Wednesday, April 27, 2011

9th Annual Juried Member's Show at the Leighton Art Centre

24 x 36

I hope you can join me at the opening of the Leighton Art Centre's 9th Annual Juried Member's Show on April 29.  The opening reception is from 6 to 9 pm and they always have great munchies.

My piece "Daydreaming" was accepted into this show and I look forward to seeing all of the other works that were selected.  
See you there!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Linen Revisited

Dragonfly Cloth
20 x 16
I got another shipment of linen this week: this time I went for the #13 double primed Claessens. It's lovely and smooth and takes the paint in a totally different way than gesso. But, still, there are a few tiny pinholes of light when I hold it up to the light. Fewer and much smaller than the single primed linen, but still there.

This time, I emailed Claessens about it. While one faulty batch seemed reasonable, I doubted that such a reputable company would have lots of them out there.

I got this encouraging reply from the company:

"Pinholes are a common "problem", it all depends on some technical elements. We are aware that this does not look nice. You will probably have seen on our site that all of our canvases are glued before the coatings are applied. This glue is applied for some reasons, one is to protect the linen fabric from the paint used; both our coatings and your paints. The pinholes are just in the coatings not in the glue. If the glue is not well applied it would show on the back and paint would pass through. I suppose this is not the case.

The pinholes will not influence the fact the painting is archival or not. From our experience paint has not a large influence on the canvas in the long run, the biggest treads are the fact paintings are kept in bad conditions: humidity, dust and so on. If a painting is kept in good conditions then we do not expect problems in the future. Can I refer in this context to the efforts museums and galleries do to keep humidity and airflow controlled.

If you are also looking to have an as smooth surface as possible you can eventually decide to add an additional layer, this will brightened at the same time the canvas and cover the remaining pinholes."

I quickly ran out to the studio to examine the back of a painting - no paint had come through! All is well and I can now use my linen in peace. I'm a worrier about the archival potential of my work and so this sort of issue can, literally, keep me up at night.

In light of this information, I've removed the earlier blog about the linen pinhole problems.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Experimental Painting

Weeping Birch
32 x 26

Robert Genn's recent letter about the importance and fun of artistic play really struck home.  Sometimes it's easy to get too serious in the studio and I find myself editing as I paint.  Instead of exploring and trying to find new ways to use the paint to express myself, I do the same sort of subject that I've done before, thinking ahead to its placement in one of my galleries.  Consistency of work does matter to galleries.

Luckily, I catch myself now and then and allow myself to just play and try new things.  "Weeping Birch" comes out of this spirit.  I wanted to paint a portrait of the tree in my front yard, making it as multi layered and majestic as the tree itself.  Instead of working wet-in-wet as I normally do, however, I made drippy, spattered, warm layer of abstract colour over the entire canvas and let it thoroughly dry.  Then I went over it and painted the tree, making sure that plenty of the underpainting was untouched in the final painting.  The white, papery trunk of the birch allowed lots of scope for playing with bright, light colours and, by using more medium than usual, I could create textures that didn't immediately look like brushwork.  This was a refreshing change in the surface of my work.

I enjoyed this method of working and am going to do more of these.  The only thing that bothers me is waiting for the underpainting to dry.  Still, if I get several paintings underway at once, I should be able to overcome my impatience.

Next, I think, I'll do a figure using this approach, and I'll do more work in designing the underpainting.  This play has, I hope, launched a series.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Problem with Great Skin

"Drowsy Model"
16 x 12

This gorgeous, young woman, Julie, recently modeled for my students and me. She has the most amazing skin: like thick cream. She modeled for two classes and in the first one I lit her with the regular mix of colour-corrected fluorescent and halogen spots. It was impossible! Her skin had such a variety of subtle warm and cool colours on it which this basically cool, flat light brought out completely. So when we tried to paint her, the results verged on bizarre: lavender, mint, rose, cerulean - she had them all.
The second week, I lit her with just the warm spots and turned off the fluorescents. Then I moved a spot over each painter's easel so that we were painting under the same light. This is important. It's much harder to get a good, believable painting when your canvas and your subject are lit differently.
The dramatic lighting helped us a lot. Julie's skin took on a simplified warm colour with fewer variations across her form and we had the benefit of a strong value pattern to play with as well.
I'd like to try to paint her again sometime under the flat lighting because I didn't succeed the first time, but I was pleased to have found a way to capture her at all!

Monday, April 11, 2011

FCA Award of Excellence

32 x 32

I was notified that "Fishing" received an Award of Excellen
ce in the FCA Thompson Nicola Shuswap Chapter show which opened this past weekend in Kamloops, BC.  
I am honoured and pleased!

Yesterday I went out for some plein air with my son.  He fished (with a rod, not with his hands as he did in the painting above); I painted.  Luckily, I photographed him fishing because by the time I was ready to put him into my landscape, he'd moved off down the river.  Painters are not as mobile as flyfishermen so I couldn't follow him.  I will try to pop his figure into the landscape today in the studio.  I'll post the results if they were successful.  If not, well, it was a great day in the sun anyway.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Calgary Sketch Club Demonstration

 Daisies and Country Roses -demo painting
14 x 18

Last week I did a demo for a local artists' group, the Calgary Sketch Club.
It was a lot of fun and a bit of an experiment.  I decided to try my limited palette out for the floral and, because I'm not that familiar with it, I was taking a risk!  

It looked like I was going to regret this decision when I tried to mix a reddish purple right at the start.  Instead of putting the usual Cad Red Light on my palette, I'd used Cad Scarlet which contains the same pigment: PR 108.  They may have the same number, but Cad Scarlet is definitely more of a yellow red; totally inappropriate for purples.   Luckily, I'd packed the CRL just in case, so I scraped it off the palette and carried on.  

After that, things went smoothly, to my relief.  There were lots of good questions which really helped to make me feel at ease and the limited palette surprised us all with its versatility.  There's always a wonderful moment the first time I show how ivory black and white make a beautiful, vibrant blue when applied next to warm colours.  It seems like magic. 

Below are a couple of pictures of the demo in progress and the picture above shows the finished piece.  The demo was about 1 1/2 hours, and I put in another 45 minutes in the studio the next day, mainly pumping up  the lights.