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Another change of horses September 7, 2021 20:14

Once again I thought I'd found just what I wanted to do in terms of my art, and I decided it totally isn't. 

I thought I had settled on painting opaque watercolor with aquapasto and aiming for texture and painting on watercolor ground on canvas and finishing my paintings with cold wax so they could be displayed without glass. And then I got to thinking.

Why was I letting someone's desire for less expensive framing determine how I paint? People who buy my paintings know that if they want cheap art, there are all sorts of places to find it. And if they want something that is more expensive, they can afford to get it framed, no?

I got to thinking about that, especially after reading a quote from a guy who was forming a new gallery with three other gallerists. He said that the days of 50/50 split with the artist were over. And it was clear that he did not mean he was going to ensure that his artists got more than 50%. On the contrary. The greed of the precious little parasite.

Galleries are a deforming force on art. I have thought this for a long time. I have looked at a lot of gallery art and have felt that way too much of it was only called "art" because money-laundering was involved.  Money-laundering art is pretty much crap. But it's not important what it looks like. It's important how much drug money it can launder.

Now sure. All galleries are not involved in this by any means. But there is also the issue of galleries not paying artists for what is sold and even not returning their work. This is the case with 30% of galleries, from what I've read in different sources over the years.

And then they have the balls to whine about how they're not making any money. They have the balls to demand that artists do the vast majority of the marketing, yet they won't share their collectors list with artists. They have the balls to switch frames on people's paintings, to store paintings without care, to not carry any insurance, to hire people who couldn't sell their grandma some chicken soup.

But to me the most deforming aspect is that they want the artist to create a brand--"consistency." Because in our industrial-product, chain-store, franchise-restaurant world, standardization is vital for sales. The art an artist produces has to be identifiable as their brand. If they paint Realist Rocky Mountain landscapes, they better keep on doing it. If they paint misty pictures of a vase of pink flowers. they can't decide to turn out some nightscapes or portraits with shredded faces. Stay in your lane!!!

I often have looked at my own art and known it is not consistent in terms of style or subject, which for a long time made me think I was a lousy artist. I've regularly weeded out my work on this website to impose some sort of consistency on my art, even though I know I deviate from consistency time and again. 

Thing is, this site doesn't get a lot of traffic. Not as much as I'd like, anyhow. And I thought it would help to widen my connection to collectors if my work was picked up by a gallery, even though I was well aware of all the many, many pitfalls. 

But reading that quote by that precious bitch of a gallerist who informs the world that the days of the 50/50 split with the artist are over because galleries have bills to pay made me absolutely despise the whole system far more than I ever did before. I wonder what the average gallerist makes compared to the average artist.

So, slowly I am going to populate my site with my paintings that don't contribute to my "brand." That are inconsistent. It's going to take me a while, because I have a lot of them.

Now to circle around back to my shift in painting technique and how it relates to galleries. I am not the first painter who tried to make their watercolors more of a brand, more marketable in a gallery. Even leaving aside 19th-century British watercolorists who did their best to make their paintings resemble oils so they could raise their prices, I know watercolorists today who attach their watercolors to stretched canvas with a gallery wrap and add a cold wax finish because galleries don't want to sell watercolors, especially displayed behind glass. These folks sell their paintings through galleries by doing this. I have nothing against them doing this. 

Obviously, because basically that's what I was building up to do by painting with aquapasto on watercolor ground on canvas and finishing it with cold wax. All about the marketing through galleries that don't know how to sell watercolors.

The only problem with that is that it changes what I can do with the paint. Watercolor ground is neat, but it's not paper. It has taught me that lifting can be a tool instead of a bug, which is fab, but it still allows for way too much inadvertent lifting. And you cannot really do a wash with it or the usual sort of watercolor glaze. And the paint just kind of sits there; it's difficult to get it to move. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of watercolor, so why use watercolor at all? Just use oils. Feh.

In contrast, the traditional tools of watercolor are right there when painting on paper. 

So if I think that I won't be selling through galleries in the future no matter how good of a painter I become. I would rather paint on paper. If I really get a hankering to paint on canvas, I can do it with my oil paints.

So here we are--back to my oldest painting practice: using transparent pigments to paint on paper with no mediums or cold wax finish. They will have to be framed behind glass (or that snazzy "museum"  glass/acrylic, which is so cool and so expensive).

Oddly enough, this has meant a return also to a pigment that was my favorite when I began art school in 1971--phthalocyanine blue red shade. I just loved that stuff, which can go from an intense indigo to a delicate peacock wash. But I dumped it decades later because it felt too synthetic. I got sucked into the Daniel Smith granulated rocks with fancy names. And they are beautiful. I still have a bunch.

But when I got my royalty check for The Witching Herbs back in August, I bought a ton of Winsor Newton transparent watercolors, which is what I began serious painting with way back when I started art school and got my first set of tube paints. Part of my switching to WN was nostalgia, but another was wanting to explore all those luscious colors I never got a chance to learn how to use years ago. I forgot how beautiful they are, how luminous, and their sense of stillness. They invite to dip into them, like a pool.

I need this stillness just as much now as I did back then, when I began serious painting. It's a very unstill world.


19th-Century Watercolor Style Really Works September 2, 2021 12:37

Years ago I read how some of the 19th-century British watercolorists did various things to make their paintings look more like oil so they could charge more for them. After all, why should oil painters get all the money? :) I read about their use of aquapasto and tried it a few years ago but didn't get oil-painting results. 

Then I tried it again recently and started getting ideas. I did an experimental painting where I saw how I could get a buildup of texture in a painting thanks to aquapasto, so I set out to use it in earnest.

In this painting, I always mixed the tube paint 50/50 with aquapasto and used only a tiny bit of water. It makes for sticky stuff, but it is still easier for me to paint with than a sticky oil paint. Feels lighter somehow too. I didn't have too many issues with unwanted lifting with layers of paint, only when the brush was too wet.

The stickiness means I will need some stiffer brushes than I have, which are mostly Dynasty Black Gold, made of nylon. The way I've been scrubbing, they will get ruined. For oil paints, I like synthetic hog bristle, so I ordered some Mimik Hog brushes, which are synthetic.

I really like how I can do oil type painting but not have to deal with how long it takes oil paint to dry. Because of slow drying, I had even begun to use a lead/manganese drier and bought some lead white because I couldn't deal with it anymore. My oil paints take 3-5 days to dry, and with the drier, 1-2 days, but this stuff takes more like 3-5 minutes, faster if I use the blow drier. So nice! And no smell of oxidizing oil or cleanup with solvent. 

For me, tube watercolor with aquapasto is also easier to use than gouache or casein. Both of them have issues with unwanted lifting that are way worse than this. 

