Below are images of a recently completed Estonian Lace Scarf. The pattern is Lily of the Valley from “Knitted Lace of Estonia” by Nancy Bush. (Note: Not an affiliate link)

I used Paton’s Lace yarn.  It is not as crisp as others I have used in the past, it has more of a halo. An acrylic blend, so I am not sure I like it. If  it is not used for another lace shawl I can always use it for baby items. It is soft, and washable! And very inexpensive in comparison.

Estonian lace shawlFolded Estonian Lace ShawlIt is freezing outside, but inside I was more than a little pleased to discover my plant blooming. It was a gift last year for Mother’s Day from a son-in-law.  Just a few days before I had made the comment that I “…hoped it would survive until Spring”.

That’ll teach me!

flowering plant in studioBelow are a few images taken around the studio/office area. :0)

Blue Scarf In Studiopeacock Feather in StudioSheldon Cooper Painting With Frame Art Studio dollThe goal for 2014 is to have one significant shawl completed for each month. I am not sure if I want to begin on a idea that has been peculating in my noggin, or jump right into creating an Orenburg shawl next.

Eventually it will all come together for an eBook tutorial with original designs.

Talk to you all soon and have a wonderful rest of January! Stay warm! And please be sure to leave comments and/or suggestions.  I always love hearing from you!

Surface Preparation of Canvas

Canvas is available in two forms, gessoed or pre-sized and ungessoed. Pre-sized, usually with gesso (acrylic medium combined with white pigment – very opaque, flexible and non-yellowing) and coated with a layer of white acrylic paint. The second is unsized, or ungessoed, canvas ready for surface preparation. Either you choose is available in many widths and textures. Many artists buy the sized and coated canvas (pre-stretched or by the roll), but then put on additional layers to further seal the fabric weave. Unsized canvas should be primed in all painting applications except acrylic staining, in which the canvas is purposefully left open and absorbent.

There are several techniques for surface preparation when dealing with canvas. If the canvas is already pre-primed with gesso and/or acrylic pigment, additional layers of gesso might be added to create a smoother and more even base upon which to paint. If you prefer an extra smooth finish, apply gesso over the pre-stretched canvas surface, making strokes in one direction. Allow it to dry thoroughly, and then apply a second coat in the opposing direction. If you use a soft brush, smoothing out obvious brush strokes as you apply the gesso, your finished product will be fairly smooth. But, if extra smoothness is desired, sand the surface lightly with light-grit sandpaper to remove any irregularities in the surface; then clean away dust with a soft cloth. If further smoothing is necessary, sand with sandpaper that is even finer.

Extra smooth finishes can be obtained by repeating the steps above. After the third or forth coat, begin to use finer and finer sandpaper, along with water, to polish the surface to a near glass-like finish. It can take up to eight coatings and sandings to achieve the extra-smooth finish loved by many fine detail artists who consider the effort well worth their time.

Raw canvas intended for use with oils should be sized with at least four coats of gesso. For use with acrylics in all techniques but staining, sizing (gesso, etc.) is also necessary. Application of the first layer could be done with a wide putty knife. The blade will smooth the gesso over the surface and work it into the weave of the fabric. Attempt to apply the gesso smoothly with the blade, avoiding ridges and oozes. After this coat dries, sand it lightly with medium sandpaper and clean with a cloth to remove the dust. Repeat the application/sanding process for two additional layers. Clean any dust from the surface and it is ready.
Although there is added effort involved in the preparation of unsized canvas, it is available in weights heavier than pre-stretched/sized canvas. This is especially helpful when the works are large. Thicker canvas stretches tighter for a smoother, more professional presentation and will not relax over time.

A further advantage to sizing your own raw canvas or resurfacing a pre-sized canvas is that you can augment the texture on the surface. If you want to create an impasto look, you can apply gesso thickly and build a surface. With thick, visible texture, less paint yields a richly applied painterly surface. You can also press textures into a thick, wet layer of gesso for unique textures. Some tools that are used for this method of surface preparation include crushed kraft paper to yield a broken, uneven, crackle-type surface; knife blades to create ridges and lines; and sponges to create a uniform but not smooth surface. Adding material such as sand, small stones or gravel, grasses, small twigs and the like to a layer of gesso can create some wildly textured surfaces that are unique.

