Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tempt your fate on Eight

What's happening down there? An opening into an alternate reality? [cue Twilight Zone theme]

Friday, December 25, 2009

Körtét Trio

This is about 7-1/2" x 9", on 140lb cold press watercolor paper. I began by 'gluing' empty and cut-open Mandarin Orange Spice teabags and other teabag scraps onto the paper using Colourfix primer as the adhesive. Next I painted on 2 or 3 coats of white Colourfix primer. I let the whole thing dry overnight.

The underpainting was done with Neoart Aquarelle water-soluble "wax pastel" crayons, washed with water. I liked the way the crayons left a texture on the teabaged areas of the surface. (I dug the crayons out to see if I still liked them. I am trying to resist the urge to buy the ridiculously expensive DS Watercolor Sticks.) I was worried that the waxiness might interfere with the adhesion of the pastels, but it wasn't too bad. Especially after washing with the water. Anyway, nothing a little SpectraFix between layers didn't solve!

The painting is about 85% Panpastels and the rest soft sticks. I like the lost edges, especially on the right, and I like the reflections and the overall crustyness of the surface. I don't like the middle pear or its stem. Both look nervous. C'est la vie.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mortlake It6: Clearly on "A Roll"


Underpainting of gouache. Golden Heavy Gel on the canopy area (applied with a palette knife), overlaid with Colourfix primer in clear.

Learned:
✱ The gel medium dries pretty fast with a fan on it. Sufficiently dry to allow application of the primer. I imagine the gel will continue to 'set up' for a while. It's alive!
✱ Need to be quicker and looser. Still! Also don't need to post every single iteration, do I? Except in the composite. Which looks cool, I admit.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mortlake It5


So then:
this is the challenge
✱ this is the inspiration, JMW Turner's Mortlake Terrace

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wait. What?

Bull's eye! (Click on the image. Kewl!)

Mortlake It4

Outlandish colors? I'll give you outlandish.

Lessons:
✱ Warms advance. Cools recede. Tinker with this at your own risk.

(Reminder: this is the challenge that I am attempting.)
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Composite:


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mortlake It3


Iteration #3 in the challenge. Lower left. What I learned:
- Perspective and distance. What makes this image strong is the vanishing point, to the left of the trees. Don't let that peter out. Or let it get away from control.
- Complimentary colors. Fun, but banal. Try more outlandish combos.
- Speed. Don't dawdle. Crank 'em out.
- Pastemat is the greatest thing going!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Examined: Eight Adaptable Pastel Supports


Try quick-drying, clear Colourfix Primer on these 8 surfaces:






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. Regular Pastel Paper (100 lb.) -- I like some of the colors of the Daler-Rowney pastel paper. I had two different sized pads of this paper spiral-bound at Kinko's, with glassine bound between each page. Then I put a light coat of the clear primer in the "back" (smoother) side of each sheet. Now I have a coupla real nice traveling sketch pads! The primer causes the Daler-Rowney paper to buckle a bit. But I can flatten it after the clear primer dries with heavy books. These pads are just fine for sketching. (Try the same prep-work with Canson paper too, a paper which is, in my opinion, impossible to use without a coat of Colourfix primer.)
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. Heavy Japanese print paper (estimated at 100-140 lb.) -- With the heavenly surface texture and the beautiful deckle edges (and your 'image' going all the way to the edge) this makes a very nice 'floating' piece framed. If you apply the primer carefully with a damp "foam" brush, you can retain most of the paper's texture.
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. Saint-Armand 'Colours' watercolor paper (140 lb.) -- This is Canadian paper. Outstanding colors and texture. Nice edges if you want to make your own torn deckles.
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. Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, 'Rough grain', 300 lb. -- Beautiful surface, real lush paper. Love the funky bumpiness, which is retained even after application of the primer.
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. Handmade one-of-a-kind paper -- We have a papermaking and book arts school/studio here in town that has workshop-made paper for sale on occasion. You can get some really nifty textures, colors, shapes, and sizes. Look around for handmade paper where you are. It can be mounted on museum board if it's too flimsy. Again, apply the primer carefully with a damp "foam" brush.
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. Museum Board or "Illustration Board" -- in "extra heavy weight", usually 40-ply. This is the ideal surface for me. I love this. I use this good board as the base for any and all of my other outlandish surface treatments and then finish with the Colourfix primer. A frame shop will cut big sheets of this for you with their mat cutter, into any sizes you wish.
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. Acid-free Foamboard -- I didn't like this surface. It bends too easily for me: too fragile. But the light weight is a plus, if you are plein-airing or traveling.
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. Ampersand Hardbord or masonite board -- Might need a few coats of gesso or something under the primer, but why not? I have used it successfully. If you are starting with a watercolor or gouache underpainting, you can begin on their "Aquabord".

