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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another ACEO

Another ACEO, and this time a rabbit.  Once again, I used the combination of colored pencil, solvent, ink, and white acrylic paint.  I am liking this combination more and more.

The hard Verithin pencils seem to work particularly well.  I just wish there were more of a color range.

For quite a while I've had the idea of self-publishing an art instruction book on Amazon and have been mentally casting about for a subject.  Now I think I may have one, which is this particular mixed media technique. 

So while I was working on this piece, I took pictures at every stage.  Unfortunatly, they didn't come out very well.  I'll need to set up a standard lighting situation to get the quality of picture I'd need for a book, so I'll have to work on that!  Meanwhile, I'm happy with this little rabbit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Hungry Chipmunk comes to the Studio

Figuratively, that is!  Chipmunks don't live in the immediate vicinity, but I remember them so well from my childhood in Ohio and I've seen them since around Lake Tahoe and in Wisconsin on a visit there.  They're such energetic, seemingly cheerful little creatures.

This is another ACEO that I'm going to list on eBay.  I intended to create it as a purely graphite piece.  But that idea was probably doomed the moment I transferred the drawing to the Stonehenge drawing paper because I chose a fawn color.  Of course that limited the value range I would be able to achieve with just graphite.  So after I went as far as I could with graphite, I decided to add white colored pencil. By that time I was on the "slippery slope" and I just couldn't resist touches of color.  But I kept the color at a minimum and I think the finished piece has the look of a tinted drawing.  I used an 005 Sakura black micron pen to deepen some of the black hairs.

I used solvent (Gamblin gamsol) at various stages, and was pleased to find that it didn't disturb the graphite - I had fears that solvent might dissolve and blur the graphite like water would, but it was fine.

Here's the explanation for the white spots you see along the very bottom edge.  I used the beautiful deckle edge of the Stonehenge paper for the lower edge of the ACEO.  When I was done with the drawing, I trimmed it to size then glued it to another piece of Stonehenge (white, this time) to make it thicker.  I like them to be a little thicker both because they feel more substantial and also because they are then thick enough to coat the edges with gold acrylic which gives a nice finished look.  White may not have been my best choice, but I like the idea of using the deckle edge and showing it off.  I'll have to think more about how to achieve that.  Perhaps it would have been good to paint the bottom edge of the white paper with copper acrylic so there would be copper spots instead of white ones.  And then I could have painted the edges copper as well.  Food for thought.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fooling Around with Oils

Ever since I became aware of the colorful birds known as bee eaters I have been fascinated by the gorgeous colors and charmed by their cute little shapes. 

I wanted to try real oils - as opposed to the fast-drying alkyds - and decided on a bee eater in a small format.  This painting is 7"x7" and it's on a piece of 1/2" thick MDF which I prepared with three coats of white gesso.

Because I knew that oils have long drying times and I didn't want to be working on this painting forever, I decided to paint an undercoat of acrylics.  I just used the bottled decorative paints because there is such a wide selection of colors.  The main purpose of my first coat was simply to get the design down and the main colors blocked in.

I wanted an iridescent background to complement the jewel tones in the bird and chose an iridescent blue Daniel Smith acrylic.  The paint was so transparent that I needed four coats to get a satisfactorily even look.  I decided to go over it with my iridescent blue oil paint just to try it out.  It was equally transparent.

Then it was on to the leaves, branch, fruits, and, finally, the bird.  I had a lot of trouble managing the transparency and opacity of the various colors and it seemed that these qualities mattered more than in either alkyds or acrylics than in oils, perhaps simply because either of those media allow re-coating so much more quickly.

Once I started with the oils, it took four painting sessions to finish this piece.  The last one was to add an Ultramarine Blue graduated glaze around the edges.  I painted the sides with black acrylic so the piece can hang without a frame.  In a few days I'll add a coat of retouch varnish then wait a few months to add the final varnish coat.

I like the luminosity of the oils, but found the pace at which I was able to work painfully slow.  Nonetheless, I will continue working some of the time in oils to develop my skills.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back to ACEOs for Fun and Profit

Back in 2007 I was creating ACEOs and selling them on ebay.  The effort was somewhat successful, and I've decided to try again.  I began by listing a few ACEOs I had left from last time, and also creating a few more by cutting down larger paintings.

Then I began creating new ones.  I find that I can do one within a few hours, and am really enjoying it.  It's a way to work with different media and get lots of practice without launching into a big project.
So far, I've worked with watercolor pencil, watercolor, ink, and colored pencil.  This one is colored pencil with solvent and details of ink.  I'm using a size 005 micron pen, and sure wish I could get them in a nice brown.  I have a Pitt sepia extra fine pen, but it's just not quite fine enough to work in this size.  I've considered buying a Kohinoor pen, but it's such a hassle to keep them clean and flowing that it will be a last resort for me.

This cat's wild ear tufts made me think of Einstein, so I drew him with the scientist's famous equation on a "black board" in the background.  As I look at it now I see that the dark areas at the side of the nose are quite different from each other.  I wish I had seen that earlier, but I think it isn't that big a problem.

