Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blending a Background

I wanted to show a gradient of color as a background on my latest painting project. Blending large areas with acrylics is not an easy task to accomplish. The acrylics unlike oils like to dry fast which leads to possible un-uniform or a poor gradual transition from one color to the next.

When I want to cover a large area I make sure I have plenty of paint mixed up so as not to run out and then try to re-mix more paint and not have the exact combination to match the earlier mixture. Painting a gradual transition on a smaller canvas is a lot simpler than a larger canvas such as a 24"x48" which is the case in this project.

In order to make my transition of color look smooth, I mix three different mixes of the same color. By this I mean I would take the original mix, only this time I would add some white to lighten it up. This would give me my middle tone. Then I would take that combination and make an even lighter mix and that would give me my high tone "lightest value". So in essence I have three different swatches of paint on my palette, once again a step not needed when it comes to a smaller canvases.

I was working on two panels at the same time in order to maintain consistency because these panels are to be placed almost side by side so I wanted it to look uniformed. I placed both canvases on a table only because these were gallery wrap canvases and I wanted to get the edges at the same time. Working quickly, I stated at one end "bottom" with my darker color painting towards the center; once close to the center of the canvas I added the mid-tone and blended the two colors together. Making sure my brush was clean I added the lighter mix and blended it with the mid-tone, then continued to paint to the end of the canvas "top" with the lightest color.

24"x48" gallery wrap canvases painted on a table.

24"x48" canvases on my wall easel ready for paint.

One thing to remember is that you have to make sure you have a clean brush for the purest color areas. If you happen to also know how to use an air brush, this is an alternative way. What can I say, I got lazy and did not want to set up my guns, let alone the clean up work. You might want to have an extra brush or two for the blending areas. I always went back and quickly cleaned my brush. With practice and a no fear attitude of making a mistake you too can blend your backgrounds with acrylic paints. Now let's paint!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Good Rule

A good composition always makes a painting or photograph a more interesting piece of artwork. Besides the subject and colors being used, composition plays a big role in the project. An easy rule to follow for a good composition is to use "The Rule of Thirds." This is an easy rule or guide to follow without getting hung up on the mathematical formulas of the Golden Ratio, aka the Golden Mean, The Divine Proportion, and I'm sure there are others. For many years, designers, photographers, videographers and painters have been using the rule of thirds for good compositions of their work/designs. Please keep in mind this is just one type of compositional technique that can be used. There are others such as formal balance, and the imbalanced. The rule of thirds technique is an informal balance composition from which I prefer to use.

The rule of thirds is the process of dividing your canvas or whatever support you may be using into thirds. Divide your support into thirds with two imaginary vertical and horizontal lines on your support. Anywhere the imaginary lines intersect is the location your main center of interest should be placed or at least close enough to it. During the design phase it's always a good idea to look for pointers that will help lead the viewers eyes to the center of interest. It could be a tree line, path, tree branch, shadows or if your subject is something other than a landscape, try to arrange elements to point the viewer to your center of interest ie; drapery, edges of furniture, wall, chair, etc. You do not have to paint everything that you see out there either. Use your creative license to add or subtract elements in order to make your painting an overall better composition.

When I am taking pictures for possible studio works I also use the rule of thirds while taking the photographs. As I am looking through my viewfinder of the camera I will turn the camera vertical and horizontal, zoom in, and out if needed in order to look for a good composition while using the rule of thirds technique. This saves a step in the design process later when you are looking through photos for possible painting subjects. You can still use this technique with older pictures by doing some cropping in the photographs. So, the next time you are designing your next masterpiece, keep the rule of thirds in mind for a better composition. Now let's paint!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mixing Colors

Mixing colors on my pallet is not the only place I apply this process, I also mix my paints directly on the canvas, pushing two colors together in order to create a third or even fourth color. I usually pick up a dab of paint from my pallet, make a brush stroke on my canvas, go back to my pallet and pick up another color and mix it in with the previous stroke on my canvas. I will continue to push the paint around till I get what I was looking for. Try to keep in mind not to over mix the colors because then you will lose the color and might wind up with mud or a dull look to your paintings.

I never use the colors straight out of the tube. My colors are always a mixture of two or more colors from a tube. Besides the colors that I use for my pallet that I wrote about in one of my earlier articles, "Talk About A Limited Pallet", I make my own black or at least I should say a dark color that looks black in relation to its surrounding colors. I achieve this dark color by mixing raw umber, hunter green, cerulean blue and red. If I want a grey, I will add white to the dark color that I just made. For a true natural green I mix raw umber, and hunter green. Cadmium yellow is added to the green mix in order to get the different values of green. I also like to add a little blue to the green to show different types of foliage. I try not to use white by itself because white tends to be on the cool side. I will often mix just a little yellow oxide to my titanium white to get a warm white.

Above is a close-up of the red square area on the painting.

I try to use at least three different values of a particular color on an area I am working on, however four or more is even better. These values would be your dark-tones, mid-tones, and high-tones. Anything else between these tones is icing on the cake. I always come back at the end and add highlights here and there where needed.

Not being afraid of making mistakes is always a good attitude to have when painting. Sometimes this is the only way one will learn what works for them. Think to yourself, "My next painting is going to be even better because of what I have learned today in this painting session". Always try to do better the next time around. Remember what worked and what did not and before you know it your paintings will have that professional look to them. Now let's paint!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To Tone or Not To Tone?

That is the question. Toning the canvas is something I got in a habit of doing for the majority of my paintings. Painting on a canvas that has not been toned could result in having to touch up those nasty little white specks of canvas peeking throw your finished art. What a waste of time having to touch up those areas and don't forget to match the touch up paint with the paint on the canvas. Now don't get me wrong, toning the canvas does not mean there aren't any specks peeping through. It's just that they won't be as noticeable if they are of a neutral color.

