Monday, March 30, 2015

Pelican Encounter-Final

Well, after 10 days and many, many hours and many, many layers, it is done. I started this on March 11 and today is the first day of spring, March 21. But it takes as long as it takes. I am still not totally sure I am done.

Turned out pretty good, even Hubby, (surprise!) said so.

Now, the Verdict on the Colourfix.

I like it.

Pelican at Juno Beach
Susan Tschantz
c. 2015

It does have a lot of tooth, and you will find it eats the pencils. This is understandable, as it is designed for heavy use with charcoals and pastels. I suspect it leans heavily towards soft pastels.

I did enjoy finding a board that was already tinted and already had the marble dust(?) (I am not sure what they use for the tooth. I have used marble dust and gesso with acrylic paint to tint myself).

So in addition to the cost of the board, you will use your pencils rather quickly and will sharpen a lot! Really a lot!

I only have the final burnishing to do. I did use a stump to blend, which proved really useful. I did not find the use of a medium, like mineral spirits as useful on this board as on some surfaces. Wax bloom was not as evident either. and I might revisit the feet tomorrow when it has had time to set up a little.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pelican Update

Spent an enjoyable half hour working on small details and blending the colored pencil on the Pelican painting.

It is starting to look like a pelican!

Unlike with liquid paint, when using colored pencils you must manually blend your pigments on the support. One reason a good strong support is necessary, and why standard drawing paper simply is not heavy enough for colored pencil.

Day three of the Pelican Project.
Working on the Colourfix is proving to be a mixed blessing. While the support is plenty strong enough for colored pencil, getting used to the strong tooth is a new experience. Not a bad one, just new.

Strangely, a tortillons work better than the harder stumps. Go figure? Maybe because the tortillon is softer than the stumps, better able to work on the sandy surface.

Getting that tint of salmon coloring over the white took some thought. Finally I did use a soft application of Terricota and Indian Red, both colors smear well when covered with a layer of the Prisma White. I find that the soft Prismacolor white blends and aids bleeding best. It is exactly what I needed in this instance.

I also used a rough, cheap bristle brush with a small amount of mineral spirits. After dipping the brush in mineral spirits, I wiped it off with a paper towel, so it was more of a dry brush effect.  This helped to simply tint the belly feathers, rather than color them with lines.

I am finished for the day, letting the painting dry completely before adding any more layers.

I have found that I need different techniques with this surface. The sandy tooth grabs the pigment more than I had been used to, so you do not need to work as hard to put down layers of pigment.

I also have not had any problems with wax bloom so far, which I do with the mat board I customarily use in my work. Doing the final polish on mat board takes time. We will see if it becomes a problem with this board. So far, not.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pelican Encounter

Spent a relaxing 10 days snowed-in in Florida this winter. Another story.  

It was fabulous. While our home was pummeled with ice, rain, wind and snow we relaxed by a pool and took walks by the ocean.


Which leads to my new project, a striking portrait of Mr. Pelican. Actually, I have no idea of the sex. It might well be Ms. Pelican for all I know. I do know this bird-person took no guff from anyone. Stood its ground and proclaimed its independence.   

So Mr. or Ms. as the case may be, will become my next art project. 

My preference for tinted paper has lead me to explore many supports, and today I am trying a new one.  

Start of the drawing,
Image transferred and first layers of white and black
Colourfix Plein Air Painting Board made by Art Spectrum in Australia. I choose the blue haze tint, because it closely matches the sky in my reference photo. It is a heavily textured board, feeling like fine sandpaper. I have noticed already that it has a tendency to be smeary, which makes sense as it is designed for dry media like pastels and charcoal. Having the ability to smear and blend are important for these media. How it will respond to colored pencil is another matter.  

The support I am using is the 12” x 16” size. Matted to 16 x 20 it should make a good presentation.


As usual with Colored Pencil I did my first drawing on tracing paper, making what adjustments and corrections I needed, then using graphite waxless transfer paper, I transferred my Pelican to the Colorfix board. I traced lightly so I had very faint lines. This is necessary because I could already tell erasing was not an option on this board. 

You can see the tint of the board here and how it will serve as the background.

As I said, this board has the texture of fine sandpaper, and it does have plenty of tooth to hold many layers of colored pencil, which is good because it will need it! 

This time I did not start with a layer of watercolor pencil or graphtint, or ink tense. I usually to this, especially if I am working on a dark support. But I decided to see how colored pencil will perform on this surface.
So here it is so far:




Friday, March 13, 2015

Drawing Company Coming!

Need to clean the house, expecting company,


Have to pick up and dust and clean the floor, mean to bake cookies, so I am welcoming.


Ok, oven is on. Dishwasher going..


Dirty clothes picked up. Oh yes, the guest bath. Need to check it! So far so good.


I have so much to do! Dust everywhere, dishes in the sink…


I got the table out and set up…..


Oh, no! colored pencils,


Must resist…..

            Must resist……………

really I must resist! I have 6 people coming! Got too much to do!



Colored pencils won!