I've been using cold wax to finish my watercolor paintings, and it works just as well with this. It removes a very tiny amount of paint, I'm thinking from the highest areas of texture. It's not visible on the painting, but the towel showed a small amount of pigment. 

Someone mentioned in a comment elsewhere that they were using shoe polish brushes to apply the cold wax. I think that would be good if I weren't using the aquapasto. I am going to stick with the flour sack towel pieces I use.

 


Aquapasto II August 27, 2021 20:19

Back in early 2018, I wrote a blog post about aquapasto. It's been my most popular blog post. People still come to read it. 

I hadn't done much with aquapasto  until recently, when I began experimenting with it again.

I first tried adding some to some paint to see if I could get lines to stand up. That didn't work.

I thought maybe I didn't add enough. Thing is that I noticed the more I added, the less brilliance the paint had--because, of course, there was less pigment per inch. It was spread out. What to do? Layers.

So I thought maybe it might be usable as some kind of transparent glaze, and I added much more aquapasto to each glob of paint, so that they were 50/50. I mixed them up with a very small palette knife I use with my watercolors, usually just to mix some tube paint with a bit of water and end up with something creamy. After mixing the paint and aquapasto, I added one spray of water so it wasn't so sticky.

This time I ended up with something much thicker than cream. More like limp toothpaste. This consistency allowed me to build some actual texture with the paint. Have a look. This is tube paint + aquapasto painted over DS watercolor ground on a gessoed canvas.
 

For most of this painting, I used a type of brush I discovered through oil painting. It's usually used for painting grasses in landscapes and is called a grainer. It doesn't work that well for painting grass, but it's really interesting for building up texture. They are pretty cheap, but you could just as easily use an old flat brush in bad condition that's gotten splayed. 

I've experimented on and off with using watercolor paint almost straight from the tube to do drybrush work. This is the kind of painting that leaves a thick (for watercolor) layer of paint on the support, rather than the kind of scratchy drybrush you often see used for depicting Western or desert scenes--at least, that's what I associate that type of drybrush with. The kind of drybrush that leaves a thick, brilliant layer that never has the chance to sink into the paper and thus dilute its brilliance by coloring paper fibers below the surface is very rarely done, from my experience. One thing that seems to prevent watercolorists is the expense of the paint. But you really don't need to use that much, in my experience.

Drybrush does allow for glazing if you really careful to have very little water on the brush, use brights instead of rounds (which tend to dig up the lower layer of any kind of paint), and hold the brush at an angle quite close to the surface of the support, so you are basically skimming along. Adding aquapasto to the mix means not only can you do a drybrush glaze more easily, but you can build multiple layers and you can create texture that is unobtainable any other way.

You can see how thick the buildup of paint and aquapasto is here--thick enough to fill the dips in the canvas weave. This has about 7 layers of paint/aquapasto to it. It will seem even more filled when I finish the painting with cold wax, which I have been doing for the past couple of years. This will make it very water-resistant (I have tested it with a kitchen sink sprayer--beads right up). The painting can then be hung not only without glass but without a frame. If you do use cold wax, you might have to call it mixed media if you enter shows. But if you don't use cold wax and only the aquapasto, you are still allowed to call it watercolor, no matter how much texture you achieve with it, because aquapasto is a gel made from water, gum arabic, and some fumed (safe) silica and has been used by watercolorists for more than a century.

When I first tried aquapasto back in 2018 and posted about my experiences on a now mostly defunct art forum, I thught other painters would be glad to hear how you could add texture to watercolor. Not so much. And worse, another poster scolded me for not sticking to "real" watercolor. Why didn't I just use acrylics or something, they asked with a sniff, the implication being that then the "real" watercolorists wouldn't have to deal with misfits such as myself. 

Thing is I wanted to paint with watercolor, but I wanted to push the envelope, to see how much it could actually do. And what's more, aquapasto was invented by 19th-century British watercolorists, and you don't get much more "real" watercolorists than them. 

So give it a try. Play with it and see what it can do for you. We need more misfits in the art world.  


Fresh Horses July 29, 2021 12:59

I've been mulling my next steps in painting because of the issue with fumes from gouache burning my eyes. I started another painting with just plain watercolor, but I disliked it a great deal (<--). I could not get it to look even close to what I had imagined. I guess I would have to use oil paints to do that. I just kept looking at it and hating it, even though folks on Instagram were very supportive about it. Maybe it just looks better online than it does in person.

One problem was that I have never been able to draw a straight line. So I've got that issue throughout the painting. I decided to use painter's tape to remedy that, and it helped, but it was still an issue (I will say that Frog tape is much better than masking tape for that purpose). I bought some tools like a metal ruler (couldn't find my old metal ruler) and a ruling pen to do that, but I just didn't want to work on it anymore. They are just sitting in front of the easel.

So this morning I took the painting off the gatorbord and put the line-drawing tools away. And frankly, I was relieved. I am not cut out to be precise.

I haven't been happy with my art lately. Nothing I've been doing has been good, in my opinion, and it certainly hasn't seemed like me. I have felt very cut off from it.

Some time ago, I gave myself 10 years to become a successful painter. "Successful" for me meant that my art income would be sufficient for me to scrape by when combined with my Social Security benefits. I have not even come close with that. For the past couple of years I've made only about enough during the entire year to support myself for one single month. And that's the gross, not the net. Sheesh.

I chose ten years on account of hearing Renato Muccillo talk about how it took him that long to become a successful painter. He inspired me, even though I paint nothing like him. I like how he paints landscapes with detail but without becoming photographic. His painting is always painterly. I also like how he often uses cheap brushes. :) And I admire how productive he is. I feel like being productive is one key to becoming successful and hopefully, a good painter.

The thing is that one problem I've always had with art is that I want to do too much. I'm greedy. I want to learn how to paint everything in almost every style and in all mediums. So that results in jack of all trades, master of none syndrome. It also means my paintings have no cohesiveness as a body of work, and I feel like that should be there. I have little style of my own because I am always careening around from one thing to the next.

This is quite the contrast to how I am as a writer. I realized recently that I'm a better writer than I am an artist. Kind of a disappointing realization. Writing is work, but it's easy work for me. I never really thought about why. But I started thinking about that why. Maybe I could apply that info to my art.

It isn't just plenty of practice with expository writing that makes me a good writer. It's because when I write about something, I dig deep. I research the crap out of a topic, I read everything I can find on it, I make notes on the best info, rearrange it, write that up, and when I do that, I have gained enough knowledge and experience on whatever it is so I can come up with original ideas on the topic. So IOW, my writing is good because it's about depth, not breadth. Depth is the the environment for my writing.

I thought, how can I do that with art when I'm always all over the place? I can't. And I think that's why my art is not anywhere near as good as my writing.

So okay: concentrate on one thing. I paint three kinds of things: landscapes, abstracts, and surrealism. Which one should I concentrate on?