Consider how fortunate we are to be able to pop into any art supply center and purchase acrylic gesso. The old masters were forced to create their own canvas preparation material. The ordeal began by melting animal hide glue (an organic product that turns rancid easily) and then combining it with powdered white pigment. This concoction was cooked in a double boiler until melted and well blended and then applied to the surface while still hot. It could only be used on wood or other rigid backings, as any flexible surface like canvas would allow the brittle surface to crack or break and fall away.

Hide glue surfaces cannot endure any blows or hard treatment and must be handled carefully. Despite all of these challenges, modern painters have begun a renaissance of this surface treatment method. Technique purists and oil painters that are trying to reproduce the look of old works are especially fond of the surface–purists because it hearkens back to the period of the masters and historical painters because of the “easy to age” surface. Today, paintings can be created that have the look of centuries-old pieces.

So if you paint on canvas (or canvas boards or Masonite), there is a surfacing method that could add new dimension to your work. Perhaps you are ready to add thick textures in the surface preparation. Perhaps you want to paint on an extra smooth, slick surface where every brush mark can be blended to perfection. Or maybe you want to begin to work on a new grand scale and want to know how to surface your own canvas. With today’s materials, there is a preparation method exactly suited to your needs that makes it easier and faster than ever.

This is a wonderful item to have if you paint on location or are taking classes. You can purchase a similar item but why not just use left over canvas and pay a fraction of the cost? This makes a wonderful gift for fellow artists, and of course you can paint the surface however you choose for added flair!

1. Cut a piece of canvas 18″ long and 1″wider than you need it to be.

2. Cut two strips 12″ long and 1″ wide. (As an alternative – a strong fiber or ribbon)

3. Fold over a 1/4″ hem on all edges of the large piece, pin it into place. Fold under all raw edges.

4. Sew along hem.

5. Fold over 12″ strips so there are no raw edges showing. Sew along the seam.

6. Pin one end of each 12″ strip into position along the edge

7. Fold one end up to create the pocket area for your brushes. Be sure that the end of each 12″ strip is between layers of fabric. Sew pocket and strips into place along sides.

8. Sew the areas for beach rush pockets where need. If you have a large number of smaller width brushes, sew the seams closer together for smaller pockets, and further apart for wider.

* In order to store or carry your brush with you, simply roll it up and tie strips together.

Painting Supplies

PSU Painting StudioWhere do I begin?

So you have decided you would like to try painting. You are somewhere on the spectrum of ability, either a professional, just wanting to touch up on basics, or a beginner who has never picked up a paint brush. Perhaps you just want to discover a world that appears to be magical, that until now has managed to elude you.

For everyone’s benefit, let’s start with the bare bones of supplies. What do you need to do this wondrous event/action of painting? Although I strongly believe that no matter what your budget, creating or painting can be within your grasp. But, let’s take a look at what would ideally be at your finger tips as an artist.

Choosing Your Medium – In choosing your medium you need to consider numerous things. The amount of time you wish to have your materials ‘workable’. Do you have children or pets that may come into contact with your supplies or work area? If you will be concerned that you’re 2 year old would like to see what your painting taste like? Do you wish to buy everything you need for less than $20, $100, $500 or perhaps $1000, or even $10,000? I was once told by a professor that money should not stand in the way of creation. In this instance she was happened to be a weaver. Her thought was that if she did not have the money for supplies of a loom and such, that she would still be able to weave with sticks found in the woods. Although art materials can be seen as expensive, there are materials for every size budget. Below you will find a brief description of some available painting supplies.

