Monday, July 31, 2017

Monotype Day - The Grand Army

Saturday was a day of monotype printing.  I can't believe I haven't touched a press since May, that's the longest period of time I've gone without printing in three years.

I've missed working on montypes, especially at Rob's studio.  The light is right, the music is going, and I get to drink tea while trying to make some magic happen.

I always get asked how I obtain some of my marks, there's no magical tool, just some hog bristle brushes of different shapes.  The brush above is a da Vinci brush for plein air painting, series 7707, size 6.  The bristles are long and flexible enough that they create the long grass effect when you swipe upwards. 

The first couple of prints and their ghosts chilling on the leather couch.  I love this shot!

Above is a short video of how I use a clay shaper/paint eraser to wipe away areas that need harder edges. Eventually I go over some of the areas with a soft synthetic bush to soften them. This tool is perfect for drawing, in this case the texture of tree trunks.

Above I'm working on another plate, getting that grass effect with da Vinci plein air brush series 7407, filbert. After years of use this brush no longer looks like a filbert, it has now turned into a bright, which just like the round helps to create grass effects.

This is the moment of truth, putting the plate through the press and crossing your fingers hoping that the print will turn out alright. Sometimes the paper doesn't absorb all the ink you get very light spots, sometimes the opposite happens when it absorbs too much and it prints extremely dark causing the loss of details. In this case, I was very pleased with the outcome. The prints from this session will be posted next week, come back and check them out.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Watercolor Making

I enrolled in a watercolor making class with Kremer Pigments which took place last night.  I had learned from a watercolorists years ago how to make watercolor but I never wrote anything down, fast forward ten years later and I definitely needed a refresher.  Turned out to be easier than I remember, well at least in concept, you still needed a lot of elbow grease to make things happen. 
I was able to play with beautiful historic and Kremer-made pigments, like this Burgundy Red Ochre Deep.  Pigments are so beautiful in their purest form.  
Grinding the Burgundy Red Ochre...color deepens but still retains a beautiful saturation.  Love the look of paint being moved around.  
We got to play with the colors as we made them, although the time to make fourteen colors was very limited so I didn't get to play with them to much.  I could only lay down quick sample swatches in my watercolor book, and of course label each color with the pigment product number, very important if you want to get the same color again in the future! 
Here I'm mixing Moroccan Yellow Ochre before grinding.  You have to make sure to wet all the pigment before running it under the muller.  
 Mull away!  Such a beautiful color, don't you think?  The focus of last night's class was on historic and Kremer-made pigments, which are mostly natural earths and minerals.  For those who have never worked with pigments before, earth colors tend to be gritty, some more than others, this is the nature of the pigments.  Some color making companies grind the hell out of pigments to make them all uniform across their paint lines and to make people feel "safe."  You can certainly feel and hear the pigment grind under the muller. 
Meet Russian Green earth, in pigment form this is a beautiful pale bluish green, when wet it becomes deeper. 
Have you ever seen genuine Lapis Lazuli in pigment form?  Or have you played with it?  This one is from Chile, and there was so much of it! We didn't get to make this one ourselves, I think everyone was to scared to mess up, so we had Rachel our instructor mix this up for us. 
This one is Jarosite from Cyprus, some people call it Lemonite, and yes it is pretty!  I love ochres, actually I love most earth colors, so for me to be playing with all these last night was just incredible. 
This is the fruit of my labor and I can't wait to play with them in the studio!  Color swatches of these coming up in the next few days, till then have a good one and may you have colorful dreams. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Busy at Work

So far it has been a busy summer.  I feel like I have a lot of different things cooking, at a slow simmer, and the final meal is a long way ahead.  The good thing is that I'm working and hoping a couple of projects lead to bigger things.  
After years of having this on my wish list, I finally bit the bullet and purchased Tad Spurgeon's book Living Craft.  I have not been this excited to receive in book in the mail for a long time the way I was with this one.  I have been following Tad's work for more than ten years, back when I used to work for Kremer Pigments.  He shopped with us then, maybe he still does, and that's how I came across his website.  Years of hard work and research have gone into this book which will help the painter interested in art materials and painting practices that have been part of the craft for centuries; the stuff that modern art schools have no clue about.  The reason why I mention this purchase is because I felt I needed a little guidance, it's been a while since I've dealt with raw art materials and I thought he would be a good way to get reacquainted with this part of my past.  And why do I need to brush up (hehehe no pun intended) on oil painting techniques?  Well I will be teaching an oil painting workshop with Kremer Pigments NYC, date still remains to be determined but I am getting myself ready for it.  Funny how we have come full circle.  

