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Surf Dance

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Surf Dance (5 x 7) $30.00

Surf Dance (5 x 7) $30.00

This is another little painting of the two brothers playing in the surf. They had found a log about half again as tall as either of them and were busy trying to return it to the sea. But as the tide was coming in, the sea kept giving it back. Here they have just finished taking it far so into the surf that they thought they had gotten rid of it. The victory dance was short lived. It came back. I don’t think they really minded though. They were having fun.

I used the same palette and method as the last little painting. First I masked the white foam and the boys. Then I painted the water and sand, beginning wet into wet and adding the details wet on dry. I painted the sand in with yellow ocher and burnt sienna right up to the first foam. I laid the thin layer of water reflecting the sky with blue cerulean right over the sand. I added the reflections last. When all was dry I removed the mask and painted in the boys and softened the foam.

Removable liquid masking is the easiest way to preserve small areas of white paper. I use Shiva Liquid Masque, but Winsor & Newton make a perfectly good mask too. The advantage to Shiva for me is that it’s slightly pink, making it easier for me to see where I’ve masked. Winsor & Newton is slightly yellow which I find harder to see against white paper.

Mask should be applied to bone dry paper. Use a synthetic brush well rubbed in hand soap to apply the mask. Resoap the brush regularly and wash it with soap afterwords. Don’t use water that has been used for masking when painting. Don’t remove the mask until the paint is bone dry. A rubber cement pick-up works best.

This painting is currently available on-line through my Etsy shop.

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Winter Sun or Hat With Girl

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Winter Sun I (9 x 12) $75

Winter Sun I (9 x 12) $75

Arne Westerman has a little chapter in his book, How to Become a Famous Artist Through Pain and Suffering, in which an artist complains to his psychiatrist that he just can’t do lost edges because he has a compulsion to paint in the lines. I can relate. I have a hard time painting loose and yet the paintings I most admire are often painted that way.

This painting was an exercise in staying loose. I had to throw away two tighter versions to get it. But I’m glad I kept at it. And yes is does have a lost edge or two.

The palette is my trusty favorite four, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, cobalt blue and phthalo blue. It’s a good palette for painting loose. The burnt sienna and the blues flow together in the most interesting and unexpected ways. I washed just a hair of quinacridone deep red rose into her lips.

But however much I may like the painting, my eleven year old daughter, does not. As she complains, you can’t even see my eyes. And you can’t But if she will wear oversize hats, what else can she expect?


Or purchase a print at Fine Art America.com.

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Cello Practice III

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Cello Practice III (11 x 13) $100

Cello Practice III (11 x 13) $100

This is my niece playing cello. I took the photo a couple of summers ago at my brother’s house. I just love her long limbs and fingers. Playing the cello shows off those elegant fingers like nothing else. I’ve heard her complain that she hates to see how she was holding her hands on the cello even a few months ago because her positioning is improving. I can’t tell good positioning from bad, but I like the way her hands look. I hope she’ll forgive me for immortalizing her two year old cello technique.

I had intended this painting to be looser, more painterly, and less illustrative than it turned out. That seems to be a painting at the gallery problem. Given an audience I tend to tighten up and draw with the brush. The First Quilt is another tight painting resulting from painting at the gallery. I need to pick my gallery subjects carefully.

But, it’s not a bad little painting. It’s just not what I intended. I do like the way her face and limbs pop out against dark background. I will probably try a much freer version this afternoon.

I used cadmium yellow and quinacridone deep red rose as a foundation for her skin. Other than that I stuck to a three paint palette of burnt sienna, phthalo blue and cobalt blue. I didn’t include a yellow at all. I like the color scheme and will probably keep it in the next version.

I created her appearing and disappearing necklace by first masking it and then removing the mask when the shirt was about half finished. I like the effect.


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Pigment Geekiness or Palette Ramblings

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Choosing paint can be a daunting task for a beginner.

Not all pigments are created equal. Some stain and some lift. Some overpower every mix they are in, and some must be added in quantity to make any change at all. Some are textured and some go on smooth. Some transparent watercolors really are transparent and some are rather less so.

Nor are all paints created equal. Knowing what pigments are in what paint is vital. Some, the good ones, are just one pigment. Some are mixes. Some are mixes of lower quality pigments. And brand matters. Cobalt blue even if it is the very same pigment behaves differently depending upon the manufacturer and the grade of paint.

The name of the color does not necessarily answer any of these questions.

Fortunately some of this information is standardized. The Society of Dyers and Colorists and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists have indexed the pigments. The index number is found on almost every quality paint tube. Cadmium yellow, for example is not one but one of two possible pigments PY35 and PY37. PY35 is a little greener. Some paints also include the American Society for Testing and Materials lightfastness rating. One is good and five poor.