  • Sketchbook – This is a wonderful to have on hand at all times. It doesn’t have to be anything more than typing or copier paper in a folder to do its job. The idea is to have a place to draw, as ideas hit you. Or a place to play without worrying about the end results, as you might in a painting.
  • Resources – It is wonderful to have on hand 3 dimensional objects that have caught your eye in one way or another. They need not be expensive items. But can be garage sale finds, or interesting items found on a country stroll. The idea is to have things available to you to use as subjects for paintings that have an interesting feature, whether it is the items color, texture, shape, etc. Basic items such as interesting cups, saucers or rocks can become a good place to get ideas flowing, or subjects taken from a completed painting.
  • Watercolor – A wonderful transparent medium that is extremely transportable. This is surely the most popular of painting materials. From the pans of watercolors found in many a school child’s desk to the many tube watercolors on the market, there are a wide variety of prices and paint qualities to choose from. It is important that you have a good quality brush. Nothing can be more frustrating than using a cheap materials and finding the brush coming apart on your painting. If you just want to get your feet wet (no pun intended :0) perhaps trying a inexpensive student grade set of watercolors with a medium grade brush would be just the ticket? And don’t forget to also pick up some watercolor paper. Make sure to pick up something sturdy that will not warp when wet. You can learn to stretch watercolor paper later on. But for now let’s just see if this is the painting materials for you to try.
  • Acrylic – Acrylics are a wonderful diverse medium. They have the ability to be used thick from the tube or thinned in a watercolor technique. You can also add water to them and create different textures, such as sand, marble dust. If you want a medium that can be diluted with water, are versatile and are relatively non toxic, acrylics are for you. They can be painted on a wide variety of surfaces and are only limited by the artist imagination. Although general thought of as a quick drying material you can add substances to the paint that lengthen its working time. Be aware that many of the additives are highly toxic. It is recommended that you use a synthetic brush with acrylic paint. When using a palette it is best to use glass and not plastic, it is very easy for acrylic paint to dry on a palette quickly and it is almost impossible to get off of a natural porous surface. Whereas with glass the paint will simply peel away when dry. But take care when cleaning in a sink that you use the necessary precautions to not cause bodily harm should the glass break.
  • Gouache – (pronounced go-waush) Is a opaque water media that dries to a matte finish. They are often used by graphic designers due to their ability to create strong pigmented areas of color that transfer well to printed media. Not as popular with the general public as other painting material.
  • Oils – Often considered a more advanced material, finished oil paintings often bring more on the market than acrylic or watercolors. Although some of the materials used with oils can be toxic, they can be handled easily with a little education on how to do so. A lure of oils is the ability for them to stay workable for a longer period than water media. They usually are dry to the touch in 2-14 days. Expense usually runs similar to using acrylics. Generally are painted onto canvas or well primed surface. It is historically recommended to use a natural bristle brush with oil paint, although there are now much suitable man made products on the market that work very well. It is often recommended you use a wooden palette with oils, which builds up a wonderful patina after many uses.
  • Water Mixable Oil – These are fairly new on the market and offer a wide variety of color. Used alone they can be cleaned with soap and water. Or you can also use the traditional oil mediums along with them. If you follow the specific manufacturer’s recommendations you can use them along with oil paints.
  • Alkyds – a transparent oil color, these work well for glazing and are dry much quicker than the standard oil paints. It has been said by many artists, that they work well for plain air painters.
  • Oil Sticks – Are relatively new to the market and is oil paint, of sorts, in stick form. Are wonderful for use as a drawing medium and making expressive marks made on painting surfaces, work well with oil paints and can be used for drawing the composition out on canvas before oil paint is applied, for added finishing touches, or as a painting material all its own. They are available in a wide variety of colors from a variety of manufacturers.
  • Soft Pastel – Often mistakenly called chalks, these are a highly popular medium, both for its ability to remain workable indefinitely and its wonderful array of color. Tragacanth gum is used as a binder with the pigment to create a stick form that can be used to either paint or draw with. Used on a textured surface pastel, they can create a wide variety of affects. They do need to be framed under glass in order to prevent damage by elements. Many pastels painting that were created over a hundred years ago are still presented to the viewer with vibrant and fresh looking results. They can be purchased in a variety of hardness including in pencil form.
  • Oil Pastel – Similar to soft pastels, but with a binder that is oil based. A variety of affects can be achieved by using them. By using a brush dipped in mineral spirits you can create washes with the colors and manipulate them. It is not recommended you use oil pastels along with oil paints on the same painting.
  • Water Soluble Pencils/ Crayons – Available in a wide variety of qualities. They are wonderful for creating the initial drawing for a watercolor or acrylic, or adding details along the way to a finished painting.
  • Encaustic – Less popular than many other methods, using hot wax as a binder with pigment.
  • Tempera – Considered somewhere between an oil and a gouache paint. They contain both aqueous and nongaseous binding materials. (temperate – medieval Latin meaning blending or mixing)

