Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On with the ACEOs!

I was particularly pleased with how this one came out - specifically the illusion of light on the owl.  The background was quite a challenge.  After masking out the owl, I built it up with layers of transparent acrylic washes then painted the "aurora borealis."  For that I used a wide flat brush side-loaded with opaque white gouache mixed with turquoise and blue.  Then I went over it with violet, blue, and green interference paints.  I'm not sure people will know that it's supposed to be the aurorea borealis, but at least it makes a nice background.

I always enjoy painting owls!

As a postscript, I wonder why I can never seem to get perfect coverage with the masking fluid no matter how hard I try?!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Raccoons are Raiding the Berry Bushes

These three photos show the progression of this little ACEO.  After transferring the drawing, I began the painting with light washes in the background and on the raccoons.

Next I got out my #00 script liner brush and made little hairs on the raccoons.  I used a variety of colors in the gray area and began with burnt umber in the areas of fur that would become black. Burnt Umber with Black gives a nice rich dark.  (In china painting, they have a color called "brown for black."  I used the liner strokes not only to build color, but also to build texture.

After completing a layer with the lines I often washed over either the entire area or parts of it.  I used these washes both to build color and to add shadows and build form.

In this second photo, both raccoons are complete.

As I was painting them, I noticed that my technique feels a lot like drawing with a brush - almost like drawing in pen and ink but in color.

Mostly I used transparent soft body acrylics, but the wuite opaque gouach came in handy in several places, notably the highlights in the eyes and the whiskers.

After I was done with the raccoons I masked them out with frisket so that I could paint the background more easily.  After beginning the background with transparent color splotches and criss-crossing branches, I finished with gouache forthe leaves and berries.  For the final touches, I removed the mask then added the branch in front of the forward raccoon's arm.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another Fox

I just can't seem to resist painting and drawing foxes.  This latest one is coming down the woodland path through a patch of wild flowers.  It's another one of my ACEOs to post on eBay, which I will do in a couple of days.

I'm getting more and more accustomed to the acrylic and gouache combination, and am also liking it more and more.  It seems to be just about the perfect combination for the way I like to paint.

I began by blocking in the background rather dark with Sap Green and Raw Umber acrylic, but was careful not to paint over the fox which remained the white of the paper.  The pattern was pretty loose with just a suggestion of the path in the middle and the foliage on either side.  Then I went over it with abstract-y leaf type shapes in a few shades of greens made by mixing my acrylic greens into the white gouache. 

Then it was on to the fox.  I painted him entirely with transparent acrylic, alternating layers of washes with tiny strokes with a liner to build up the fur texture and model the shapes.  It was only at the end that I switched to the gouache for the light highlights.
To finish the piece, I switched to gouache to detail the foliage and add the flowers.  I think having some of the weed strands coming over him is important - and made possible by the opaque acrylic gouache (Holbein Acryla Gouache).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Liking Peach

I was really liking peach for these two - glazes of Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow Medium, and Quinacridone Burnt Orange over each other.  The glazes are so satisfying with the soft body acrylics since when a layer dries, the next layer doesn't disturb it at all.  I find colors created this way so much more vibrant that when I mix them ahead of time.

Boy were the roses hard to paint!  The one on the right came out best, in my opinion.  I tried to remember my china painting days (never was very good at roses though), but they were quite a struggle.

Both of these pieces show how great it is to be able to use the opaque gouche.  In the pink roses, I used the opaque white for the petal edges.  And then I could glaze over it with the soft body acrylics.  For the rabbit, I used the opaque gouache for the underpainting of the leaves and single roses after I was done with the rabbit.  From there I detailed them with the soft body acrylics.  It sure was a treat to not have to paint around everything!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keep on Paintin'

 I'm finding my new enterprise of selling my tiny paintings on eBay to be quite a challenge.  I'd like to have 5 to 7 paintings listed at any given time.  To accomplish that I need to paint 5 to 7 paintings a week (assuming 7 day listings and that all paintings sell - not happening, but worth planning for!).  And that's been tough.  But lots of fun!
For the fox, I didn't have my order of Holbein Acryla gouache yet, so it's all Liquitex soft body acrylic. 