At first I thought landscapes. I've always loved landscapes, and I still do. George Inniss is one of my favorite painters. I've got tons of books on landscape painting, and I've already signed up for Mitchell Albala's forthcoming landscape workbook (I highly recommend his first book for landscape painters--and Suzanne Brooker's and John Carlson's). And landscapes are popular. People love them, right?

They do, but they don't love mine. I looked over the past couple of years to see what had sold. One landscape, and it was small. Most of the rest were abstracts.

I have to admit that I like painting abstracts best--better than landscapes or surreal stuff. I feel very connected to my brush when I paint them. I like that abstraction helps me dig down deep into myself and my connection with the material and spiritual worlds. Of the three focuses of my painting, abstracts feel like the most me.

And I don't have to make any straight lines if I don't want to. In fact, I usually default to curving lines and biomorphic shapes, because that's what I like to look at in life. They have a special meaning to me that I can't put into words.

Plenty of folks paint very colorful landscapes, but I have often felt constrained by local color. Conversely, with abstracts I've often painted with only two or three colors because I've been wary of jamming too many colors into one painting and losing all unity.

I want my colors to have a reason to be on the support, even if that reason is only their relationship to the other colors there. But I also want to become less wary about using them, as in this little work in progress (-->). In the past, I never would have added that pyrrole red.

So I'm going to focus on the abstract stuff for the next three years. I'm going to learn about a ton of abstract painters and go see abstract works in museums and galleries and listen to lectures about abstraction. And I'm going to paint a lot more than I have been, because for one thing, in three years I'll be 70 years old. 

Time's a-wastin'.


Gouache problem July 23, 2021 11:45

I enjoyed doing the underdrawing for my next painting. I've been wanting to work with a public domain reference photo of two Victorian women sitting on the porch for a long time. I decided to include just one of the women and modified the photo quite a bit. I looked forward to not having to worry about the pencil marks smudging into the paint because they are so opaque that they just cover the pencil marks no problem.

Once I got the drawing done, I hesitated for a few days trying to solve some background issues. I wanted more detail in the background, but none of the things I tried felt right. So I just left it as is and started on the floor.

First thing I noticed was that the perspective was off, but that was not too difficult to fix due to the opacity. However, I was sitting there thinking how much easier the floor would be if I were using transparent paints. Hmm...

I really hated how the floor came out. The color was very hard looking, even though it was ultramarine, which is one of my favorites. It just looked cheap and garish.

So I tried to tone it down and give some modeling to the floor with other colors. This took me a lot of painting thin lines up close to the paper. 

I went to bed satisfied that I had improved it somewhat but still bothered by how ugly it was.

Had a lot of interesting dreams and woke up late, around 8:30. My eyes were burning like hell.

How reminiscent that was of the end of my using acrylics. I was loving using Golden's Open Acrylics, but after each painting session, my eyes and throat burned. I had gotten sensitized to the small amount of ammonia in the paints. I was really upset by this. I felt like I had finally gotten somewhere with acrylics. 

I had to switch paints and diddled around with M. Graham gouache, which to me smelled absolutely horrible, and home-made casein, which worked okay but it was a pain to make the casein binder all the time. Eventually I went back to watercolors because they don't smell and don't give off any fumes. I also had a much more informed perspective about pigments and painting in general, so I did better with them. 

I also got into oils at that time, thinking that would satisfy my opacity jones. I really miss the ability one has in acrylics to just paint over whatever you don't like. 

I never could get oils to be as thin as I wanted them because I cannot use solvents and have had problems doing detail on account of it. I also had problems with space. Without having a separate studio space anymore, I couldn't have five paintings going at the same time, which helped me deal with the slow drying.

Recently I even started using lead driers in my oil paints just so I could get the stuff to dry faster. I even bought some lead white and put other lead-based paints on my wish list, all because they would speed drying.

Then I got the idea of gouache. Solution to all problems, right?

Wrong.

I went and looked up the MSDS for WN gouache, and sure enough, they may cause eye irritation. Luckily, I haven't spent TOO much money on gouache paints. 

My experience with acrylics was that once I got sensitized, that was it. I tried other types of acrylics, used a fan, wore eye protection, waited weeks to see if the sensitization would disappear. Nothing worked. And I ended up with some serious eye problems, which I concluded had been caused by the ammonia fumes. I never want to have that experience again. I have one good eye; I can't afford any damage to it. So I am not going to persist with gouache.

That means that unless I want to start making casein again, which I guess is possible, I am back to using watercolors. I could try painting opaquely with them. There are some pigments that are naturally opaque. But maybe I just have to suck it up and deal with the issue of drawing underneath paint.

I could use india ink and thin lines. To me, though, that looks more like illustration. 

I could also try using the grey watercolor pencils I have. 

Or I could start making casein again. I still have the powder somewhere and the pigment dispersions, which I use nowadays with gum arabic. Lifting was a big problem I had with casein, but I have learned how to deal with that in watercolors and to turn a bug into a feature, so maybe that would work. 

I think, though, that I just have to stick to watercolors.


Gouache and Lifting July 14, 2021 13:43

Painting with gouache

New medium: paper May 26, 2021 10:55 2 Comments

It all started with some old clocks.

I love clocks, especially the wind-up kind, and most especially of all, wind-up mantle clocks. For years I have prowled ebay just looking at the things and not buying one because really, I could not justify the expense when there are electronic clocks all over the place. 

Because I've felt pretty depressed since last summer, and especially so after the death of my buddy, Blackie, in January, I decided that maybe it was a good idea to do something completely different, something that didn't qualify as sophisticated art (so, no pressure) but that would take my mind off things. I thought I might not be able to afford to collect vintage wind-up clocks, but I could afford old clock cases and maybe I could "do something" with them. Something creative but not too demanding. So I started looking. I knew what I was looking for, but I couldn't articulate it. So I just looked.

I saw an inexpensive clock case on ebay and said to myself that I would like to monkey with it and turn it into something else--some kind of ritual container or cabinet or reliquary, but for witches rather than for devotees of Catholic saints (cool as their props are). So I broke down and bought the thing.

It sat in its box for weeks before I opened it. Maybe it was just a foolish moment.

Eventually, I unboxed the clock case, removed the nasty little plastic clock inside, and started thinking about what I could put in there. I began with a small dried mandrake root, which fit inside perfectly. But it wasn't quite right. Not quite what I wanted to do.

Meanwhile, thanks to Instagram (where I have discovered tons of different types of art--anyone who pisses and moans about IG being evil on account of "influencers" and all their fake shit hasn't really utilized the thing to its full extent), I ran across people doing some incredible paper art. Lots of them made paper flowers, which attracted me due to my long-time interest in plants, although no one was making the kind of paper flowers that represented my plant favorites. One of the paper-flower peopole made something that especially amazed me: a paper fish. As soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted to try making stuff with paper. When I saw a monkey's paw and a dead canary she'd made, I was sold. I just had never realized how much could be done with it.