But for the beginner, too much of this kind of information is simply overwhelming. It overwhelmed me. So I cribbed. A little over a year ago when I first started painting, I entered the art store with a list of paint colors drawn from the basic palettes of two or three artists who’s how to paint books I admired.

After my heart recovered from cost of buying all that paint at once ($295.99 or so), I made a chart of all of my brand new paints. First I painted each color across the page horizontally. When the page dried, I painted a vertical stripe of each color down the page. It looked like a multi-colored loosely woven basket. The idea was to show the colors and all of the mixing possibilities. I never looked at it again. And I have no idea where it is.

Then at direction of Butch Krieger, Watercolor Basics: People, I made a tonal value chart of flesh tones in paint. It was a lovely chart and I learned a lot about mixing flesh tones making it. I never looked it again either. It’s probably with the color chart.

Colored paint remained a mystery.

Sometime after that, I bought a copy of Blue and Yellow Don’t make Green, by Michael Wilcox. The book consists almost entirely of color swatches from a dozen basic colors. His basic colors are cadmium red light (PR108), quinacridone violet (PV19), cadmium yellow light (PY35), Hansa Yellow Light (PY3), cerulean blue (PB36:1), and ultramarine blue (PB29). To these he adds yellow ochre (PY43), raw sienna (PBr7), burnt sienna (PBr7), Phtalocyannie Blue (PB15), and Phthalocyanne Green (PG36). It’s a good list and I almost wish I had started with it, but I did learn somethings from my broader first palette and I still used many of the colors in it including one that Wilcox specifically warns against, Alizarin Crimson (PR83). (Alizarin crimson is subject to fading.)

And Wilcox did teach me a great deal about mixing paint. After reading Wilcox, I didn’t need a chart. I had a much better idea of how to mix colors although I didn’t do any of his color mixing exercises.

But mostly I learned about color by using very restricted one to three color palettes. Using only a few colors at a time I learned something about those colors. I add new colors to my basic palette slowly. Anyone who actually reads my pigment notes can’t help but notice that cobalt blue, french ultramarine, phthalo blue, burnt sienna, raw sienna and yellow ochre are my favorites. I think I have the blues and yellows sorted out. In addition to the above colors I use cadmium yellow and hansa yellow light. I still haven’t settled on the reds, but I’m leaning towards the quinacrones for the violet reds and windser for the orange reds.

In the meantime, my new paint bible is Hilary Page’s Guide to Watercolor Paints. Page tested all of the artist quality paints of all of the major manufacturer’s for light fastness. But that’s just the beginning. Her paint swatches show the value range, lifting capacity, transparency, and the wet into wet spreading pattern of each paint.

The swatches are conveniently divided into chapters by color and color temperature. Each chapter includes general notes on the pigments’ painting and mixes characteristics and toxicity.

She also includes: a color wheel of the pigments currently on the market; color curves for many pigments; and lists of staining, transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque, opaque, textural and two toned paints.

Truly a fantastic book, though perhaps only for real paint geeks. My only complaint was that it was last published in 1997. But as I’ve since discovered that she published a web update in 2000, I have no complaints at all. Hilary Page.com

She is my guide whenever I am tempted my a new color of paint. Dioxazine purple is my latest find. It’s beautifully transparent and there is no good mixed substitute. She gives it the thumbs up.

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Highway Cathedral I: Or Fun With Granulation

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Highway Cathedral I (9 x 11) $50

Highway Cathedral I (9 x 11) $50

I doubt it’s original of me, but I’ve always loved the shapes of bridges from below. From above the bridge connecting connecting Salem and West Salem is a dull and even ugly highway from which you can see only tantalizing glimpses of the Willamette River below. But from underneath it’s all about arches, windows, and water.

To get the feel of the concrete, I used mostly naturally granulating pigments: cerulean blue, French ultra marine blue, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. The only pigments without natural granulation I used were cobalt blue and phthalo blue which I used to the darken the shadows on the underside of the highway.

For the foreground I mixed burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue with granulation medium to accentuate the textural effect. Next time I may add ox gall to the water pigments to smooth them out for contrast.

This was a fun little painting. I’ll do a few more under the bridge paintings over the next few weeks.


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Sneakers II

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Paula and her sneakers again.

This time I panted her directly without pouring. I used a very limited palette: burnt sienna, cobalt blue and yellow ochre. I also washed her face with cadmium yellow and winsor red. There is tad of alizarin crimson on her lips and the shaded side of her face.

I prefer this painting but my husband prefers the poured version. I did a better job with her face here. But I agree with Stephen that the colors are livelier in the poured painting. It’s tempting to do a third version, but I think I”ll stop here.

Purchase a print of this painting at Fine Art America.com.

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