Recently I worked on updating a price comparison list that I keep on hand for personal use. It includes oil painting materials from popular art suppliers such as Dick Blick, Utrecht, Jerry Artarama, Cheap Joes among a few others. Because I find this useful when ordering, I want to share this information with you. It is available in both a .xlsx (MS Excel includes comments related to product comparisons) and PDF file.

If you are already a subscriber we will be sending this to you shortly.

If you’re not – Get on the ball and subscribe today!

Click here to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/tuUtj

 

Recently I have been working on updating a price comparison list that I keep on hand for personal use. It includes prices from popular art suppliers such as Dick Blick, Utrecht, JerryArtarama, CheapJoes among a few others. Because I find this useful when ordering, I want to share it with you. It is available in both a .xlsx (MS Excel includes comments related to product comparisons) and PDF file.

If you are already a subscriber we will be sending this to you shortly. If you’re not – get on the ball and subscribe today!

Click here to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/tuUtj

*Note: This information focuses on painting in oils

OpaqueProjector

Vintage Monster!

Is it OK to use an opaque projector as a tool for creating representational art? It is ingrained in me to say “No”. Being able to draw and see as an artist is the basis of all fine artist. One does not want to skip past this important step. When I was first serious about learning to draw having an opaque projector was not an option, financially. For this I am thankful.

I posed this question on my facebook page(s) – Artist-How-To and Diane Dobson Barton. People proposed “Professional artist use one all the time.”, “It saves time.”,  “The master’s used similar devices for centuries.” The problem as I see it arises when an artist uses a projection without the necessary skills to make it work in the end. When it is used as a crutch rather than a tool.

I have also heard people say it “saves time”.  But if you can draw well, drawing is quicker.  If you can not draw well, one must reason that you can also not see well. Seeing well is the basis of creating all representational art.

Vintage Projector

Vintage Projector

One can drive a car with cruise control and an automatic transmission just fine. But if they never learn to steer they won’t get very far. I sincerely wish I could say knowing someone uses one does not ruffle my feathers and make red flags pop up in my mind. Maybe I am just too old school?

Artist palette color choice similar to Richard Schmid's

Artist palette color choice similar to Richard Schmid’s

Ever wonder where to begin with paint color choices? Looking to those that you admire is a good place to start. For a recent painting session I chose the colors similar to those of Richard Schmid

Left-to-right: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Permanent, Cadmium Red, Trans Oxide Red, Yellow Ochre Pale, Burnt Umber, Titanium White

john-singer-sargent-lady-agnew

John Singer Sargent

Curious as to what other figure painters use/used?

Note: Intended as a guideline – Actual color will vary of course from brand to brand.

John Singer Sargent: Blanc d’Argent,Chrome Pale (A Yellow), transparent Golden Ochre, Chinese Vermillian, Venetian Red, Chrome Orange, Burnt Sienna, Garance Fronce’ (Rose Madder), Viridian, French Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black, Cobalt Blue,

Nelson Shanks: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Venetian Red, Crimson lake Deep (Old Holland), Permanent Rose (WN), Cad Red Deep, Cad Scarlet, Perinone Red (Gamblin), Perylene Red (Gamblin), Cad Orange, Raw Sienna, Indian Yellow (WN), Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow, Cad Yellow Pale, Cad Green Pale, Cad Green, Viridian (WN), Pthalo Green, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt blue, Manganess Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Ivory Black, Flake White #2

Daniel Greene: Flake White, Ivory Black, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Naples Yellow, Cad Yellow Med, Cad Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Sap Green, Thalo Green