I got an excellent book on making "uncommon" flowers, and the first example in there was foxgloves. Hell yes! 

So when we got the most recent stimulus check, I bought a ton of paper and associated supplies. But me being at the bottom of a well of grief, I didn't get around to using that paper until a couple days ago.

Belladonna paper flower

I started with making a mandrake flower, which was okay. Then I tried making a belladonna flower, which looked more like a bellflower. And then today I managed to make a belladonna flower that is passable, although the sepals need to be greener. 

I've always wanted to learn how to create 3D objects, but kept thinking well, maybe some day I might get back to pottery, but so much equipment was involved. And I knew I'd probably never be able to afford to make "real" sculptures out of metal or stone.

But I can afford paper and scissors and glue. I can learn the capabilities of paper by making these flowers and then take those techniques farther. 

Looking forward to doing something, finally. 


Work in progress 5/5/21 May 5, 2021 11:41

Between the Waves work in progress

The initial layer of this painting was a bunch of ripples made with some ultramarine pigments, just because I don't usually use them. They are just sitting there in their tubes and maybe hardening. So I figured to use some of them, together with the siccatif I bought. But I used poppy oil as a medium instead of walnut oil, so that layer took a long time to dry compared to the paintings I started with walnut oil, especially because I put a bit of impasto into it. 

Finally it dried, and I took it out this morning to work on it. Funny how turning things on their side can show you completely different possibilities for a painting. Began to apply some WN Winsor Yellow (PY74) into the center folds of the painting because the yellow + purple made me think of irises and therefore spring, and it's spring, but also I had just seen a call for a watercolor (NOT oil) competition having to do with spring. 

But I also had some lithopone (Williamsburg's Porcelain White) lying on my palette from a previous painting and thought what the hey, might as well use this. And it just growed. I added highlights with titanium. 

Right now this is tentatively titled "Between the Waves." It's 16 x 20" oil on canvas with a traditional 7/8" profile. I was a little concerned about this batch of canvases, because in the past I have sometimes found that the thinner profiles on cheaper canvases can be warped, but so far I've had luck with these Blick Premier traditional profile canvases. I do love the Fredrix Pro-Dixie canvases (which I think only come in the traditional profile), but they are almost twice as much as these. I know I want to do a LOT of painting right now, so I am going to use these. 

I really like painting watery or cloudlike images. I'm thinking of doing some series along those lines, which someone on Instagram recommended to me. Thanks!

 


Siccatif de Courtrai May 1, 2021 13:33

I mentioned Siccatif de Courtrai a couple days ago as a 19th-century paint drier containing lead and manganese that I'd bought some time ago and decided to actually try using. I hadn't used it before because I had been spooked by lead and really, I'd found that by using walnut oil and keeping 5 or more paintings in rotation, I always had something dry I could work on and didn't really need it. I had a separate studio then and so I had plenty of room to store paintings drying.

But now I don't have a separate studio and have way less room for drying paintings, though I am utilizing the space above my T5 plant lights, which get warm but not hot. Still, I felt like it was a good time to check out the various driers I have. I decided to try Siccatif de Courtrai first, not least of all because only one drop was necessary per paint glob. I thought I could deal with that much lead and manganese.

This stuff is supposed to be problematic on linseed oil, causing it to wrinkle, but it is said to work well on paint using walnut or poppyseed oil. Although I had plenty of paints made with linseed oil, I typically have used walnut oil in a solvent-free painting method. I've used poppyseed oil mostly as a finish and a sun-dried version at that. 

But the first painting I tried the siccative with, I decided to try painting with regular, NOT sun-dried poppyseed oil, since I have a bunch from a while ago. Although the siccative is supposed to render a relatively thin layer of paint dry in 8-12 hours, that was not the case with the paints to which I added poppyseed oil. In fact, the paint was still wet two days later. Disappointing. I should say I did NOT put a layer of poppyseed oil with siccative to start the painting. I think this might have made a difference.

Yesterday morning, I decided to try it with a painting where I used walnut oil as the medium. This is not any special walnut oil, not heat-treated or sun-thickened but just out of the bottle from Spectrum (although I also have a gallon jug from Jedwards, although you can get a sun-thickened walnut oil from Kremer). I started with a layer of oil+siccative that I applied and wiped off and then painted into, then added one drop of siccative to each paint glob on the palette plus the walnut oil, maybe five drops, which is about as much oil as I usually use.

Amazingly, by the end of the day, the thin parts of the painting were actually dry, and this morning, the whole painting is entirely dry. This is faster than the walnut alkyd I was using, which gives me a headache. This stuff doesn't give me a headache, although it has something of a smell. I'm thinking it has turpentine in it.

Siccitif de Courtrai by James Woods

The Siccatif de Courtrai I'm using is by James Groves and contains lead and manganese. He makes all sorts of other interesting stuff, some of which I have, like Gentileschi amber medium and the drying walnut heat-bodied oil (which he no longer makes). I will no doubt end up trying these and other of his products, since this siccative has been so successful.

Other companies also make this siccative, but they mostly seem not to include lead or manganese. For instance, I noticed that the version by LeFranc & Bourgeois comes up first in search results, but their "white siccatif de courtrai" doesn't contain manganese, from what I can see, and their newer version of it doesn't contain lead either but instead uses zirconium and calcium. Their brown siccatif de courtrai is/was supposed to contain lead and manganese, but I have not seen it for sale. Sennelier also makes a version, but likewise without either lead nor manganese. In fact, from what I can see, a number of companies make a version of siccatif de courtrai that contains zirconium and calcium instead of lead and manganese. So, not at all the same thing as what I am using, despite the name.

I saw one remark out there that said that this size bottle of siccative would be used up in one underpainting, but all I can say is that the canvas in such a case would be the size of a barn. This is for using at one drop per nut of paint. I think it's going to last me a while, and when I use it up, I should be able to get another bottle for twenty bucks, which is reasonable, IMO.

I'm going to slowly push the envelope with this siccative in terms of paint thickness, since I do like to have a certain blobby quality in some paintings. It would be great if this stuff shortened the drying time for that.


Demon Work In Progress April 30, 2021 10:37

Demon work in progress by Harold Roth

A while ago I bought a Sennelier pigment mixture called King's Blue, which is PW6 (zinc white), PB29 (ultramarine blue), and PV16 (manganese violet). I never usually buy convenience mixtures, but I remember that at that time I was beginning to move away from strictly single pigment paints. There were just some color mixtures out there that looked too scrumptious to resist, and this King's Blue was one of them. It's a pinkish blue that makes me think of dusk. 