Plein air TIP:  Bring a jar of clear Colourfix primer along on your plein air painting trip. So if you run out of Wallis or Uart paper, you can prepare your own surface using 300lb watercolor paper or board. Never be without good sanded paper again!

More Info:
 -- Colourfix primer how-to tip sheet (PDF file)
 -- Product Test: Art Spectrum Colourfix primer, from Benoit Phillipe on My French Easel
 -- Creating Pastel Surfaces...The Products and Techniques! is a video from Fine Arts in Rochester
 -- Colourfix Primer on Watercolor Paper is a thread in WetCanvas

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Did I leave anything out? Are there any good surfaces you've used with Colourfix primer? Click on COMMENTS, below, and tell us!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Milky Way


Shane Pickett, Harsh and Arid the hotter days summers.* He is one of the artists in the show Culture Warriors: Australian Indigenous Art Triennial, sponsored by the National Gallery of Art of Australia. Lately (with fewer numbers of works) at the AU Museum at the Katzen Center.

. See all the images in the show here. (Each image has a wonderful audio commentary, in an Australian accent. Explore!)
. See the Post's review here.
. Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at UVa in Charlottesville
. Another wonderful Shane Pickett image here, entitled Calling for Rain - the Wanyarang

OUTSTANDING stuff! All of it!

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* this pic courtesy of Indegenart: The Mossenson Galleries, in Subiaco, Western Australia

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Cereal Killer'

Delightful oeuvre of Terry Border. Click on the image at left to see seventeen more of these vignettes. Tee heeee!
You gotta pay close attention to the titles, too. 'Stud Muffin'? Oh yeah.
(Terry Border's blog is here.) Christmas idea: buy his book!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eye Yi Yikes!


Aren't these Eyescapes nifty? Artist = "Rankin" (one-word name I guess, ala 'Cher') a UK art, advertising photographer.
Click on the eyes, above, to see the full series.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Night on Bald Mountain

Or, er, possibly: 'Night on Drab Mountain'. Easel shavings and miscellaneous powders from the Save Jar on dark gray Pastelmat.


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"The Sorcerer's Apprentice is the English name of a poem by Goethe (Goethe? who knew?), Der Zauberlehrling, written in 1797. The poem is a ballad in fourteen stanzas. The poem begins as an old sorcerer departs his workshop, leaving his apprentice with chores to perform."

Listen to The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the "symphonic poem" written by Paul Dukas in 1897. He had an excellent moustache, was a pal of Debussy's, and generally made his living as a music critic. He did little composing, with one immortal exception: listen to it here.

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<------- Bonus Word of the Day: kthxbai Excellent! Make it your own. Useful in a plethora of situations and on a myriad of occasions. My guess is that this particular spelling variation is the southern-accented pronunciation.
 

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The 37 Express

The streets were nearly empty at 5:30 yesterday evening. My Fellow Commuters? Already commuted outta here.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Five of the Most Regrettable Non-Recyclables*


1. Wire hangers from the drycleaners (arrggh)
2. Small appliances (hairdryers, cordless phones, coffee grinders, electric toothbrushes)
3. Ziploc bags (and twist ties)
4. Packing popcorn and bubble wrap
5. Unopened untouched packages of slimy romaine lettuce
(*at least I don't recycle these: ignorance! + sloth!)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Work-In-Progress Castle Corner

Final (stop, already! sheesh) version on the left. (Ref pic at bottom.) From our class session today. This is a corner of the hopelessly Victorian Arts & Industries Building adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle. There are lovely pockets of very formal garden around the building, in nooks and crannies. We spent the last hour or so of our class out there, painting.