Remember the Christmas card commission I wrote about recently?  That's still under way.  I think we are on revision number 7, or is it 8? I don't know, I'm beginning to lose count, but the good news is that were are getting very close to completing the project.  That's if the clients don't change their minds again.  The good thing about this commission is that it got me back into watercolor, I forget how beautiful it can be, so much so that I enrolled in a watercolor making class with Kremer Pigments which will take place tomorrow.  I can't wait!!! I will be documenting the whole thing so make sure to check back in the next couple of days.
After a break of almost four weeks, I finally made it out to Prospect Park for a plein air session.  It was a now or never sort of thing, glad that the 20% chance of rain did not become a reality and was able to enjoy some sun for a good part of the afternoon  
Here's my canvas half way covered.  I was actually pleased as to how much I was able to cover in a short amount of time.  I increased the canvas size by a couple of inches, which can mean a lot when painting outdoor.  I don't know how other painters can paint bigger than 16x20 on site in one session, but I struggle, so I keep my canvas small.  This one is 11x16 I think, a big jump from my usual 9x12. 
Of course, I can't forget about drawing.  Recently I started another one, again all from imagination and allowing the process to guide me and determine the final image.  Not only do I find drawing to be peaceful but it's also a good way of keeping busy when sitting on the couch while the TV is on.  Some new drawings will be posted on this blog, make sure to check back soon.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The End of 2016

 Cemagi Beach, Sunset, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 11 x 14 inches 

I know I have neglected this blog for a long time, but I never realized just how much until I went through it today and noticed that I had not posted paintings from the end of last year.  Instagram is what I update almost daily, it seems it's easier and faster for everyone.  Also, does anyone still read blogs?  It almost seems like a thing of the long past, but here I am updating in hopes that it does reach a few people. 
 Cemagi Beach, Morning Light, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 11 x 14 inches 

Last October I had the luck of visiting Bali, a place that was not in my list of places to see but it was an invitation I could not refuse.  Of course I brought my paints with me, I traveled over 24 hours to get there for a two week visit, how could I not? 
Cemagi Beach Rocks, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches 

Jet lag in this trip was a blessing, I woke up between five and six in the morning for the first week, allowing me to go out and catch the morning light.  Our property was right on the beach, which was only accessible in the morning when the tide was low.  Around 1pm. the ocean would claim this beach and waves would come crashing against the walls. 
Bali Sunset, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches 

Later in the afternoon the ocean would recede again revealing new formations on the dark brown sand.  Painting in Bali was a nice change, I was forced to use a different color palette to reflect the earthy tones of the place.  

Pura Dalem Segara II, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 11 x 14 inches 

Temples were every where, and this is not an exaggeration.  Every building, private or commercial, either had a temple attached or some sort of altar, all filled with offerings of flowers and food.  The structures are very intricate there, a feast for the eyes that at times turned overwhelming.  This temple was located at the back of the property where our group stayed.  This is the second painting of this temple, the first one I never got to finish because it was much more intricate.  At some point I have to finish it using photos I took of the place.      
September Afternoon in Cold Spring, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 14 x 11 inches 

In September a small group of us took a little weekend getaway to Cold Spring, NY.  I love being in the country side of the North East.  The light is different, and when the sun goes down everything seems magical.  The leaves in the trees begin to become alive, and as the gentle summer breeze sweeps through and the trees put on a fluttering show.  Life goals - get a house Upstate and paint all day!  
A Creek in Cold Spring, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches 

2016 was a busy year, I'm not sure if I had mentioned it before but I got married in July.  The months leading up to the big day were busy with planning, all while working my full time job and keeping up with my artwork.  This year things have calmed down a little but time is flying by, I'm working on paintings, drawings, and prints, but somehow it feels like I don't have enough to show for it.  Time to get serious and make more art!  More to come very soon.