Monday, August 25, 2014

Flesh Tone Mixing Basics


You can buy a tube of flesh, but it will never, ever match anyone. You can use it as a basic pigment, and then modify it. Or you can make your own basic mix.


Your Pallet.


White. Always start with white, even for black skin. Titanium is a highly reflective paint. Most artist have this already on hand. Portrait artists have traditional used flake white, which is a bit warmer, more yellow white. Zinc white is more transparent and mixes well. This can be a plus when mixing with other pigments. Any white you are familiar and comfortable with can be used. You might want to try some new white.


Red. Any red will do. Red, although considered a warm color comes in many hues, some warmer than others. While the cadmium reds are quite warm, alizarin crimson is regarded as a rather cool red. If you choose alizarin crimson make sure you get a permanent hue. Alizarin crimson has had some permanency issues. Most modern, quality paints has solved this, but look at the light fastness rating on anything you buy.


Yellow. Again, yellows do come in warm/cool version, like lemon yellow and yellow ochre. You can use either, but it will effect the final mix. Experiment and become familiar with each of your yellows. I personally feel yellow ochre can ad a richness to several skin types that make it worth having in your pallet box.


Green. Yes green. All skin types, colors, shades have a touch of green in them. All, no exceptions. I learned this right out of high school when I worked for a photo finisher. Their expert retoucher taught me how to work on portraits. In those days (back at the end of the last ice age) when we retouched a photograph, we literally did it, with pigmented inks. She always “closed” an area she had retouched with green. She was both a skilled craftsman and an artist. Without the green the tone is never right. Years later this was confirmed by a very skilled and gifted portrait artist who only works in watercolor and always lays down a layer of green before any other pigment for faces.



On Your Pallet.


Always arrange your pallet the same way. I start left to right with my warm colors then cooler.


White is in the upper left, below will be yellow, red next to the white, then in this case orange, lastly  green and blue.


Take a medium amount of white, about 2 nerdles ( a nerdle is the amount you would put on your toothbrush)


Always mix color into white, not white into the other colors. Taking the tip of your pallet knife move a small amount of white to an area to be mixed. With the tip of your pallet knife mix a med to light pink, this will depend on who you are painting, but start light! It is very easy to go dark, not so easy to go light. Mix with the back of the knife until well blended. Use another knife to scrap off the back of the first knife. This is your starting point.




When you have this mixed, blend in a small amount of yellow. You will begin to see a light peach beginning to develop. If you need to go darker add just a tip of red, then yellow to blend out a darker peach.

To tone this down. Dip just the tip of your pallet knife in the green and blend, blend, blend.


This should be your basic skin tone.


This is even true for black skin.


You want the basic tone to be a mid tone of your subject.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Portrait

Wednesday Drawing Classes are starting oil painting portraits. Yes, painting in oils. First up is to select a large, 8x10 photo to use as a reference. Then make several black & White copies. Cheap, copier copies that can be drawn on.


So, how do you go about this? There are about as many different approaches to portraiture as there are artists. No one is “correct”. The right approach is the one that gives you the results you want. Since these portraits are for my drawing class, a beginner class with the emphasis on realism, we are taking a classic, academic approach and will use the skills learned already in drawing realistically. 


Having gone over the basic materials needed, we will beginning by blocking in the basic shapes. There are a lot of ways to transfer the image to the canvas, but for this we are going to do a rough block in with oil paints thinned to ink like consistency and doing a basic block in.


Using the black & white copy, we will use straight lines to define the general, gross shape of the image. Also, we will play around with placement. This can be done with simple cut outs. Once we know where we want the image, we can start by fining a starting point on the reference copy, and a corresponding reference point on the canvas. All other measurements will work from this point.


For this first project, we will attempt to draw/block in the head the same size as the photo reference. This will make later comparisons to the reference easier.


The first block in is a rough block in, for placement and overall size. We will locate the major features, the angle of the head, location and angle of the eyes, nose, mouth, and if visible the ears. 
Because of the demands of teaching this class, I will be working on more than one painting at time. Hope I can keep them up!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Murals - Point Pleasant Flood Walls


I love public art. I think more funding should be allotted for it. Public art enhances a community is a way that really lifts it up.


Not just that community, but all the communities that surround it. It creates a unifying positive atmosphere so  desperately needed today.


