Friday, December 31, 2010

Keep some of your own art

After some years of painting, I realized there were pieces I had done that I should keep.
So do the same yourself.
Build a collection of pieces that you keep for yourself.
The basis for your decision will be your own personal 'take' on it.
That is as it should be.
Some of your children should live at home.......
And then you can let the majority of them go out into the world!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Organizing your paint colors

As time passes, you will most likely have more and more paint
colors. This is how I easily find them. I have taken various
containers and labeled them with their basic color names.
(These are all oil paints.)
You will also see that I have a small set of colors which I have
left in the box below these containers. In a few cases, I
decided to keep the same brand of paint together.
These are suggestions that might make it easier for you to
find your colors more quickly, if you have quite a lot of it.
But the other thing it does is that you can easily see when
you are low on colors and can restock before you run out!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Prevent Liquin from drying up

I went through a lot of bottles of Liquin
before I figured this out. They would dry
out and I would have to throw them away
without getting my money's worth.
So now I turn the larger bottle upside
down and then there is no air there
to dry out this very useful medium! The
smaller jar that you see is where I put a
small amount to work from. If you look
carefully, you will see that the glass part of
that little jar is lighter in color than the big
bottle. That is stuff that is all dried up
on the sides of the jar. I just pour about
a half inch of Liquin in that jar and with
all these clever tricks, I now get my money's
I hope you find this helpful.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Make closeups

This is a helping tool for when you are painting something that
has a lot of detail that you may not be seeing too clearly, even
though it is right there in front of you. Take a photograph,
a close-up of the detail and study that.
I did this recently for a student who was having trouble seeing
the way the lines of the pattern curved around. With the
photograph that you see above, it became much easier to see
what was actually happening. And she drew it correctly!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Have company in your studio

The possibilities are almost endless as to what could be written upon seeing this photograph.
This is Lucy, studio mascot.
She is sunbathing, or at least being in the spotlight at which she is very accomplished.
Having a cat in one's studio while doing one's solitary work is really great.
She is a very social gal and keeps me company, as well as my students.
And she knows she is the star!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teeny tiny brush is very useful

First you see the dry brush and how few hairs it has!

Next you see its size next to a Sharpie pen.

Then you see it on my palette and that is what I'm going to
tell you about.

To properly use this brush, you have to spread out a smear
of slightly thinned paint (the longest smear on my palette
in this photo). Flatten the smear with your palette knife so
that it is easy to pick up on the brush. Then hold the brush
so that it is practically parallel with the palette surface and
twirl it so as to get it all evenly covered with paint.

I use this brush for jobs such as painting whiskers on my
cat paintings!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Try it out without committing!

The top image is the original painting (acrylic).
It is the work of a student of mine.
If you are nearing the end of a painting and need
to try out additional elements then here is a way
to do it without putting on paint that you may have
to take off and also wreck affects that are underneath
that you like and want to preserve.
Take colored paper and cut out shapes and lay them
on the painting til you like what you have. I have
done this in two arrangements. Of course I could
have cut different shapes in different sizes, but I
think this communicates the general idea.

Nothing is too small!

This sweet statue is actually only two inches tall.
A student brought it to class so I could see it after
she had done a drawing of it.
But it was so small, it was hard to see the details.

So I told her to take a photograph of it and enlarge
it so she could see the details well enough to draw

I took this photo with my studio camera to show
her what a difference it makes to really see all the
details! I put it on a plain background that enhanced
the figurine and then lit it with my desk lamp to
create what you see here!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Composition tip

When you are arranging a still life, sometimes
there is an area in the background that is a big
blah! Lighting the set up so you can now have an
interesting shadow break up the blah space is
a simple thing to do to make it more interesing.
This is a set up arranged by one of my painting
students who has just started painting after
completing her drawing courses (line and tone

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Distance from work surface

I have noticed that students can be back too far from
their drawing or painting surface. Then your arm tires
quickly and that is not good if you want to be working
for an hour or two. This distance in the photo shows
the art bent, not straight out. This is good!
Also, be sure your work surface is perpendicular to
your line of vision. If you have it slanted back away
from you too much, you will not draw things in

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cezanne made it OK

Years ago I bought all fresh fruit and veggies for my still
life paintings, and for my classes. But then I read
that Cezanne used artificial fruit in his work and that
was over a hundred years ago, so I decided to start using
the fake stuff. Over the years, I have found some pretty
remarkable fakes, like this onion.
You couldn't tell, right? You'd try to cut it up for soup,
right? Well even having it right in front of you, you would
be fooled.

If you keep your eyes open you can find some great fakes.
Florist supply places have really good ones.
But I told you that in an earlier post!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Texture close up

It is notoriously difficult to photograph textured surfaces in paintings.

Take Van Gogh's work for example. You see his paintings in art books for years and then you see it on the wall in a museum and are astounded at the thick textured surfaces he

Here I have tried to show the texture up close of the log from my previous post.
I did the texturing twice, letting the first layer dry.

In this close up, you will see that I put the second layer on with out using any paint in it, just applied the Aquapasto with a palette knife.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A way to get texture

This is not intended to be a painting! I did it as a sample of how you can achieve texture with a product called Aquapasto which is a thick version of Liquin. This product used to be called Oleopasto, but maybe Winsor and Newton changed it because it sounds like a food item!
I have put the Aquapasto on my palette and mixed paint into it. It is only on the right side of the log. When you see it up close, the texture adds a lot to the effect of rough bark.
Like Liquin, it dries quickly....overnight.
Here I have painted the first layer of texture with a dark brown.
On an upcoming post you will see that I brush lighter color over the ridges of the paint and then the dark shows behind.
If you click on the photo you can see it enlarged.
This painting example is 11 x 14 and is done with oil paint.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rogue's Gallery!