Some painters will tone their canvas in colors that best works with their pallet. These tones can be warm as in warm grey, sienna or yellowish tint or they can be on the cooler side like a blueish, green or violet color. Unless I want my colors to be bright and pop out for a particular type of subject, I usually use an earth tone on the sienna side on all my canvases. I mix in about equal parts of burnt sienna, raw umber, and yellow oxide.

After I get my mixed paint for toning, I apply the paint on my canvas with a 2" paint brush from the hardware store. After I apply the paint mix to the canvas, I go back and wipe it down with a cotton rag leaving a nice warm brown tone. Most of the time when I am toning a canvas I tone as many canvases as I can with the mix I made in order not to waste paint. I always use acrylic paints to tone my canvas mainly because I paint in acrylics. If you paint in oils it is a good idea to use acrylics for the tone because the acrylics dry real fast and you are ready to paint in no time.

Looks like someone needs a haircut.

Always a good idea to have extras.

Some of the advantages of toning a canvas are.

1. You don't have to touch up those pesky little white specks after your painting session.

2. You are not staring at a bright white canvas reflecting light in your eyes, especially if you are painting outdoors.

3. The paint applied to the tone canvas are closer to a true reading of the color you are laying down.

If you do not tone your canvas, a good practice is to lay the paint on thick. This will help alleviate the need for touch up in the end. So, back to the question, to tone or not to tone? This is a matter of preference. And what works for others may not necessarily work for you. It's just a matter of finding that which does work in your situation and through experimentation one can find that formula that best fits their needs. Now let's paint!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Drawing Skills

One of the important skills to have when painting outdoors is the ability to draw the subject at the blink of an eye. The time is ticking away and the light is changing at a rapid pace. After you finally set up your equipment at your perfect painting spot, there is very little time to get tied up in the drawing phase of your painting. Too often I see novice painters wasting a lot of time by drawing and erasing, and drawing and erasing. By the time they are ready to paint the light has changed dramaticly. There is way too much time spent on the preliminary phase of the painting. Some painters like to sketch on a little drawing pad and enter value notes to capture how the light is falling on their subject. This is a pretty cool idea and has worked for others. I like to rely on my memory bank as I paint. In the beginning of my painting session I take in a mental picture of what I saw when I started the process. The whole idea is to keep it simple, draw quickly, however draw accurately in order to represent your subject well. Drawing in the main shapes of the scenery is all that is needed. I only allot myself a minute or two to sketch my scene on the canvas and I always draw with a small flat brush loaded with raw umber paint. The rest of the subject is painted in as I go along like a sculptor chiseling away at his block. I highly recommend having good drawing skills before tackling the great outdoors. It would make painting outdoors a more enjoyable experience. Now let's paint!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Talk About a Limited Pallet!

I am always asked what colors do I use. Everyone has their favorite pallet. I used to obsess over the many pallets that are available out there. I finally settled down with my favorite colors. Some painters use limited pallets and some want to use the whole spectrum of the color wheel on a painting. The more the better, right! For the most part my pallet is usually the same colors every time I paint outdoors or even when I paint indoors. The only exception to my favorite few is adding 1-2 extra colors that make it out of my painting box. As far as what colors I use? First, I use Liquitex Acrylics without any special retarder additives. The only thing I use to keep my pallet from drying too fast is my spray bottle. The colors I use are Hookers Green, Raw Umber, Yellow Oxide, Cad Yellow Light, Cerulean Blue, Pyrrole Red and Titanium White. If you notice I did not add black in this list and that's only because I do not use black. Everyone has their favorites, and these are mine. Happy Painting!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Plein Air Video Clip

I took some pictures as I painted this painting titled "Pond Life" This is a short video clip of the steps I take during my painting sessions. The painting is an 11"x14" acrylics on canvas painted in my back yard pond on one beautiful Saturday morning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Art Exhibit at Starbucks

My one man art show at Starbucks was a success. It was a lot of fun to talk to art admirers, friends, and family. Friends that I haven't seen in over a year also stopped by for the event. Even my grandson Jackson came from Tampa to see his Grandfather's paintings. It was a wonderful evening and a lot of fun.

Great Friends!

The Great Mr. Nat from Lake Weir High!

My beautiful Daughter Stacey

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ugly Before Beauty

I am often told that my acrylic paintings look like oils. What do I do to them to give it this look. I always say, it's like a construction project. It will look ugly in the beginning, however keep building and pushing paint on the canvas and it will turn out all right in the end just as you've always envisioned it to be. This latest painting is also of our garden.

acrylics on canvas 16"x20"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Garden

More and more I am going back to my favorite place to paint. my own back yard. There are so many areas that I want to paint in the garden that I don't know if I am ever going to run out of subject areas. The garden is a lovely paradise that my wife and I enjoy just sitting enjoying a cold one and watching the fruits of our labor, well more on her labor than mine.

acrylics on canvas 16"x20"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Art Exhibit at Starbucks

I will be exhibiting my paintings at Starbucks at Ocala Town Square Oct. 9, 2009 from 6 pm to 9 pm. Don't forget to stop by and enjoy some free coffee samples, snacks, music and fine art. Artwork will be available for purchase.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ferran Park Paint Out

My friends of the OPAP and I went to paint at Ferran Park in Eustis this saturday. What a wonderful day for outdoor painting it turned out to be. Here is the painting I painted
on location that morning.

Ferran Park, 16"x20" acrylics on canvas

It was just a matter of time

Well, here I am with my blog. I didn't think I was gonna give in to the scene of blogging and what do you know, I fell right into it. I am a new at this so this is going to take some getting used to. Please be patient with me because I am not good on the keyboard.