Warren Chang: Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Cad Yellow, Cad Orange, Cad Red, Terra Rose, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Ivory Black

Kinstler: Cad Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Sienna, Cad Yellow Light, Cerulean blue, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna Sienna, Burnt Umber, Sap Green, Titanium White

William McGregor Paxton: Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Cad Yellow Light, Cad Red Light, Venetian Red, Indian Red, Alizarin Crimson, Raw Umber, Ivory Black, Titanium White

David Kassan: (Vasari Paints) Brilliant Yellow Light, Rosebud, Video Blue, Kings Blue, Cinnabar, Terre Verte, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Capucine Red Light, permanent Bright Red, Ruby Red, Scarlet Sienna, Red Umber, Burnt Umber, lamp Black, Flake White, Titanium-Zinc White

Basic Color Theory

The following information is intended as a basic understanding of color for the painter, general crafter or for the photographer.

Basic Color Wheel

Primary Colors – Red, Yellow and Blue are the basics of  color mixing. They can not be made on their own, but in theory you can make all the other colors on the color wheel

Secondary Colors – Violet, Green, and Orange are the colors that are created secondly by mixing the primary colors together.

Examples of  – Subtractive Color Theory  / Additive Color Theory

Subtractive Color – if you add its three primaries (Red, Green, Blue), the end result is white.

Additive Color – when the primaries cyan, magenta and yellow are mixed the end result is black. This is the color theory we are using here.

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Color Schemes


ComplementaryColors are opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance the compliment of Blue is Orange, the compliment of Red is Green etc.

Split Complementary is made by using a color and the two colors next to its compliment. Such as by using Red, and then using Yellow and Blue.

Triadic Color Schemes are made by any three colors that appear an equal distant from each other on the color wheel, such as Red, Yellow, and Blue.

Analogous Color Scheme is made by colors next to each other on the color wheel.

Monochromatic Color Scheme is made from one color or hue with multiple values and intensities.


Warm colors are colors that represent a feeling of warmth or heat such as Red, Orange, and Yellow.

Cool Colors are colors that represent a feeling of coolness and chill, such as blue, blue green and violet.

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Value Scale the amount of light and dark that is shown. The less value the lighter it is.

Contrast is the difference in values. The strongest contrast can be seen by placing the two extremes next to each other. When two lesser extremes are next to each other they are said to have low contrast. The closer they are in value, the lower they are in contrast.

Tints are created by adding White to a value. In the case of hand-coloring a print the white would generally be added by using the paper and having a transparent color wash.


Tones are created by adding Black to a value. In the case of hand-coloring the artist will either add a bit of black to the color or use the existing shades of grey already in the image.

box

Pochade Box

A pochade box is a portable small painting box you can take with you when painting plein air. The one I made has a small palette that fits inside, holes to insert paint brushes while working, and room for storage of supplies.

If I were to buy a pochade box new it would cost at least $150. There are a number of blogs that show how to make one of your own with cigar boxes and I have a friend that smokes cigars and is generous with giving them away. You can also find them online or from smoke shops for $5-10.  I gathered my supplies over the course of a few months, here and there. In the end it probably cost me about $30 in supplies. As I said the cigar boxes were free and I already had the tripod. You could also look online at as http://www.freecycle.org/ in your area.

box1

Some of the supplies used

box7

More supplies!

Supplies used:

  • Three cigar boxes.  I had two the same and one oddball but similar in size to the other two.
  • Small Hinges
  • Small bungee cords
  • Eye-and-Hook closure
  • Odd scraps of cedar wood found inside of cigar boxes – for palette shelves inside of box and for inserting t-nut into. I fyour box does not come with extra pieces of wood, you can always repurpose rullers etc…
  • 4-Bull clips – 1″ wide
  • Skill Saw
  • Dremel Tool – with small drill bit, and sander attachments
  • Pliers
  • Drill – with a variety of size drill bits to for brushes
  • Linseed Oil
  • Rag/Paper Towel
  • Sandpaper
  • T-Nut – either 1/4X20 or 1/4″X20X5/16″
  • Wood Glue
  • Mending Strips – for hinge on side of box
  • Small Screw – to join mending strips
  • Wing-Nut – to fit small screw
  • Small flat screw driver – from set used for computer/sewing machine repair
  • Standard camera tripod with extend-able legs
  • Hammer

The first thing you will want to do is to replace the hinges and closure on the box you use.  The ones put on cigar boxes are almost always weak and break easily.

box2

Palette made from bottom of the odd-ball third cigar box

Take apart the third odd ball sized cigar box and with skill saw, cut a square palette that will fit into the bottom of the other boxes.