For the squirrels I used a combinatiion of the two kinds of paint, with the gouache mostly in the flowers.  It's quite opaque - as advertised - and very handy for the light hairs on the squirrels.  It's such a luxury to finally have an opaque white that flows nicely off the brush.
I actually painted the fawn and rabbit before the squirrels and was quite tentative with the gouache - it's only in the darker tree trunks, the darkest foliage, and the flowers.

As time progresses, my understanding of how these two paints work together will grow and I think I'll find them to be a winning combination.

I still really like working with transparent paints as I find it easier to get a range of colors with successive transparent overlays.  But there are times when those opaques come in so handy.  It's always, at least to me, a pain to preserve the whites, but especially so when working this small (these paintings are 2 1/2" by 3 1/2").

By the way, I used Strathmore series 400 Mixed Media paper for all three of these paintings and it's very smooth to paint on.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Grape Seller

At and since the art camp I've been doing my ACEOs without drawing them first on a separate piece of paper.  I wanted to practice my drawing.  But I think the ACEOs have sufferred a bit. 

So now I'm going back to doing the drawing separately, thinking that it will give me more accurate drawings.

Here's the start of the first one following that method.  Today I did the drawing, transfered it to the good paper, and did the initial work on the subject.  Tomorrow I'll work on the background then come back and finish the fox, grapes, and barrels.

I'm working with Liquitex soft body acrylics on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  Although I liked their Acrylic paper, I wanted to also try this one.  The jury's still out, but I may like it better.  The surface is smoother - vellum rather than canvas texture - and more absorbent.  The absorbency allows me to damped an area before I apply paint.  As long as I work quickly, I can then move the paint around a bit, like with watercolor.  On the Acrylic paper I couldn't move it at all.  But, of course, I'm using the acrylics very thinned with water.  I'm sure there would be working time on the Acrylic paper with a thicker application of paint.
By the way, despite taking time with the drawing, I see that I have the fox's nose too short and not sufficiently pointed!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Banner

Since I'm being serious about selling my ACEOs (tiny paintings) on eBay I thought I should make a banner for my listings.  I've named my Etsy shop "The Foxes' Garden' so, to kill two birds with one stone (a horrible phrase - I'll have to come up with something else that conveys the same meaning) this is the banner I made.
I began by painting the left half.  Then I photographed it and worked with the FireWorks program to get the correct size for half the banner.  From there I could reverse it for the right side then add the text.  The text is called "Edwardian Script ITC."  Isn't it pretty?
Resizing it for Etsy, which requires 760x100 pixels, didn't work out quite as nice as this one which isn't quite that long and narrow.  Still, I think it's a good idea to have nearly identical banners on both sites.
I quite like the largest fox and may do something more with just that piece.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The First of the Dramatis Personae

I'm beginning a new venture.  Actually, it's something I've done twice in the past but this time I'm in it for the long run and will be taking it seriously.  I'm selling my ACEOs on eBay.  I'm always so reluctant to part with what I make, but it's time to just deal with that problem and get on with it.  After all, I paint many more things than I can enjoy myself, and I'd like to raise money to donate to animal charities.

I began with the ones I did at the art camp last weekend.  So I had five listed.  One expired without selling and of the other four I have a bid on one.  So onward!

I spent much of yesterday developing a template for my eBay listings, one with (hopefully) a bit of class along with a dash of pizazz!
I'll be doing all kinds of animal subjects, but among them will be several using a "cast of characters" that I'm beginning to develop.  I have the first two of my rabbit family - young Buttercup and Clover.  Waiting in the wings (of my imagination) are Daisy their sister, and Wild Rose, their mom.  Many adventures await them in the meadows and woodlands.  Can't wait!
Unlike the ones I did at the art camp, these two are acrylic on Strathmore acrylic paper which has a nice canvas texture.  I was pleased with how well the paint goes on this paper, and surprised at how much detail I could get (keep in mind that these paintings are 2 1/2" x 3 1/2").  I enjoy using soft-body acrylics transparently and getting something of a watercolor effect. (Ironically, watercolor itself truly drives me crazy!)  The only problem with these is that a bit difficult to photograph with the canvas texture.