And I thought I'd be using it precisely to paint the "blue hour" in landscape, because I was still painting plenty of landscapes in oil at that time. But I left off doing that when I switched to watercolors, feeling like landscape was trapping me. And I was fascinated by what watercolors could do for abstraction. 

Starting back with oils again, I actually did paint a landscape (which is drying so that I can go on and add lots of glazes to it), but since then, it's been abstracts. 

When I sat down to paint this morning with a blank canvas, since my other stuff wasn't dry enough to work on, I decided to try painting an abstract image of a demon I'd visualized when I woke up in the middle of the night last night. I knew the face would be some kind of red and perhaps blue for the background. 

So I reached for the King's Blue, and for the red, one of my favorites of that tribe, Williamsburg's Italian Pompeii Red. I love all of Williamsburg's Italian colors, but this is my preferred one. I've done various paintings using it. It's really more of a reddish rust color than red, but somehow for me it makes me think of ancient paintings in caves.

I think the combination of the King's Blue and the Pompeii Red really work. I will probably add a more modern, bluish red to this. Lots more to do, but this is the first of these oil paintings I really like. 


Back to oil painting April 28, 2021 17:00

I've been thinking about doing oil painting again. I've missed it, especially the ability to blend and to glaze easily. I love working with watercolor on the watercolor ground, but it limits what I can do because it lifts so easily.

OTOH, oil paints take a while to dry. I used to deal with that problem when I had a separate studio by having several paintings going at once, like five. There would always be something ready to work on each day, and it helped me learn how to paint faster. 

So this morning, I pulled out my oil painting carts and cleaned off all the tubes, which had gotten quite dusty, and the brushes, which were thick with cat hair (miss you, Blackie!) and dust. I used packing tape to easily clean the brushes and sorted through which ones seemed redeemable and which weren't. I also got rid of some that I knew I would not ever use, like the fan brushes and some grainers. I chose the cleanest ones to work with and put the brushes that had gotten stiff from old oil to soak in some citrus solvent. This is the only time I ever use solvent.

Since I'd forgotten a lot of what I knew when I last used my oils, I decided to use the walnut alkyd. This does speed up drying, and I remembered using it a lot in the past. But I forgot that it gave me a headache. I still have that headache 6 hours after finishing painting. So lesson remembered, and I will throw that stuff out.

I do usually paint oil only, no solvent, and typically have used walnut oil, although I've finished some paintings with a layer of sun-thickened poppy oil instead of varnish. It looks nice, doesn't yellow, is easy, and has no solvents. I've always wanted to try making my own paints with poppyseed oil. Nostalgia for a world I never knew, I guess. But I do own a few tubes of Blockx oil paint, which is made with poppyseed oil instead of linseed oil or walnut oil.

At any rate, I began working on a painting and quickly got frustrated, mainly because I forgot to oil in before starting to paint. Oh well. Another wonderful thing about oil paint is how easy it is to wipe off. I did that three times before I got anything that I thought was worth working further on. It's pretty terrible, but it's a start. 

My apartment is a loft, so there isn't a lot of room to store wet oil paintings, but I thought to put them  on top of the light fixtures I use for my mandrakes with a little fan blowing on them. The fixtures get warm but not hot, and this is out of the way. I can definitely put four paintings on the fixtures if I want to keep a good rotation of dried paintings going. Just not sure if I will enjoy the smell of the drying oil. It's not toxic or anything. I just don't like the scent. But at least now I not only can have all the windows open but I also bought an air purifier for a different reason, and that should help too.

After I got done, I broke out another canvas and started looking around in my cart to see what I had stored in there, and I came across mediums I'd bought in the past and not used. One of them is Siccatif de Courtrai. This is an 19th-century medium that contains lead and manganese as paint driers. I got spooked by lead in the past, in particular because in the past I often resorted to using my fingertips to blend edges of paint, and I know lead can be absorbed through the skin. So I never used the stuff.

But now I thought it would really help me to give it a try, since it is alleged to dry walnut or poppy-based paint in 8-12 hours without the wrinkling it might cause in the presence of linseed oil. If I could get a painting to dry overnight, that would be great. 

I have a ton of walnut oil on hand--I bought a gallon a while ago--but I also have some poppyseed oil. So I'm going to try oiling out with that plus one drop of the siccatif. It's also recommended that one drop be added to each glob of paint the size of a quarter. 

AND I ordered some gel finger cots, which I can use instead of my bare fingertips if I can't resist doing that.

I also see Tad Spurgeon has a new edition of his vastly wonderful book on oil painting, and that's on my list now too. I've got an older edition but would enjoy seeing what he's come up with since then. Looking forward to making stuff. 


Work in Progress 03/11/21 March 11, 2021 18:21

I was very happy to get back to painting the kind of work that I feel is characteristic for me--dark abstracts. Like a lot of people, I've been having a hellish time during this plague year plus. Yesterday, in fact, I was so horrifically depressed that I didn't see the point of painting or any kind of art at all. But this morning I thought I just have to paint for me, not for other people. And what do I like for my own painting? Mostly monotone, with lots of playing around with light, on the watercolor ground on canvas, which allows for so much play with lifting and highlighting with Guerra's titanium white pigment dispersion (plus QoR watercolor binder) and of course, with my absolute favorite paint, Dr. Ph. Martin's Payne's Gray. I swear, they should let me buy it by the 55 gallon drum. :) This combo is for me like an X-ray of the universe or at least of the spiritual realm that for me sits just behind and out of sight of our mundane world. Looking forward to working on this baby tomorrow. Or maybe even tonight.

I also got a bunch of new brushes from The Brush Guys yesterday, some of which I used today in making the lines of light but also the bright areas in this painting. I bought a bunch of different types of small brights, which is a small square brush like a flat but shorter. I find that for me brights are very handy for drybrush and for using side foward to make lines and to lift narrow areas. I actually learned about using them from oil painting, which I hope to get back to this summer. I highly recommend The Brush Guys. They have good prices and ship fast.

Getting into the groove of this ground October 18, 2020 21:57

I'm starting to find my way with these grounds. This is a work in progress on the Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground, which I applied to two 16 x 20" Fredrix Pro Dixie canvases. I have no title for this one yet, although I'll probably finish it tomorrow. This is Dr. Ph. Martin Payne's Grey, cobalt teal, DS Iridescent Gold, and titanium. 

I love how this stuff paints. I have been doing a lot of lifting in order to create the light areas and then highlighting what I want with Guerra's titanium pigment dispersion plus either Cheap Joe's gum arabic solution or QoR's watercolor medium. Lifting and then adding white is allowing me to do all sorts of stuff with glow and light. I've focused on that before, but I never realized how helpful lifting could be along those lines. I think I will extend the central part that's extending from the main shape and then do something with the top of the shape along the right-hand side. Not sure yet. This one is taking me quite a while to do. 

