Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Storing tubes of paint

A while back I stumbled across this rather brilliant way of storing tubes of paint. http://njainschigg.blogspot.com/2011/12/paint-storage.html

I've always stored my paints in buckets, tackle boxes, cardboard boxes, etc. It always results in the tubes getting really beat up, covered in other paint, covered in oil, and just an overall mess. Not a great system.

But this system Nicholas came up with seemed like it was just the solution for me, so I built one. I still need to put some screws in the wall and hang it up, but for now it's doing great. I used "cup hooks" rather than nails/screws.

I've still got a ton of other tubes of paint. I'll have to make a couple more of these...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Newest landscape finished

"Monumental" is the title I came up with. I've never been good at picking titles. Oh well. I hope the painting speaks for it self.

Anyway, I think it's done. I also decided to start watermarking my images. Maybe that will increase traffic to my website.

I thought the painting was too vibrant and green (It was that Cad Yellow Medium that did it, I think), so I did some red/orange glazes all over the painting. When that was a little tacky I went in with thicker paint. I added more variety of greens and a bit more detail in the foreground. I didn't want to add too much because I want to keep the focus on the main cluster of rocks.

I dulled down the highlights on the rocks with a mix of Naples, Flake White, and a touch of Red Ochre. The Cadmiums still peek through here and there. I think it makes a more convincing sense of a sunset without being too overpowering.

I drove to Sedona earlier this week and took loads of photos. It was too cold to do any painting outdoors. I think I'll paint some of that stuff next.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Progress is coming along on this one. The colors are a little too vibrant for me right now so I will have to dull those down with glazes as soon as this layer is dry.

This session started out with glazing some darker, complimentary colors all over. I was just using thinner and a little bit of stand oil as my medium. The idea was to make the surface slightly tacky before I started putting thicker paint on.

My palette was the same as last time except with the addition of (Old Holland) Flake White and Cadmium Yellow Medium.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Next up on the chopping block

Last night I got a new painting sketched out. This is from the series of photos I took out by Superstition Mtn and Canyon Lake. This is a new kind of composition for me. There isn't any sky visible here. I'm trying to study more on using light and shadow as part of my composition.

I toned the canvas with some scrap paint a couple days ago, then made a rough line drawing with charcoal. I used some thinner and Burnt Umber to finish the drawing. Then, last night I went in with a wider range on my palette, keeping colors thinned and gradually building up layers.

My palette here is(Old Holland unless noted)
-Warm Grey (Senellier)
-Naples yellow deep
-Yellow Ochre (Rembrandt)
-Cad Yellow Deep
-Cad Red
-Venetian Red (Gamblin)
-Alizarin Crimson (Williamsburg)
-Green Earth

I'm avoiding using white in order to avoid that "chalky" look that white can sometimes give. Using Naples Yellow as my lightest color has made the light very warm.

So now I have to wait for this to dry before I can glaze and build up more layers. I think I'm going to start sketching some new paintings until then.

And here's what I'm listening to. Get in the painting mood with some crazy hair and more glam than you can shake a stick at.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stretching Canvas

I stretch my own canvases for a couple reasons. It's cheaper, which is great. But generally it is higher quality than the pre-stretched canvases too. I also hate how some store-bought canvases put staples on the side of the canvas. It looks terrible. I can also put as much, or as little, gesso as I want. Anyway, I can be a little obsessive about how my canvases are stretched. I figured I would share my process.

-Staple Gun (mine is an Arrow brand, model JT-21M, and JT-21 8mm staples)
-Cotton duct canvas (Fabric stores sell it pretty cheap, tent/awning manufacturers will sometimes give away scraps. If you are looking for a real bargain pick up some canvas "painter's drop cloth". Home Depot sells 12 foot wide ones for about $15. It's not good quality, but it works great for studies and stuff once it is primed. Art stores have the best kind but they will charge you a lot more for it).
-Stretcher bars (I like to get the thicker bars. If the bars are too thin, sometimes the canvas can warp once it is stretched. Thicker bars don't have that problem, and as a bonus you can get away without framing your painting by painting the edges)

Some people like to use some kind of canvas-stretching pliers. I find that I can stretch it tight enough with just my fingers. Any creases left in the canvas will go away once you paint the gesso on (gesso shrinks when it dries). The canvas will be as tight as a drum if you do it right, so I don't really see the need for any extra tools.

