Saturday, February 26, 2011

NEW PROJECT: Studies based on old painters. Featuring Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

After revisiting Art renewal center , I decided to do a few oil studies using some of there high res images so I could test out my water-mixable oils with different solvents. I did this hoping to learn a few more techniques and just to get back to "painting what you see, not what you think you see." Painting from classical painting is a great way to learn so I've heard, and thus wanted to give it a shot.

I have a lot of work to go on this one. I realized after making this comparison shot, that the proportions are majorly off. I did fix some areas by my second sitting, but the paint was still wet. Not only are the colours off (the original is more pink, not blue), but the safflower oil I was using dulled the paint down considerably. It didnt help I was using the paint on a clear-primed linen canvas, with safflower oil (meant for paler colours)for glazing and laying in the underpainting, which went on much thinner the expected. What should have happened is that I should have done a flat colour (without any safflower oil) for the background, and then go in with the figure. Working this way, might have meant better colours earlier on. Also, this would have meant that the painting would be less shiny at this stage, as safflower oil goes on and drys a bit glossy. The shine makes it difficult to apply colour under certain lighting, which might have also contributed to the more blue vs pink tones.

>>>Next step: Glazing with some pink to get rid of the blue tones....magenta might work.

PROGRESS: Practice portrait of "Aria"

Still working on it. Fixed a few areas around the chin...made her look a bit thinner. Her face looks like its in proportion now!

NEW PROJECT: Painting on Ampersand Hardbord and Masonite...which is better (and the difference)?

So, being a fan of higher quality materials, I decided to tryout Ampersand Hardbord. Ampersand hardbord is an archival sort of Masonite (also known as hardboard, but to avoid confusion will be referred to as Masonite), which is supposed to be better then the cheaper hardboard's on the market. Masonite (according to ampersand) apparently an old brand name, with its common name being hardboard. Ampersand Hardbord is apparently formed in such a way, that it resists warping, can be framed without glass (the thinnest panels they sell) and can support both oil and acrylic grounds.

My first thought was that it looked a lot nicer then the good old Masonite I used in high-school, but never really thought past how long it would last, not that you really care about that when your 18! Even recently, after watching some tutorials by Donato Giancola, I didn't really think of its archival qualities, and he uses the stuff to do full illustrations on. He does however mount the image to the piece of Masonite hes working on, with matte medium, which probably acts as a barrier similar to the sizing ( a co-worker said that matte or gloss mediums can act as sizing agents as well). Apparently though, if painting on just a gesso'd surface on Masonite, the paint could disintegrate and change colour over time.

So, after going to the ampersand website, I learnt that to make their hardbords completely archival (there could still be issues if not properly treated). You first need to apply a sizing agent to the board to help prevent warping as well as seal the wood. I decided to do this to both the Ampersand Hardbord as well as regular old Masonite. Ampersand Hardboard is labeled H and Masonite is labelled M.

The site recommended using Golden Gac-100 or Gamblin pva size. So, I took the advice of the website and bought Golden Gac-100, and followed the directions on the site (add 2 coats, and leave to set for 1-3 days).I decided to go with the Golden Gac-100 mostly because I'm a fan of their mediums, and as I'm paying for archival boards, might as well as follow the directions to get the most out of them.

After the sizing, I did notice that there was some more warping on the regular Masonite board. I used to treat this by painting a giant X with Gesso (warping usually happened while gessoed side was drying) and it usually helped to reverse it.

I will say, I do like the colour of the Ampersand board more. The texture is also smoother. The back doesn't even have the rough, chip board texture of the regular Masonite boards. Generally, it just looks better. It also costs more then Masonite, but not as much as canvas. The major point, is that its archival, so long as you sized it and applied the ground right. Ampersand claims that the process which its produced is different from typical Masonite, to insure that it does stand the test of time.

After 3days of letting the sizing sink into the boards, I gessoed them with Liquitex Clear Gesso.
I started with one horizontal layer, and once dried, a second in random directions in order to create texture.I only did this to one board of each, and gessoed the others normally.

I did however, forget to water down the gesso for the first coat, as suggested by Ampersand. Oh seems to be sticking fine now. Hopefully it won't effect the outcome.


Painting on Masonite (acrylic), Ampersand Hardbord (acrylic) and Ampersand Gessobord (oils).

PROGRESS: Aria and "Finding of Moses"

Friday, February 25, 2011

To insure that I update on a regular basis (is kind of scatter-brained :p), I'll be posting a minimum of two posts a week, with updates happening every Monday and Friday.

Yay for new deadline!

That being said, tonight's post will still happen....just getting a few things laid out :)!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So, in the past week I've been working on a few different projects (including the one that will be the major content of the next blog post!) and figure I might as well lest them off.
I'll try to keep them listed to the side panel and labelled for easy browsing later!