I guess you can tell I am really liking working with darks. :) Have a lot  more dark paintings planned. The other night I lay in bed and had a ton of ideas along those lines.


Light dimensional ground in my work October 10, 2020 08:51

The Gold Bones mixed media painting

Here's the painting I finished yesterday that was painted over light dimensional ground. It worked as an experiment: I was able to apply three coats of cold wax to protect it, although I had to be careful not to let the wax build up in the creases of the painting. I did rub off two high points of the painting, because the ground is not as hard as the plain watercolor ground, but I was able to fix that easily by just painting on the exposed ground and waxing over it. So that's a win.

However, I think I chose very much the wrong approach with this painting. I put way too much detail into it for the amount of texture it has, so the texture gets lost in the detail. From now on, I will use far less detail in paintings with light dimensional ground. Instead, I will focus on large blocks of color with a few smaller ones here and there for color contrast. I think that will work much better and allow the texture to show to its best advantage. 

On this particular painting, I got very much distracted by the texture and followed it too much, which meant that the design of the paint got lost. I am just not pleased with it. I realized after seeing the work in progress in jpg form that I had way more straight lines and chunks of color than is normal for me. I generally use a lot of fluid lines and organic forms instead. I feel like although I began to put them in after I saw how blocky the shapes were that they look pasted on. They don't fit well, and that's what I don't like about the painting. 

Finally, I've been working with metallic watercolor paint from Daniel Smith, the Iridescent series. It doesn't show well in this photo, but the light areas are Iridescent Gold. I've been enjoying learning how to work with this stuff, but I was concerned that the cold wax at the end would dislodge the particles of the paint. I am happy to say that didn't happen. So I am going to move forward with using Copper and Silver. Just getting that link to insert here, I saw that DS actually has a bunch of other colors in the Iridescent line, and I am most definitely going to try them! I do love DS paints.

So all in all, I learned a lot from this painting. 

But I'm going to take a break from the dimensional ground and go back to the regular Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground. I want to work toward creating larger abstracts, but I also want to use up my supports, so the next two canvases (a couple of nice 16 x 20" Fredrix Pro Dixie with traditional profile) I have prepared with the DS ground. This stuff does show the texture of the brush used to apply it with (although I know there are ways around that), but I like that and it does not interfere with either my design or the application of cold wax. 


A nifty discovery October 2, 2020 18:41

I recently tried some Light Dimensional Ground from QoR. I prepared two 12 x 12" canvases with it. I made one canvas very textured and the other much less so. The highly textured canvas was a problem when it came to finishing it with cold wax; the buffing tore off a couple of sharp points of texture. But I think the less textured canvas will be a success. There's only one bit that might be too sharp, and I will sand that down if necessary. Or just cut it off.

The texture, though, is gorgeous, IMO, so even though too much texture can be a problem in itself, I really want to find a way to work with it. Because look at this-->  This is as good as texture I could get with impasto oil paint or acrylic, but no waiting several days for it to dry, no smells, and watercolor is easy cleanup. 

It does act differently than paper. It's very prone to lifting, which I am trying to work with instead of resisting it. And so far I have not seen it run the way some pigments do on paper with misting. That's something I will try on the next painting to see what happens.

Because of the easy lifting, it can be difficult to glaze, but glazing with dry brush is a cinch. You can see that I've used it with the light metallic paint here. What's really nice is getting the pigment caught in all the creases--just magical! And it feels a lot like happy accident time like when doing wet in wet. 

So I was all gung ho about this ground, having decided I could work around the excess texture issue, but there was also its price. A 4 oz jar is $11 + shipping and I used up 2/3s of it on those two small canvases. So I wrote to QoR and asked them if they were going to make larger sizes of the Light Dimensional Ground available.

jars of watercolor grounds

They said that was especially marketed to watercolorists, but they had the same thing by another name: Golden's Light Molding Paste. And that comes in a 32 oz jar for $28. Heck, it comes in a bucket. Hell yeah!

I have plenty of supports lying around that I can apply this stuff to, ranging from 5 x 7" to 40 x 40" canvases and panels and boards. This stuff is so nice to spread with a palette knife too (finally I have a use for them other than mixing paint)--very sensual, like cake frosting. It is so nice not to have to worry about cutting paper to the right size to fit a standard frame and to produce works that can even hang as is, with not only no need for glazing but no need for a frame at all, if people want it (although I personally like a frame and feel like it does its job of protecting especially the corners of a support). 

So I've got a ton of this stuff now and am really looking forward to learning to work with it. 


The problem with dimensional ground, and stylization September 21, 2020 13:58

I worked on the tree painting for a while the other day, experimenting to see, for instance, how granulation would work on the lightweight dimensional ground. It worked fine. But I knew another challenge would be to see if sealing with cold wax would work on this kind of ground. 

Well, it didn't. With so much texture, the wax got caught in the creases. I could have buffed that out, but rubbing the cold wax into the painting removed a couple of the tips of texture, revealing the white ground beneath. So that's out. Which is okay--the light dimensional ground is softer than the other grounds, and I can still create texture with them, just not so much. That is okay.

I've been thinking about doing landscapes again because I find them soothing but also they are another way to connect with nature. In these tumultuous times, I thought maybe people need an escape. But then I realize it might be better to think of them as respite. A peaceful, nourishing place allows for not only a rest but a renewing and regrouping of one's energies so that we can go back out there and do what needs to be done. I feel like I can justify doing landscapes for that purpose.

Yesterday I went for a walk with friends around a marsh nearby. It inspired me, and I took photos I could use for reference. I really like being able to do that with my phone instead of having to lug my DSLR around.

Marsh wip

This morning I started on a new painting based on one of them. I had another canvas covered with the lightweight dimensional ground, but I didn't feel like using it; I wanted to use paper. So I pulled out a quarter sheet of Strathmore Gemini 500 and got to work on this, which is just the background so far.

Immediately the urge to make something Naturalist came over me, but I feel my worst landscapes have been the most Naturalist--like a really awful painting of a summer field I did some time ago. I have also resisted an urge to stylization in my landscape paintings in the past, thinking it would make them too decorative, but I'm going to go for it now and try for some more dream-like imagery through its use. I like what some other artists have done with stylization in their landscape paintings. I think it can be a good way to add some abstraction to my landscapes without going the blurry route. I like blurry landscape paintings, but I would like to try something else.


Light Dimensional Ground on Canvas September 19, 2020 12:34

Canvas with light dimensional ground

I got some of QoR's Light Dimensional Ground and applied it to a couple of 12 x 12" canvases I had sitting around. The stuff was easy to spread with a big palette knife, but I used up 2/3s of the little jar on two canvases. I don't know if I just used too much or what. I like oil paintings with a lot of texture, and I thought I might be able to capture that effect with this stuff, so I went to town. You can see the amount of texture I ended up with.