Friday, December 26, 2014

Freezer, Pallets And Other Odd Things Around The Studio


We got a new small freezer for the basement. I love it! Compact and just enough room for two older people. Our large upright gave up the ghost years ago, and being empty nesters, we really no longer needed the big freezer anyway. Funny how not having a teenage boy in the house reduces the grocery bills!

Now you are wondering what is all this talk about a freezer doing in an art blog? Yes, its nice she has one, but why do I care?

One of the things I did miss about loosing the large freezer in the dungeon is the lost of pallet storage. Yes, pallet storage. Not on the top of the freezer but in it.


I paint with oils. Often in the past, I had little time to paint. (that full-time job really got in the way of my play time!) One of the best ways to preserve an oil pallet when you know you will be away from it for a while is to freeze it. Freezing does not harm good quality oil paints. This is really helpful if you need to be away from painting for a long period and you want to preserve that special mixed color. Put a sheet of wax paper over the pallet (or another sheet if you use disposable paper pallets) push the excess air out and pop it in the freezer. I used to reserve the top shelf of the large freezer for this.


Now that I am retired from secular work, I usually can get back to a canvas in a reasonable amount of time, and with big projects I have taken to using a pallet box with a sealable lid. I line it with either freezer paper or a disposable pallet sheet. This will keep the paint workable for a couple of days, which is usually all I need. If I paint on Tuesday night, I know I will not be able to get back to it before Friday. I will mound up any paint on the pallet, and seal the lid. (these boxes are also available for acrylics and have a large sheet sponge.)


Often, however, I use a Styrofoam tray for a pallet. The kind that you get from the meat department. When I come home from the store, I always repackage the meat. That plastic they wrap the meat in is not good for it or you. Then if the tray is a good size, I will wash it with soap and water and let it dry. It goes down into the dungeon to be re-used as a pallet. You can clean and re-use it several time. You cannot use it for gesso however. Gesso eats it. I use the Styrofoam trays as a cheap portable pallet. It saves money I can dearly use for other art supplies.


I will go cheap for the furnishing and accessories for the studio. I find garage sales and thrift stores a good source of furnishings. Whenever I buy things, I look at the packaging and think, can I reuse this? Most of my dungeon accoutrements are recycled packaging, garage sale fines or even things I dumpster dived for.  But not for real art supplies.


I don’t go cheap for what I use to create artwork on or with. Experience has taught me that this is false economy. I will not use low-grade paint, pencils or support. I don’t use hardware store mineral spirits. I have culled cheap brushes. Supports must be high quality. But for my pallet? I will recycle. For large paintings I often use a sheet of freezer paper taped to the craft table I got when a local school threw it out in favor of the new plastic tables. It is a heavy Formica covered table that nothing can hurt. I love it. It weights a ton, but I can do just about anything on it. I can tape down the sheet of freezer paper, and when I am done, simply scrub it off. Nothing sticks. Also, nothing hurts it.  I have a lazy-susan on this table that I put my mediums on. I can always find what I need. You know those plastic trays that they sell for holding utensils? They are touted for caring silverware out to picnic tables. I picked up several at garage sales ( I guess they really don’t work well for this, you see them all the time) well, great way to keep brushes sorted.


I used those tin boxes that breath mints come in for kneaded erasers. I am sure you all can think of tons of things to do with those little boxes.


One of the best ways to carry my long brushes is in one of those cardboard wine bottle tubes. they are sold to carry a bottle of wine as a hostess gift.  They are sturdy and have a nice handle. And they will hold your longest brushes.


So I am happy to have a freezer again in the dungeon. Someplace to stash that pallet between painting sessions.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Master Works?

Student Works


I, like many artist take great joy in the artwork I produce. And pride, but mostly joy. However, there is artwork I actually enjoy more than my own, that of my students.

Betty's granddaughter
Artist: Betty taking classes since July
First Painting ever!

I am constantly amazed by them. I throw out the challenge, and they constantly exceed my expectations of them.


Sometimes it seems as if my own greatest works are not the ones produced by my hands but the artists I have instructed and inspired to exceed their own expectations.
artist: Julia
 age 16

Monday, October 13, 2014

Beautiful Places


Beaches and mountains abound in beautiful places. That almost goes without saying. That is why we go there. But even when there are many, many beautiful places some stand out as extraordinary.


We went to Brookgreen Gardens along the coast of South Carolina.  Brookgreen Gardens


There we came to a really special place, their zoo. There Cypress Aviary is such a special place. It is the only known aviary built over an existing cypress swamp. You go in, and watch the birds simply enjoying being a beautiful bird. They nest and hunt in this swamp. And they are used to people. While they are still wild birds, they react slowing to people by simply walking or flying away.
If you sit quietly, they ignore you and go about their business. Spectacular shots and observations are possible. You can see them flying or wading, caring for their young and teaching them to fly. Often they will be curious about you, and come in for a rather close-up view of what you are doing.


The entire garden complex is a great place to fine a quite corner and bring out your sketchbook.