When one is learning to draw, cups and boxes and such things
of simple shapes are good items with which to start. But
then one needs to have more challenge with interesting shapes.
I have found that stuffed animals serve this purpose well.
They come in very simple shapes, but then some have limbs
that are jointed, or long flexible limbs that give posing variety
to them. The yellow bear in the middle of this photograph
was a lucky find in a supermarket! He can take all manner of
positions and presents a good challenge for drawing a shape
that breaks the bonds of symmetry! Also, his modeling rates
are very reasonable!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Props for your paintings!

This is a large basket of artificial fruit and
vegetables that I have collected over quite
some time. One year a student gave me a
gift of several pieces that were really well
done. You can see the lemon and orange at
the front (or bottom) of this basket from the
collection he gave me. Some artificial fruits
or veggies are really poorly done, but even
they have their uses -especially for me when
I am teaching basic drawing. But I always
keep my eye out for well done fakes! The
best ones I ever got were from Williamsburg,
Va. They have an enormous place just outside
of town ( and I found
these things in the flower section. I'll have to
photograph them for you to see. The onions
were especially fantastic!
So keep on the lookout for such things for your
own work. I used to only use real fruit and
veggies for my paintings. Then I read that
Cezanne used fake fruit and so I quit buying
these things!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Composing from your photos

When I see a scene that I would like to paint, I take a long shot of it, then close up shots.
The reason? Because when you photograph a long shot, there are things that are not clearly visible in the photo.
Therefore, taking closer shots of the same subject gives you more visual information.
This was a series of shots from last week when I was down viewing the
glorious cherry blossoms in
Washington, D.C.
There were families and couples everywhere, but these two were in a setting that
worked for my painting purposes!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Testing the colors for a specific palette

Some time ago, I purchased these small
canvas boards. I bought so many of them
they turned out to be 35 cents apiece!
They were going to be for my 4 x 6 inch
daily paintings. But they were not smooth
enough, and even lumpy in places.
So they took on a new life and I have used
them to demonstrate various techniques to
my students.
This is a really good use for them. When
you are going to use a color palette that
you are not familiar with, make a sample
on a small board like this and keep it for
reference as you paint. Mix white with each of
the three primaries to see how they look going
lighter and lighter. Then mix the secondary
colors under them. The last thing to do is
mix the grey these primaries will make, and
add a little white. And then mix the same
primaries to get your brown, also adding a
bit of white.
Why is this important? Well some primary
colors that you might use will not mix the
secondary colors you may be used to getting.
In the above example, because the primary
yellow is lemon yellow, it's paleness will not
get you a powerful green or orange. Having
made such a sample, you won't be in for
a surprise!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When a painting is almost done.....

Here is a way to try out a change to a painting that is nearing completion.
In the first photo you see the painting.
I am thinking that perhaps this painting needs another branch, but where to place it?
In the second photos you see a piece of colored paper with tape on it, and in the last two photos you see two different placements that I tried out.
Now why would I do this? Well sometimes you have a painting that has so much work in it that if you place a new element in it with paint and don't like it, you have to do quite a bit of work to take it out AND repaint what is behind.
This example is just that - an example.
I would not use a color so different from the painting, but I wanted you to clearly see what to do so I used a very different color. If I were really doing this for myself, I would use a piece of brown paper and I could tell much better how the placement would look.
This is something I developed on my own and when needed, it has been very effective.
I hope it helps you too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fan Brushes

When one is in the art store staring at rows and rows of brushes, it can be overwhelming. I know a lot about brushes, but I too will often just buy new ones to try them out and expand my tools.

Fan brushes always attract the eye when brush shopping because they are so different than most other brushes (I did see a 'brush' made of a bird's wing once in an art store in Santa Fe).
They come in various sizes, but they also are made of different bristle materials and that is what I want to tell you about.

First you can get a fan brush in hog's hair bristles. The bristles are stiff and are good for dragging wet paint that you have applied to get certain effects. I have used this brush to pull paint over the "edge" of a painted cloth and it helps to show the change of direction of the cloth falling over the painted edge. Sometimes I just pull the applied paint while it is still wet and sometimes I use a slightly different color and put it on top of the color already applied.

Secondly you can get fan brushes made of very soft acrylic bristles. These are not good for the job I mentioned in the above paragraph. They are for blending paint in the most delicate way.

I would suggest you try out these things on a sample board or canvas paper til you get the hang of it.

Also, if you pick paint up off your palette on your fan brush, don't pick up big clumps of paint. You made need to thin the paint down a bit with linseed oil (or whatever medium you are using) so that the paint will flow off the brush easily. You will have to reload the brush often, sometimes with every stroke. Notice that a fan brush is thin and is not made to hold a lot of paint, therefore you have to reload often.

You can use part of the fan brush, the side edges. You don't have to use the whole thing. Sometimes you need to use one of these but the entire fan shape is too much for the job. Just load one side of it and do the job!

Tip: if someone can tell you used a fan brush for effects in your painting that isn't a good thing!
You don't want it to look gimmicky. Keep it subtle.