This stuff is not as smelly as the regular watercolor ground, but I still let it dry out in the hall during the day, and since we have hooligans coming into our building at night to fuck around, I took the canvases in and put them in my window to complete drying overnight. As long as it doesn't rain or freeze, I think that's going to be a good place to let stuff dry. 

Detail of tree work in progress

Today I could hardly wait to try out these supports. One technique I use a lot in watercolor is apply some paint and then mist with a hair mister to get it to run and to encourage particles of pigment to settle in the texture of the paper. I find a hair mister works many times better than a regular sprayer. You can do tiny puffs of mist just where you want them or quickly mist the whole thing to encourage granulation. I was hoping that I could do that with this ground, but I wasn't sure, since I kept reading about how it was spongy. A spongy surface might just sop up the pigment and not allow it to run. In fact, at least one review said that. 

But that's not what happened with my paint. I used Daniel Smith's Green Apatite, Winsor Newtown's Prussian Blue, Daniel Smith's New Gamboge, and Winsor Orange. The apatite settled out a dark purplish brown color different from the green that dominates it. It fell into a lot of the creases and rumples and showed up as wonderful specks. It doesn't photograph well, but the photo above shows a detail. 

Tree watercolor on light dimensional ground on canvas

Here's the whole painting. When you get close to the support, it does have the look of grainy paper, but the texture reminds me of acrylic, like modeling paste. The paint isn't shiny in any way. It's completely matte. I didn't feel much of a difference between this and painting on CP except that it lifts much more easily. I tried using that to my advantage to create limbs and trees in the background, but they ended up being overworked. I also tried some highlights that way, but it looked like too-vigorous lifting. So I think I might try lifting and then painting another color over the lift area, like zinc. 

I'm not sure if I will add more to this. It might look better with some blue added, especially my beloved cobalt, but OTOH, I'm eager to go ahead and seal it with cold wax and see what happens. I asked the manufacturer if they thought it would be okay to use cold wax on this, because of the spongy thing. They said they didn't know but sounded kind of doubtful. That might be because no one has tried it yet. 

This stuff has a lot of possibilities, but I am not sure how much I am going to use it because it is pretty expensive in terms of how far it goes. They produce it only in a small 4 oz jar. :( However, it might be possible to use Golden's molding paste and then either use watercolor on it or spread some of the regular watercolor ground over it. 

However, I did just order some of Golden's Crackle Paste to try for texture as well. I didn't realize it could be used with watercolor, but on a hunch, I thought if light dimensional ground could be used that way, so might crackle paste. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

I am sensitive to acrylic, but I did okay with these grounds and I don't anticipate hovering over the stuff like I used to do with my paints. I will also allow the supports to dry out in the hall and/or in the window, so I think I will be okay.

I know some people might say, "Why are you trying to get texture with watercolor?" I know it's not "traditional," although in the 19th century, British watercolorists used aquapasto in their watercolors, which can produce low dimensionality with watercolors and is made from gum arabic and silica gel (that is treated in a way that makes it safe).  I've used that in the past. It can give you brushstrokes similar to a not-too-heavy Impressionist style. I still need to play with that more. 

But as for why insert texture into a watercolor painting, why not? There is no reason why oils and acrylics should get to have all the fun. Texture really expands watercolor and doesn't change its fundamental nature. 

Lots of possibilities!


Experimenting with different grounds September 17, 2020 14:48

Former landscape that turned into a mess

I felt a bit stuck with that semi-landscape painting on watercolor ground on canvas. I couldn't get anywhere with it as a landscape and thought maybe it was because starting it as a landscape had been my entry into the box canyon. So I changed it up a lot, trying to push it into something abstract, but still felt like I was getting nowhere. And I thought it was just plain ugly. Bleh.  

I think part of the reason was that I just didn't feel well. Had some kind of non-COVID thing for weeks. Plus I have thalassemia, a genetic blood disease, and its accompanying anemia can cause depression and anxiety. I sure was being hit with that. And I can't paint when I'm really down. Wish I could! Instead, I just get kind of paralyzed. 

Watercolor on clayboard wip

I started up a different painting on another canvas I'd prepared with watercolor ground, but I ended up being stuck in that one as well. So I chose to mess around with some Ampersand Clayboard that I forgot I had bought to experiment with egg tempera (which I once again had learned I do not have the patience for). I found them sitting in the bottom of one of my oil painting supply carts, so I took one out and painted way too many layers of watercolor on it. These are just little 6 x 6" panels, but I did learn that yep, they are totally usable for watercolor as long as you like lifting--that is, removing paint with a wet brush. I actually have been using that as a technique after being frustrated by it for years. I always preferred to glaze, which lifting interferes with, being kind of the anti-glaze. But then when I began using dark paint and white (often not allowed by traditionalists) in watercolor, I began to see how useful lifting can be. I still have a lot to learn along those lines. This is just an experimental mess. Up in the right-hand corner, you can see where I put on so much paint that I ended up with "bronzing," as it is called--a sort of sheen that some watercolor pigments take on when you use them too thick. OTOH, you could think of it as a feature instead of a bug if you had done it on purpose. But I hadn't. However, perhaps next time...

Arrival of the Spirits wip

Then I went back to the second one I'd started to see if I could pull it out of the ditch. That was this. I had tentatively named it "Arrival of the Spirits." When I give a painting a title, that usually means that I see possibilities in it--that it might actually turn into a finished painting--although it's not infrequent that I give a work in progress a title only to abandon it and usually paint over it. I am thrifty about my supports. It's only when I can't manage to re-use a support that I just throw it out.

But this wip just kept sitting on my easel not doing anything because I couldn't figure out where to go with it. I like to use contrast in my paintings, and I had been working on that in this one. But there were so many things wrong with it. For one, I had tried to incorporate a blue iridescence that was too green. Etc.

So it sat.

Arrival of the Spirits watercolor on watercolor ground on canvas

I finally did get back to it yesterday and decided to try some drybrush on it. I first started using that when I was working mostly in casein. You dip the ends of your brush in the paint and then squeeze most of it out--in fact, it feels like you squeeze all of it out, but it turns out there is still a lot left. Then blot it on a towel. Then you kind of sweep the brush on the painting, back and forth like a cartoon house painter. It gets drier and drier but keeps on placing pigment for a long time, and even then, you can still kind of shape what's been laid down. I really like this technique. It's great for adding all sorts of shadowy depth or layers of color to a section but also good for making glow. I mixed a primary yellow with some titanium and ended up with this.

I think it's moving toward something I will finish now. Still needs more contrast and some shaping of the light parts, but it's getting there. 


Back to work September 11, 2020 16:32

I've been trying to consolidate all of the different things I do, from art to teaching classes in magic to growing plants to writing books. So I'm going to be posting here again instead of on Wordpress. Trying to keep everything closer to home and decrease the craziness. 

