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“Wha?!” 8X10″ Oil on canvas – NFS

The above piece is a quick study I did the other day. Created from a photo that captured my attention.

My fourth of July will consist of the traditional food, fireworks, family and friends. This year it will be on a smaller scale since it falls on a Thursday.

I haven’t taken the week off.  But I guess I am giving myself a lot of leeway. As of the last two days I focused on painting and napping. Not necessarily in that order.  My husband is on vacation from his job this week.  So it is hear-by decided I can blame him for my lack of initiative!

In an attempt to get to know the readers better, let me fill you in a bit about myself.

  1. I turn fifty this year. I am actually looking forward to it. Life should be fun. As Huey Lewis said: “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time!”
  2. I have two grown daughters and four and a half grandchildren. The half being a new grandson due in Sept.
  3. I am not domestic.  So the chances of seeing any recipe posted by me is slim to none.
  4. I read a great deal, mostly nonfiction. I am a sucker for anything new on business, blogging, writing, or autism.
  5. I am on a continual quest for the perfect office/studio organizing system.  See eBook “Controlling Creative Clutter”.
  6. My office is in a small home I share with my husband, two dogs and a cat. I dream of having a rustic historic building found in most all of rural America.
  7. I am VERY introverted.  I need time alone in order to function well. So the item #6 is not practical in that it would most likely require me to be available to the public.
  8. I don’t eat as well as I should, nor do I often exercise on purpose. I tell myself I will get back to running. But sitting in front of the computer, easel or with a book almost always wins out.

So there you have it: A fifty year old out of shape hermit that paints, writes and blogs. And I am sure some would say a twisted sense of humor. It will surly rear its head before long!

 

Blogging Organization Notebook

Blogging Organization Notebook

In an ongoing effort to be organized and prepared, I have created a Blogging Notebook for myself. In case you are curious, and why wouldn’t you be curious? (Insert sarcastic expression here)

It includes the following:

  • 3 Pocket insert – 1. For goals (traffic and content, among other things) 2. Scrap paper/small notebook (thin moleskin type)/pen and highlighter. 3. Random notes in topic section
  • Monthly Calendar – Broad view of editorial plans.
  • Weekly Calendar – Break down of the week ahead.
  • To-Do Lists – Ongoing without any set time frame.
  • Topics – Outlines for series and notes for upcoming posts.
  • Blog Topic Forms – Helps me see I am meeting goals with each post.
  • Contests – Possible giveaways
  • Advertisements – Information on who, when, where and necessary steps.
  • SEO Information – Record of where I am and ideas on how to improve and get where I want.
  • Product Reviews – Ideas on upcoming reviews – once blog is better prepared.

For some people this may be overkill.  For me it is a place to start and see how it goes. :0) With it all in one place I can easily grab it as I am headed out the door.

“The Craft of Planning Your Art Business: Clear Worksheets and Directions on Creating The Working Artist Business Plan”

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There are other business plans programs out there, but this is guaranteed to be the one you refer to again and again as a working artist.

According to the “experts” most small business plans only need to be about 6-10 pages long. The problem is knowing what you need to include, and making yourself think it through well enough to get it down on paper.

Workbook = 70 pages – You can complete worksheets at your own pace, to have a clear image of the business you want, and the steps you need to take to get where you want to go!

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7     Taking Stock – Section One

  • Current Personal Inventory
  • Ideal Business Life

15   Creating the Business Plan – Section Two

  • Why Have a Business Plan?
  • Create Your Business Plan

56   Business Planning Tips and More Information – Section Three

  • Determine Your Price
  • Additional Business Tips

62   Useful Worksheets – Section Four

  • Competition
  • Determine Marketing Options
  • Your Art Inventory
  • Price Chart
  • Cataloging

71   Resources

  • Online Resources
  • Glossary
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“Sunshine” 9X12″ Oil on Canvas – NFS

So this past week I have been focusing on creating a better schedule for blog posts, gathering and organizing my blog information, and of course painting. This includes taking an online course on blogging at Blogelina.  I signed up on a lark and didn’t have high expectations, but have been pleasantly impressed.  I am someone that has read all of the ProBlogger books and thought I knew what I was doing. The online course has been a eye opener.

I am still creating paintings for a show at the Bowlus in October, while also working on a book proposal.  I also came to the conclusion I was trying to juggle too many things at once. So the frame of mind here of late has been to simplify. No more following that distraction of seeing something shiny!

Some of you know I am a knitter. But, knitting has taken a back seat. For now.

How do you stay on task? Are you a list maker and scheduler? Or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?

“Good landscape painting translates into good figure painting.” – John Singer Sargent

This past weekend I ventured out of my yard to paint plein air and went straight for probably the second toughest corner in our little town.  The first being where our one stop light is. “Tough” because I prefer to paint alone in a quiet studio. But, everyone that stopped to see what was going on was gracious, positive and curious. It was also part of a local plein air event so I had a built in support system.

