Monday, November 30, 2009

Red Vest, 16x20

Assuming you've read the previous blogs, try squinting at this one and follow the shadow down the back of his hat, under the brim, down his hair and under his collar and sleeve. That's what I blocked in with a warm neutral color. I added alizarin crimson to this palette because of the reds in the jacket and, five hues, flat brushes and a little Galkyd Lite mixed with Gamsol for medium. Again, no pre-drawing; all the 'drawing' happened as the painting progressed. About three hours. I'll post one more portrait painting done like this and then perhaps a conte also with no 'predrawing'.

Brian, 16x20

The limited four color palette and no predrawing method was working so well I decided to try it with a portrait. I massed in the dark of his sweatshirt and the shadows on his face and hat. Since I then knew what was dark and what was light I was able to concentrate on color and draftsmanship for the rest of the painting. There was freedom in not having the lines of a drawing on the canvas. I felt unconstrained and could move paint wherever it needed to go without having to 'maintain a likeness' that I had pre-established. No drawing actually ended up being better drawing, if you know what I mean. About 3 hours.

Roslyn Autumn, 12x14

Another quick marker study and the resulting painting. When I did the drawing I was only interested in the major differences between the light and the dark areas so I used just one value of marker. Once I had that, I used paint to loosely block in those large shapes in a neutral color before adding the actual color you see here. Once the major light/dark separations were made, all I had to do is add color in a value that was similar to the block-in. That's when painting becomes fun.

Grange Hall, 10x12

On a rainy day east of the Cascades (Hi, Cathe!) I ran outside during one of the semi-breaks in the weather and, after marker sketching a 3" study, painted under the back door of the van. Again, this is the limited palette mentioned in the last post....the only addition was two handwarmers, a fleece vest and a heavy jacket. I still froze.

Perhaps this limitation in hues helps 'set' the colors together in a pleasing way. Notice how the value study is just a general indication of relationships. The painting keeps that overall idea but isn't a slave to the concept.

Eagle Harbor

I've been having a great time lately...with some time out to entertain the flu...painting with a limited palette and not doing any initial drawing. I like not drawing and, instead, loosely blocking in the dark and/or shadow sections with the same hue that changes with the type of subject. It seems to enhance the formation of large shapes early in the painting process. In this piece I used a reddish underpainting over everything but the sky and background. You can see it peeking through in the large tree and rocks.

This is the same (or similar) palette I used for the August postings: Turkey, burnt, or raw umber (yes, there actually is a 'turkey umber' and it's not what we did to the bird on Thanksgiving), cad yel light or deep, cad red light, cobalt blue ... sometimes Pthalo blue...sometimes a different red depending on the situation. I'll explain later.

Over the next few days I'll post a few more of the pieces done this way, including portraits.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Filling Markers

OK, marker fans. You've been asking for this info....

I use three different brands of markers, Touch, Prismacolor and Copic, and have been successful in refilling them all. At first I didn't see the value in refilling, but after I counted up the number of markers hanging around the studio it made economic sense.....and especially after I ran out of marker juice during a demonstration.

All you need is the ink and refilling needles. Both Copic and Letraset sell the ink. I went to iCopic for my supplies and was able to refill every make of marker. For about $5, a bottle will refill a marker 5 t0 10 times, which is both cheaper and more convenient. They recommend getting a bottle of clear blender to clean up the needle, but since it's only ethyl alcohol (enthanol) I would think most any alcohol would work.

It's very easy. Connect the needle to the bottle of refill ink, gently thread it down the side of the marker tip and gently squeeze a few times. Let it rest a bit to distribute the ink and you've got a new marker. Disconnect the tip, rinse with alcohol, seal everything up and go draw.

In my opinion these are the ups and downs of the different brands: Prismacolor: easy to find, the tip has three edges for differing lines, they have a tendency to roll and the caps are a bit of trouble. Touch: seem to hold a lot of ink, not as easy to find. Copic: replaceable tips, different size markers with larger tips, easy to pop tips in and out, seem to be less 'toxic' smelling, harder to find, expensive. Letraset I haven't tried.