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Lesson: never hand a little redneck kid a stick of pastel and show him what you're 'coloring'. He will slap a mark down across your tree area as fast as you can say 'Richard Petty Rocks'.  'Scuse me, uh, ma'm? Kin ya tell me where that thar Space Museum iz?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Irene Autumn

Out my windah. Which was wide open all day: high 72°F and sunny, sunny, sunny. Lazy Sunday afternoon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Aamsskáápipikani Pond


This is about 7" x 11" on 300lb. Fabriano Artistico 'rough' watercolor paper with a brawny deckle edge. It's got some fiber paste on it and then some Colourfix primer. I did an underpainting with gouache. The rest is about 90% pans and 10% softies.

I like the creamy water in the foreground. I don't know why.

This pic is 'after' an old 'photogravure' from the Edward S. Curtis image collection at the Library of Congress. The photo is described as "Two tepees reflected in water of pond, with four Piegan Indians seated in front of one tepee." The LC record doesn't say when or where it was taken, but the Piegan Indians are a part of the Blackfeet Nation, whose reservation is in northwestern Montana, just east of the glorious Glacier National Park.


Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868 - 1952) was a photographer in Ye Olde West, concentrating on American Indians. And was quite jaunty himself, as you can clearly see.  He is renown for his photos but also criticized for manipulating images to remove all traces of 'civilization' (see: the 'Noble Savage' concept) and for paying his subjects to pose in carefully controlled vignettes, in "inaccurate dress and costumes" and partaking in "simulated ceremonies". Still and all, he WAS mighty gosh-durn slap-mah-thigh cute.

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15Nov09 ADDENDUM: Enjoyed the Kevin Locke Ensemble's 'The Drum is the Thunder, the Flute is the Wind' music, dance, and narrative presentation at the National Museum of the American Indian yesterday afternoon. The leader of the troupe's tribal affiliation and the origin of the story told in the first part of the program are both northern Plains Indian, so a nice segue from my (or to my) 'Aamsskáápipikani Pond' sketch. As well as a possible re-re-re-re-screening of the fan-fav Dances with Wolves . . . hmm.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chorizo Floor Show


I don't ever boast about my culinary prowess, mainly because I have none. None. As in zippa. But this big pot of beans turned out really remarkably tasty. And I will happily eat it three (at least) times a day for the whole weekend. All the seasoning you need for this is already in the Chorizo.

16oz. bag of dry Goya Navy Beans
14.5oz. can of Hunt's Fire Roasted Tomatoes Diced with Garlic
2 Tbs. bacon fat*
medium onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced in a press
2 Chorizo sausages from Wagshal's
6 to 7 cups of chicken stock (use stock, not "broth")
1 cup of organic baby carrots (could be more)
sour cream

1. Melt the bacon fat in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic. Remove and put into the slow cooker pot.
2. Take the casing off the Chorizo sausages and sauté them, breaking them up as you go into small nodules. (Might need more bacon fat here. Don't be shy.)
3. Remove the sausage and put it in the pot. (Include all the skillet scrapings. Loosen them with a wisk and some stock if necessary.)
4. Rinse the dry Navy beans for a moment in a collander and then put them in the pot.
5. Add the diced tomato, the carrots, and the stock. Stir.


6. Cook forever. (I cooked mine for about 9 hours on "Low".) Serve with a generous glob of sour cream on top (also nice with grated sharp cheddar on top instead of the sour cream), with side salad, toasted multi-grain bread and butter, and a muga beer.

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*bacon fat: If you don't routinely save (snug in the refrig) the drippings from cooking bacon, are you nuts?, don't despair. For this recipe, sauté (yeah = fry) some bacon slices in the skillet, enough to get about 2 Tbs of liquid, maybe four slices. Or so. Remove the bacon slices to drain, keeping all the drippings and scrapings in the skillet. Then go on to sauté the onions, etc. Don't waste the cooked bacon. Chop it up and add it to the cook pot.

[20Dec09] ADDENDUM: You can also use andouille sausage. Since it's smoked, you can't get it out of the casing. So you have to dice it up small well before you saute it. (N.B.: "Andouille is an in French, designating a ridiculous or incompetent person, or a rascal; this may be linked to the old British slang “silly sausage”, which describes a person as stupid, foolish or naive."