The one of the projects consist of studys of old paintings in oils (on clear gesso'd linen) and the other some small paints (based on building photos from paris) on masonite (hardboard is the common name) and Ampersand Hardbord (archival hardboard).

The other projects will be listed, and I hope to have some pictures and such posted by friday evening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey some good news!

Starting today I will be posting my numerous experiments and trials (complete with results and reviews of materials) of projects I'm working on! In the last six months I've used so many different materials, and have learned so much about different mediums, that I really need to put down what I've come across!

For the first time in about 5 years, I've been working on multiple on going projects (not school related), and in different mediums. Each has its pros and cons, but with research, and some trial and error (and some fun along the way), I've discovered some pretty cool stuff.

I'm really exited to start sharing what I've come across, and hope that it might help someone in there own artist endeavors!

For the first project, I decided to do some small water-mixable oils on watercolour paper.
This was a practice round. I hadn't worked with oils in some time, and really wanted to paint again.

After much reading into oils a little more and reading more about the existing materials I already had already owned Demco Linseed oil and both Winsor Newton Artisan oils (water soluble) and Winsor Newton Alkyd oils (fast drying and soy-based). The last time I used Linseed oil in my apartment, it smelt for days, not to mention I got a pretty bad headache from the smell. At least I thought it was the linseed oil. After some reading, I found that the alkyd oils where actually the thing that caused it. Water-mixable seemed the way to go. Water-mixable oils are modified so that the paint molecules can stick to water, rather then repel it as regular oils do. They look, and move the same as regular oils , with solvent-less clean up. I hate solvents with a passion and always try to go the least toxic/flammable route.

I had used the Artisan oils before, and found the colours pretty dull unless you used oil. A teacher told me once that you can mix water-mixable oil paints with your regular oil paints, as well as regular linseed oil. After reading more into linseed oil, I was hesitant. Painting rags with linseed oil (both regular oil and the water-mixable linseed oil ) on them, if not properly deposed of can spontaneously combust. I had used it before, and DIDN'T KNOW THIS! So, I decided to go with walnut oil (as recommended by a health conscious co-worker) instead. Walnut oil is a vegetable oil that can be used instead of linseed oil, and even yellows less with time then its flammable counterpart. It can also be used to clean your brushes! A plus = it smells delicious >Although, watch out! It goes rancid fast when opened unless you put it in the fridge. If id does go rancid, it can still be just wont be pleasant.

Since I did decide to go with water-mixable oils, I thought I should stick to water-mixable mediums for easy clean up. A customer from my work, recommended safflower oil. Its also less toxic and smelly then linseed oil, and closer to walnut. Its supposed to be better with lighter colours.

After looking at the colours I had already in Artisan oils, I realized they were all pretty dark. Ok, so it was partly an excuse to try something new, but it was valid. I decided to go with COBRA water-mixable oils for magenta, cyan, Indian yellow, and burnt umber (later I also picked up some ivory black and titanium white). When something says artist quailty it usually means there is more pigment in the paint, and less filler. You can really see the difference when it comes to colour. Colours are duller in student quality paints, and much more vivid when it comes to artist quality.

Being curious I decided to see how much so. I decided to use both COBRA and ARTISAN paints by first just using water instead of oils. I like the result so far, but the non-COBRA colours are less vibrant!The brighter colours that really show through (magenta/cyan/Indian yellow) are COBRA, and the duller ones are the Artisan oils. The Titanium white would never go white enough when mixed with water. Haven't tried the COBRA Titanium white yet. That will be the third sitting I think.

Aria (based on an old character design of mine)

Artisan Colours: Cad yellow pale, French Ultramarine, Yellow ochre, Premanent Allizarin Crimson, Phathalo Green (Blue Shade), Titanium white.
COBRA Colours: Indian Yellow, Primary Cyan, Primary Magenta, Burnt Umber
Oil: None. Used water.

I did this painting on a piece of 300lb watercolour paper taped to a piece of Masonite. After taping the paper down with blue painters tape, I did a rough sketch of a face. Over this I did two layers of matte medium (in opposite directions to make sure it was even) to not only secure the drawing in place, but also to act as a ground between the paint and the paper. Gesso is typically used, but after watching an oil painting tutorial by illustrator Donato Giancola, I thought this would be a good way to still have the sketch to show through while working. He usually mounts his work on Masonite, and then proceeds to do about four layers over the drawing. He does this to protect it and act as a good ground to work on. This simple method blew my mind! It means you can do a tonal drawing, print it, mount it, and paint over it, without having to redraw the thing your going to paint. A less painful way then redrawing from a sketch or using the grid method!

So far I like the result, but have yet to test the better white, black and water mixable safflower oil.

Next time...

I will have an update on the portrait of Aria, and the beginning of 3 new paintings on Masonite panel. I will go through the first few steps of treating the panels as well as comparing regular Masonite to Ampersand Hardbord ( a specially treated form of Masonite that is artist quality as well as archival!)