Here is a set of stretcher bars. I believe it is Utrecht brand. I decided I wanted to re-stretch the canvas so I removed the old painting and the staples. The stretcher bars are upside down on a piece of canvas, and the canvas was cut so that there is about 3 inches extra all the way around. Try to center the bars as evenly as possible.
 Beginning in the middle of one of the sides, I pull the canvas up and staple it down to the back of the bar. I like to fold the edge under itself, because it hides the frayed edges and it looks a lot cleaner.
 Staple the center part of the opposite side next. Then the 2 remaining sides.
 Now, pulling tight and folding the canvas edge over as I go, I put one staple on either side of the middle one. Then I work from the center of the edge opposite of that. I'll work my way around the canvas putting in two staples at a time on each edge. This helps keep the stretching even, rather than putting a ton of staples in one side before starting the others.
I keep my staples about 1 inch apart. Though it wouldn't hurt to put more in.
 Finally we work our way over to the corners. I stop stapling about 3 inches away from each corner, in order to give me enough slack to fold it over.
 Don't fold it this way. Some people fold their corners this way and it looks really tacky. If you put a little bit more effort into how you fold your corners it will make a huge difference. Especially if you aren't framing your paintings.
 This way of folding takes some time to perfect but it is really worth it. Try to keep everything very tight. Pull the edge down and to the left (1).
 Then pull it upwards (2). Try to keep the other edge (on this image's right side) pulled in tight. Sometimes it can get a little loose when doing the second step. Finally fold it down flat onto the back of the stretchers (3). Then staple it down.
 The finished corner. Doesn't it look nice?

Then I prime them with 3-4 coats of gesso followed by a light rub of sandpaper. Make sure to gesso the edges too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Drive to Canyon Lake

Last week I drove out to Canyon Lake. Its a winding, mountainous road with lots of hills and potholes as you get closer to the lake. Not very fun to drive and you can't really look at all the great scenery while driving (you don't want to take your eyes off the road for even a second). I stopped at nearly all of the pull-off areas I saw just so I could take lots of pictures. The sun was getting low in the sky, creating lots of good shadows.

I started working on a new painting, referencing some of the photos I took.

I painted a quick 5x7 inch study first, to test the composition, values and colors. I'm trying some new things with my composition and lighting in this painting. One of the things I have sort of neglected in my landscape paintings is using shadow as part of my composition. I had a discussion with a gallery owner in Scottsdale and he gave me a lot of good pointers. Peter, if you are reading this, thanks. That was the kick up the rear I needed!

So here I have the foreground entirely in shadow, and a good portion of the background hills/rocks are in shadow as well.

Next I took a 10x14 inch canvas (I stretch them myself) which had been toned with a mix Burnt Sienna and Cadmium Red. After sketching out the basic composition with thinner, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue, I began applying some thicker paint.

My palette here is (Old Holland oils) Flake White #1, Naples Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Red Medium, Burnt Sienna, Green Earth, Ultramarine Blue. I also used a little bit of Malachite from Daniel Smith. It's a really nice color, sort of like a cool kind of emerald. I figured it would be a nice color for the brittlebushes in the shadowed foreground.

Yesterday I quickly sketched in the foreground. I'm pretty happy so far with the overall colors and values, so over the next few days I will refine shapes and add more detail.

Today I worked some more on the foreground and some minor adjustments everywhere else. I think I'm going to start another painting now and come back to this one next week, with a fresh eye. Maybe I'll do a little bit of glazing.

I almost forgot to post another song too. Some folks like to get away... I think I could use a vacation.