Went with friends to the river front town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia to enjoy the murals now painted on the flood walls built to protect the city in times the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers overflowed their banks. Point Pleasant has embraced its riverfront, making it both a protection and a really pleasant place to enjoy a summer afternoon. The murals are well done. Illustrate the area history, from both the native American perspective and the settler’s points of views, and are just for themselves beautiful works of art.
An afternoon enjoying the artwork and the park is time well spent. It is time we can recharge our batteries. Taking time to enjoy these public displays lets us realize just how good our lives really art. How much we have. What a rich heritage everyone has in common.

Today reminded me just how important public art can be to an area. Even art that is controversial, is important. I remember when the Chicago Picasso was first installed. What an uproar! but now it is an iconic symbol of that city.

Check the history books, and read the first reactions to the Statue of Liberty. Although many thought it horrible, can you imagine New York without it? Years ago we made a trip to New York and one of the things we had to do is take the ferry out to Liberty Island to see this iconic statue.

I am not discounting the many war memorials and statues. These are our history. Simply knowing why that person or this event was considered important enough to be remembered is important. But don't forget the items of pure art. The installations of fabric or large metal flowers. The statues that people look at and scratch their heads. These also are part of our heritage.

What piece of public art do you remember and think is important?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Painting and Power Tools




This year, for our 44th anniversary,  Hubby gave me a cordless screw driver. How romantic! Yes, for me it was a very exciting tool and addition to my tool box. You see, I am an artist. Artists use tools. Every medium has its own special tools. Brushes, rags, pallet knives, sculpting awls.


This is not the first power tool he has lovingly given me, but it is one that has me very excited. 


Drawing and painting requires framing. This can be very expensive. So like most artists I endeavor to do a lot of my own matting, framing and mounting of my works of art.


I am not handy. I have trouble holding a screw and a screw driving and co-coordinating putting the screw into the frame.


So Hubby bought me a screw driver, He also got me a set of small bits to drill a staring hole. Hurray! Now I can not only put eye bolts in canvases but I can put on offset clips, and other hangers easily.


Taking the whole kit to class, I was able to demonstrate how to use offset clips to frame a canvas and attach hanging hardware. It was a good demonstration. Class learned a lot. Then we went back to creating art. Drawing. Using pencils, ink, erasers. …..Colored pencils. Mineral spirits, brushes, blending….stumps, hummmmm the screw driver is just sitting there. Tortillions. I wonder……..



It works.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board, or Rather Class

Had a fantastic week in drawing class.
Everyone made good progress at creating their own art.
Betty, who struggled with the idea of negative space last week, got it. She did not know it, of course. That is the way it happens. The week before, I had her doing a negative space exercise which really threw her. It usually does when you try to do this. This is normal! We have a short stool at the Renaissance Art gallery, just the right size to put on the table and drive drawing students crazy. Now driving them crazy is not the aim of this exercise, just one of the added bonuses! The aim is to get the student to notice the spaces in a work of art. These can be just as important as the objects and effects the overall success of any piece. But to deliberately work in negative space will make the best student go cross-eyed!
Betty, like most students got very frustrated! Normal. But it is vitally important that the beginning student becomes aware of this. Many of us stumbled on this ourselves but it is much easier to master if you have someone to clue you in. Betty did the exercise, and did rather well, although she did not think so herself. We are not always the best judges of our own progress.

Well, this week we worked on drawing accurately and judging distances. Most people tend to think of judging distances only with distant objects, like cows in a field. But judging distances also means within an object from your point of view. Such as the distances between legs, uprights and braces in say, The stool sitting a few feet away on the floor of your drawing studio.
accurate drawings require accurate observations
Well Betty undertook to draw that *&^** stool again. This time she was trying to draw the stool, not the spaces around it. Did rather well, but suddenly, she said. "Ah! I am drawing those spaces!" This is how she was getting the placement of the legs, rungs, braces etc. correctly, using the size and shape of the negative spaces to double check herself! Erecka! Breakthrough!
Mary Anne is working on a portrait of her grandson. One of the consequences of doing a successful portrait of one of your grandchildren is that you must do them all! These portraits are being done in colored pencil. Colored pencil takes time and commitment. (some say doing any art in color pencils means you should be committed!)
Mary Anne conquers solvents
Getting a really saturated portrait mean a lot of hard work. Keeping the details from smearing calls for a delicate hand. And using solvents to blend the many layers necessary for a really good, saturated colored pencil painting takes nerves of steel. So this week I helped Mary Anne in working with colored pencil and solvent.
Word of caution to those of you working in colored pencil. Don't buy the cheap stuff! Only use mineral spirits/paint thinner you get from a quality art supply house. Do not use stuff from the hardware store. It is false economy. And use a light hand. We use rather cheap acrylic fine paint brushes for this. The solvents are hard on the brushes and destroy brushes. Watercolor brushes are too soft for this. You want something that is a little stiffer. Mary Anne also learned to use a larger stump to blend her background.
Speaking of backgrounds. These should not simply be afterthoughts. While you do not want a lot of detail, this does not mean you should not give them a lot of attention. In many ways the background can set the overall tone of the painting. If dark and moody, or with a lot of clutter, etc. your overall impression of the painting is set by the background. Think about it. A lot!
Julia's colored pencil painting
One person who has gotten the hang of fully saturated colored pencil is Julia. She worked a scene form how to train your dragon 2. She found out just how much work a good background takes. Julia work hours on this painting.