By the way, here's how I'm finishing the ACEOs.  I bond them to a backing of Coventry Rag drawing paper by trimming thefinished ACEO painting to size, spraying the back with glue, pressing it onto a scrap piece of Coventry Rag, then trimming away those edges when the glue is set.  Then I "gild" the edges with nice gold acrylic paint for a finished look.  Maybe I'll try using some nice scrap-booking card stock for fun.  But it will have to be fairly light as I add my signature, date, the title, and copyright info on the back.

So far, I've sold a few.  My plan is to simply keep listing them and hope that business will pick up over time.  I'll be paying attention to which subjects seem to sell and will also try to crack the mystery of auction-style versus buy-it-now listings.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All for Nought. Grrrrrr.

When I got onto the Bead and Button website to enter the competition I was so disappointed to find that I had mis-read the deadline date and had, in fact, missed it!  Instead of  "April 5" I read "April 15!"

I'll have to enter this piece elsewhere - Fire Mountain Gems and the PAA Mother Lode Show.  And perhaps some other opportunity will present itself.

Finished! Now for a Name...

I finished the necklace this afternoon, and I'm happy with it.  If only I could have logged on to Google I would have found the instructions for entering the Bead Dreams competition, and the application would be done. was not to be.  I don't know why, but I frequently have trouble connecting with Google.  Perhaps their servers get over-loaded.

At the back of the necklace, I intended to attach the drops to the other side.  It would have been better balanced that way, but no big deal.

As a last thought, I added the fruit headdresses, and it seems to give the piece a Polynesian feel, which I am using as a clue to guide me to a name.  "Tahitian Holiday" is a possibility, but I'm still searching.  "Monkey Princess?"  "Paradisio?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monkey Bits Coming Together

 The center part of the necklace will be made up of three separate pieces as you see here - two with monkies and the one in the middle with just large flowers.  The ends of each of the side sections have a flower coming from the center of the bead and so the center portions will be connected this way.

But the question is exactly how the pieces at the center will string together.  At this point the backs of these three motifs are not finished.  I did that on purpose so that I could make some design and construction decisions, then finish the backs with whatever I need to string everything together.  This is turning out to be a somewhat complicated piece structurally.

The little round things scattered about are tiny fruits which I'll attach in clusters.  Again, the question is how?

I may decide to have some long strands coming from the center, and so that will be a construction question as well.

The final one is the clasp.  I was originally thinking that I would need some extra beads on the ends on each side and, in my mind's eye, I saw them as gold triangular cones with the three gold leaves on the open end, and fitting together - perhaps two or three on each side.  Then the clasp would lie between, perhaps a gold button and beaded loop.

So there's still plenty to do, but it's coming together pretty well so far.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Monkey Bits

I had been ambivalent about entering the Bead Dreams Competitiion this year.

I was fortunate to be a finalist in both 2008 and 2010.  In 2008, Kalmbach did a beautiful special section on the finalist pieces in their October issue of Bead and Button magazine.  But in 2010 there was nothing - not even a certificate - and it irritated me.  Being a finalist was quite an honor, especially in 2010 where there were only 5 finalists in each category as opposed to 10 in 2008.  Being a finalist in this competition is a big deal to artists and I think they should shown more appreciatiion to the artists.

So I was a little soured on the whole thing.  Plus, I had a lot of work to do on the Society of Animal Artist applications and both had the same due date of April 15.  A piece for Bead Dreams went on the back burner.

But now that the application paintings are done I find that there's time for Bead Dreams after all.  I've known for quite some time that I wanted to make a piece with monkeys, and also that I wanted to do something that required a little engineering.

Anyway, here are some of the pieces.  The necklace part will be a series of gold pieces with green leaves that nest together.  The rest will be an assemblage of many parts, most of which are in the picture.  But I may need to make more, depending on how things shape up.  As usual, I'm not doing much planning ahead of time - just letting the piece take shape.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nearing the Finish Line

I am now nearing the finish line on this my fifth and fnal painting for the Society of Animal Artists application.  It's been a long slog and there were plenty of times I had big doubts about this one, primarily thinking I had bit off more than I could chew with all those leaves.  But at this point I'm pretty happy about it.

Today I darkened the spaces in the background and glazed over some of the leaves to hopefully create more depth in the foliage.  I used dark green as well as maroon and dark brown as complements darken.  It also seemed important to add some foliage in the foreground and I wish I had thought of this in the beginning because at this point the pastel was pretty thick and my new additions didn't cover as well as I wish they had.  So here's a lesson hopefully learned - be sure there is a foreground, middle ground, and background and if there isn't have a good reason for it.

One plus about the foreground foliage is that it partially hides the tails and I was thinking that the curve in the right monkey's tail was a bit awkward.  It would have been hard to change that - so just cover it up!

Shelley suggested that I need more modelling in the monkies, so I did that, mostly with glazes.  And I added white hairs with a sharp Nupastel.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to deepen the pigment on the foreground leaves, including strengthening the value contrast in that area.