Draw out the placement for the thumb hole. Use a Dremel Tool attachment or drill to make a hole  in the center of the marked area. Using the Dremel Tool or Skill Saw cut out the shape desired. Note: Of everything, this step probably took me the longest.

Once you have the size correct of palette and thumb hole sand the edges down smooth with either sandpaper or with the Dremel Tool.

box3

T-nut inserted into wood with the tripod attachment

Inside of all the cigar boxes were thin strips of wood that could be pulled out.  I took three strips and layered them together with wood glue, clamped them with the bull clips until dry. It should be plenty dry in a couple of hours.

This create a piece of wood approx 1/2″ thick. I then used the skill saw to cut an approximately 2×3″ shape.

Drill a hole in the center of the wood with a 1/4″ drill bit.

Insert the t-nut into the hole and tap it down with the hammer until the larger flat side is flush with the wood.

box4

T-nut attached to the bottom

Attach the piece of wood with the T-nut slightly more to toward the top of the box as shown. Due to the wight of the lid and a small canvas it will help to balance it when on the tripod.

box5

Minding Strips Attached

I put the mending strips on one side only. But you can put them on both if you want. I may wind up later doing that myself. Attach them as shown.

When the box is open, remove the wing-nut, use it and the small screw to connect the two strips.  This will give you the ability to choose the angle of your lid, or easel.

box10

Palette seasoned with linseed oil and mending strips in use

I used several layers of thin linseed oil on the palette to seal and season it before using. I think it gave it a nice aged looked :0) To do so you simply rub in a thin layer of oil and allow it to dry, and repeat a few times.

This also shows the mending strips in use.

box6

Palette shelf

Figure out how tall to make your scraps of square wood to enable the palette to rest inside of the box and not sit taller than the edge.  Glue each in a corner with wood glue.

box8

Brush rest

Carefully take off the hinges off the other box that is the same size as the one you are using.  On one of the half drill holes to insert the handles of your brushes, while painting. You probably will not be taking too many brushes with you so if you have a variety of sizes of 5-7 holes that will be more than enough. Test them out with the brushes you know you want to use and make necessary adjustments.

box12

Inside of the lid

You need to do something that will keep the lid from smacking up against the inside of the lid. Especially when the palette is covered in wet paint, and you don’t want to have to clean it off each time out in the field.  To help with this I put four thick buttons, one on each corner area to act as spacers.  I plan on also using a piece of wax paper, to keep the lid and palette from sticking together during travel.

box9

Bungee cords

Three layers, one with holes for brushes, the box you just created, and the other side of a box.  Wrap all three with the small bungee cords to keep secure. Inside of the two outer boxes you can store your paints, brushes, rags, 4 bull clips etc…

Consider cutting down the handles of a paint brushes that do not already fit.

box13

Designated Plein Air Kit

I chose to have a designated plein air kit:

  • The box materials I just created
  • A small jar to carry mineral spirits
  • Pencil
  • Small jar of linseed oil (and/or any other medium I choose to use)
  • Rags
  • Canvas
  • Plastic bag (to place dirty rags into)
box

Completed Plein Air Box

When out in the field attach the box to your tripod, take the two extra halves and attach them with the bull clips and use your lid as an easel.

NOTE: I have seen ones with special attachments for the easel portion.  And I may try something similar in the future. Right now I plan on working fairly small and as portable as possible so this should work for now.

If you decide to build your own or have already and want to share, let us know! Either post links below or email us at art@dianedobsonbarton.com

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