 Julia has moved on to working on her original story, in her case a fairy tale, complete with pen & ink illustrations.

Other students are working on their own original graphic novels. Interesting story lines. They are at the creating characters stage. working out just who these people are  and the universe in which they live.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting Ready to be a Guest Artist

Big news.

I have been invited to be the guest artist at Main Street Art Studio in Hurricane, WV for August. The opening "Art Moves" will be July 26, 2014.
Boat at Kanawha Falls

Once a month, Main Street Art Studio has an open house with music by a live band and refreshments. People can come in and simply enjoy themselves.

Hurricane, WV is a delightful small town and the main street has many unique family type businesses. See their website

It should be fun. Getting together with fellow artists and talking about what we are doing and enjoying an evening of music with friends.

Cathedral Falls
Ink Wash
I am going to show my recent artwork along with a few older painting I have not shown in years. Most of it will have a tie to West Virginia scenery.

I am including my recent works in colored pencil. I worked very long and hard to perfect these paintings Each represents about a months worth of work. They are also representative of the way things are going with colored pencil.

I have not decided if I am going to display any nudes. That really will be up to them. I kind of want to, as they are done in tinted charcoal, which in itself is unique.

But the display space is limited and I will need to cull the selections simply to keep the display interesting.

Art Moves is July 26, 2014 from 6-8 pm at Main Street Art Studio in Hurricane, WV.

Anyone in the area is invited to stop by.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Working on Art Projects

Everyone was working on their own projects this week in the Wednesday art classes at the Renaissance Art Gallery.

Negative Space

Working on proper placement of objects in a drawing, understanding negative space and trying new media.

Working on negative space, drawing the spaces between.

Placement can be a challenge, but if you don't have objects in the right places on the paper, no amount of detail will help. Learning to visually measure and line them up, as well as draw that in the correct size in relationship to each other takes practice. Sometimes drawing the negative space between objects can help you understand this.

Dip Pen & Ink

Adding character with a dip pen.
Using a dip pen for pen & ink drawings seems to becoming a lost art quickly. Few art supply/craft stores are still stocking these pens. While the pre-filled technical ink pens are wonderful, with their full range of sizes, the fluid and graceful transition between thin, thick lines you can get by mastering a dip pen can ad real beauty to artwork. They even feel different on paper.


Portraiture and Colored Pencil

Blending, blending and more blending
Mastering portraiture in colored pencil takes commitment and patience. The most beautiful come from manipulating layers of pencil. For this you need a strong enough support, but also the commitment to the time and effort it will take to blending and smoothing layers of pigment.  Getting the right texture of hair, face and fabric calls for differing techniques in blending.

Drawing Trees

Working on the details of the "knees"
Drawing a botanical drawing of large trees is a complicated undertaking. Cypress trees, growing I southern swamps have amazing adaptations. From breathing "knees" needle-like leaves and large luminous seed pods. Getting the varied textures and colorations right takes hours of effort.

Matt board is strong enough for this work, as well as added good texture or tooth to hold the multiple layers of colored pencil. It can be cut large enough for a work of this scope. Being ridged, it does stand up to the abuse of colored pencil, blending, burnishing and polishing that really good color pencil paintings requires. 



Simply drawing

Of course simply using a pencil is still a basic drawing tool. Even a number 2 standard pencil can give a wide range of value to a sketchbook drawing.

Working from life or your own photographs is rewarding.