Texture painting on QoR watercolor groundIn terms of painting, I finally started exploring the watercolor ground I've had for the past couple of years. I applied some QoR Cold Press watercolor ground to a couple of small canvases I got from Blick to do oil experiments with. That was a year ago, and I didn't accomplish much with those experiments, but I found the unused canvases when I moved and sorted all my supports out so everything is in one place and I can find stuff.

I haven't been using my oils since I moved out of my studio back in I think it was November. It was just not an okay place for a studio. Maybe great for a sawmill, due to the noise, dust, flooding, and old lead paint falling out of the ceiling, but not for a painter. But once I was out of there, I didn't feel okay about using oils in my loft. It wasn't that I was using any solvents or other toxic stuff; I use just walnut oil with an occasional foray into walnut oil + alkyd. But the smell of oxidizing vegetable oil is not that pleasant and also I have cats. And cat hair and oil paints don't mix.

So I've been using my watercolors instead, and honestly although I do miss oils and want to get back to them eventually (I would like to move to a 1-2 BR apartment in a more convenient location in spring), I am really enjoying the challenge of watercolors. I forgot how much I love Daniel Smith's Primatek Colors (made out of rocks!) and all sorts of granulating pigments.

But I've also been missing the easy framing of an oil painting. For instance, my loft is plastered with many of my oil (and acrylic paintings), which can be hung without framing--just throw a wire on the back. I haven't even varnished most of them. 


But watercolors are another story. NONE of them are hanging on the walls because of the cost of framing them and because, frankly, I don't like framing behind glass. It is heavy and expensive and just aesthetically not the best, IMO.

So I've explored ways to seal watercolor paintings. One of them is just to spray them with acrylic + mineral spirits spray varnish. It works great but holy hell does it STINK. You HAVE to do it outside, even in the depths of winter, and it is, just as it smells, carcinogenic. No thank you cancer.

So instead, what I've been doing on and off with the watercolors is sealing them with Dorland's Cold Wax. This gives the colors a depth and richness plus protects the work from water. I use three coats, letting it dry thoroughly between each coat and then buffing with a soft cloth. It makes a nice satin sheen, really wonderful and not at all plasticky, like the spray varnishes can be. I have seen videos of people applying it with their fingers, but it does contain odorless mineral spirits (almost no smell), so I would not get this on my skin. I use a soft rag or a shop cloth to apply it. You can actually splash water on the thing when you are done and it will just bead up. You can pop your work into a regular frame with a foam backing and you are good to go. 

However, this does mean that some competitions will not allow you to enter your work as a watercolor. Instead, you enter it as "mixed media." That is fine with me. I have found that collectors do not seem to give a damn about medium. :) And if one or two watercolor societies don't allow it, well, I don't need to be part of that.

I still felt a bit weird about framing a piece on paper and I know that many people like to get a painting all ready to hang and furthermore, they just don't like works on paper. To many, if it ain't on a canvas, it ain't art. So I decided I would try the watercolor ground on canvas.

It is fabulous. I am still experimenting with it, in particular in terms of achieving some kind of granulation. But it is fab for lifting. I do think it sucks up paint. But so far I have only tried the QoR watercolor ground and not all the other brands and types.

I was concerned because in the past I had tried it and the cold wax seemed to make any use of titanium a bit dingy. But now that does not seem to be an issue. Also, I have tried going over the titanium with a thin layer of zinc and I don't see any dingyness.

I've got tons of canvases and panels from my oil and acrylic painting days, and I am going to cover them all with watercolor ground.

Next up, using the cold wax to finish these things.

I did contact QoR to ask them about whether they thought cold wax would work on their light dimensional ground, which is some cool stuff. It looks like it has really unusual capabilities with respect to watercolor. I can hardly wait to experiment with that. But they seemed a bit doubtful that cold wax would work with that particular ground, because it is a bit spongy, but I am looking forward to giving it a try. 

That said, you can do quite a bit of texture with the watercolor ground, as you can see from this photo of something I was messing around with. 

And of course, once you are done painting, you can seal the paintings on watercolor ground other than the light weight stuff with cold wax, and you have a painting that is ready to hang. I love it!


Stuff I've learned lately July 10, 2018 19:11

No matter how much I need  a good green or a peacock blue, the phthalos are not it. I had a hankering to paint iridescent blue dragonflies and hummingbirds for some reason, so I pawed through my collection of blues and greens and came up with:

1) two versions of terre verte (a dull dark green made of earth)

2) chrome oxide (good color, but very opaque and slow drying)

3) zip

So I ordered the two blue phthalos (green and red shades) and two green phthalos (yellow and blue shades) in the Winsor Newton oil paint versions. Also got some quinacridone magenta for the halibut.

I got them on Saturday and right away remembered why I had quit using them so long ago--they look like markers to me. In fact, I am sure that the pigments in blue and green markers are phthalos.  I am not a fan of colors that reminds me of markers. 

Now, I know that the green phthalo blue shade can be a great "mineral" glaze for rocks. So I tried some. Yes, but it also reminded me of markers. So I am glazing over it with other stuff.

In particular, something I found when I was digging through some forgotten tubes of paint: cobalt green.

When I was painting with watercolor in tubes, I really hated cobalt blue. I thought it was just one hell of a dead color. To me, it just looked like something that would give us cancer. Just dead.

Then I switched to making my own watercolor paints

And the incompetent jerks at Shopify lost the rest of my blog post. Because that's the way they are. Stupid, incompetent jerks who absolutely are incapable of providing a blog platform that does not delete one's work at random times.

Screw you, Shopify. You are maroons, as we used to say.

 


Lines June 30, 2018 11:27

Maybe that's why today I noticed something about my paintings. They made heavy use of lines. I think I posted about this a while ago, saying that since I had developed a tremor due to ageing that I was going to be avoiding using lines so much as I usually did. But this morning I could see that nothing of the kind had happened. 

Paintings of Sunsets June 28, 2018 09:32

Since switching to oils, I have not tried a sunset. I remembered too well how crappy my acrylic sunsets turned out--so crappy, for the most part, that I didn't display them or just painted over them. The closest I could get was a nice lavender dusk.

Avoiding the trap of reference photos June 23, 2018 15:44

Some people use reference photos as a sort of sacred text for their painting. They will even project it onto their support and trace over it. For me, a reference photo can be a valuable aid for getting some interesting shapes, but if I start trying to copy the colors, it can easily turn into a trap and the resulting painting just looks dead somehow. So usually I morph my reference photos in some major way.

Just what I need - another medium! June 19, 2018 08:44

Right away I can see that I can actually learn to use Photoshop Elements for this purpose. A lot of stuff I have tried to do just messing around is explained in the first chapter or so. So now I am looking forward to making more art, this time digitally.