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Starting to lay in the color

Suggested Supplies:

  • Pochade Box – Purchase one or find directions on making your own here
  • Bag – To carry it all
  • Palette – I made one to fit inside my pochade box. But you might prefer disposable for convenience.
  • Paints – I prefer oils and I tend to use Utrecht brand more than others. I carry the following: ultramarine blue, thalo blue, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, titanium white, burnt umber, burnt sienna and sap green.
  • Pencil/pen and paper – to draw out thumbnail before beginning on canvas.
  • Brushes – I prefer round and flat sable or synthetic sable.  I find traditional bristle brushes to stiff. I carry 3-4 brushes.  Sizes are not uniform across brands and I use a variety depending on the best prices.
  • Mineral spirits – I carry mine with three jars.  One to carry full of the mineral spirits another to pour it into, and the third to pour the dirty/used liquid. This way I can have it clean as needed.
  • Linseed Oil – I paint with oil to this is a must have.  I carry a small jar.
  • Canvas/panel – I prefer painting on stretch canvas to panels.  Either 8X10″, 9X12 or 11X14″
  • Umbrella can be handy but I prefer to seek our areas in the shade.  Making another item to carry eliminated.
  • Hat – The few times this year I have painted outside I was SOOO glad I had worn a hat and prevented sun damage.
  • Apron – Mine is one my oldest daughter made in high school.  It is covered in paint an worn but it is my go-to.
  • Camera – To take a shot of what you are working on in case you need to finish it later in the studio.  It can also help give you a fresh view of what you are putting on the canvas.
  • Sunscreen – I live in Kansas and I am so pale I burst into flames when I step outside. So, sunscreen is a must.  I look for 30 spf and higher.
  • Misc – Paper towels or rags, wet wipes, MP3 player with headphones and of course snackage and drink
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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.

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Some of the supplies used

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)
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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

The final installment of our “Painting In Oils” series.

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“Cameron” 12X16″ Oil on Canvas

There are probably as many ways to approach painting as artists. In this post I attempt to show how I paint portraits.

First, you need to gather your supplies:

  • Mineral Spirits
  • Rags (Or Paper Towels)
  • 12X16″ Stretched Canvas
  • Linseed Oil
  • Oil Paints (Utrecht)- Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cadium Red. Naples Yellow and Dioxazine Purple
  • Paint Brushes (Utrecht) – Round #00, #2, #3, Filbert #4
  • Small Mirror
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Step One Example

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Step One – Detail

Step One:

  • Use mineral spirits with burnt umber oil paint to create a wash and lay in the basic shapes.
  • Use only the larger brush during this step.
  • Do not use any linseed oil or other medium at this point.
  • Push and pull the values to work out the composition, working from big to small shapes.
  • Use the small mirror to check your work. The mirror helps you to see problems in proportion etc…
  • You are not committed at this point.  If it not working just wipe off the thin paint and start over.
  • Only concern yourself with getting the basic shapes and forms at this point.
  • Make sure you keep with the traditional placement of the features in mind as you work.
  • Remember the more white you add the slower it will dry so use it sparingly.
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Step Two Example

Take a brief break and step away before beginning step two. So you have a fresher perspective.

Step Two:

  • If the paint is dry to the touch, oiling out will help with the paints flow and correct use of color.
  • Correct anything that may not look correct from Step One.
  • Begin to lay in the basic colors of the flesh and develop the values further.
  • Keep the strokes loose and fresh as you can. Be sure of each stroke before you make it.
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Step Two – Detail

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Paint Mix Detail

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Step Three Example

Step Three:

  • Deepen and enrich the colors of the flesh further. Work with smaller brushes only if necessary, but keep the freshness of the strokes. Do not become too tight.
  • Develop the clothing further and at least lay in the basic colors.
  • Darken the background and play with the push and pull of edges of the figure.
  • Notice the flesh here has blue in the shadows.
  • Continue checking your work with a small mirror to be sure you are making the progress you think you are.
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Step Four Example – With inspirational paintings attached to easel.

Step Four:

  • Build up the shirt area with equal looseness you have in the flesh tones.
  • Touch up detailed areas of the features, still trying to not be too tight.
  • Reinforce the texture on highlighted areas of flesh.
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Step Five Example

Step Five:

  • Be sure to include highlights on iris and pupil.
  • Fill in the rest of the dark background.
  • Develop edges of figure with the background so they are cohesive and not seen as being in two totally different spaces.
  • Sign into the wet paint at this point. Or, try to wait to sign the work until the paint is dry.  This way if you make an error it can easily be wiped off without disturbing what painting has been accomplished.
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Step Five – Detail

At this point I could continue building the piece with more and more detail. Instead I have chosen to stop here and leave it with the loose brushstrokes.

Tips:

  • Be sure to take regular breaks.  I tend to do so every hour. It just happens that Pandora internet stations play approx ninety minutes before pausing.
  • Clean your brushes well at the end of each painting session.
  • To keep oil paint wet from one work session to another consider placing it in the freezer in a closed container.

Part Six – Oiling Out

Part Five – Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Part Four – Facial Proportions

Part Three – Palettes

Part Two –  Mediums

Part One – Materials

OK, what is a MOOC? “Massive Open Online Courses”, or free classes you can take online. That’s right, free.

Long ago Amazon.com offered courses you took for free. They had a text book of sorts that you purchase from them, or not. Then by way of a message board you did assignments, and had discussions with other students. It all has since gone way of Web 1.0. But, apparently the concept never really went away.

So I have been looking for a grammar/writing class. I could never find a fit. So last week I am reading a Money magazine article (May 2013) “College is Free”.

Long-story-short I am now signed up for “Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade”. It is being given by Mt. San Jacinto College, and yes it is free.

There are Art courses, Computer Science, Literature etc… Taught by professors at MIT, Berkley, and Harvard among others.  You can pay to get college credit for some, others you can only audit without charge. Some are self directed with no time limits, others are set up as a traditional online course with deadlines and discussions. Many that sign up do not finish.  I have read as high as 90%.

A few that may be interest readers:

At Coursera.org you can take a class at Penn State “Introduction to Art”

Saylor.org offers “Art History” coursework with a major

Udacity.com you can learn how to build a blog through “Web Development”

And at edx.org you can investigate the “Ideas of the 20th Century”

So if you sign up for one of these courses, please leave us a comment and let us know what you are taking and/or what you thought of courses you took in the past. Curious minds want to know!