Category Archives: experiment

Sea and Sky / from memory

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This is my third try to represent a wave, painting at home from memory with my Inktense watercolor pencils. It’s on the back of a flop experiment. That’s why it has some smudges showing in the sky.  It’s another experiment, this time trying out masking fluid applied with my fan brush to mask out the white clouds, and  white oil paint stick used to mask out white foam on the wave.

I’m guessing which colors from the set of pencils to use after finally finishing with the big project of testing each color pencil by making washes from the darkest concentration of the color to the most washed out lightest version of the color.  That’s why I call that  that exercise  a gray scale. If black is 100% and white is 0% using gray, when you do a gray scale of a color you can estimate the value of the color. Some of the colors don’t get any darker than 30%. I have 3 pencils that go to black in the set, which is good.

Now I need to go back to the beach to see if the colors I picked are close to the colors of nature, or if I can make a better color.

It’s going to get unseasonably hot out there today. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the beach today or wait till tomorrow when it might be more comfortable weather. In the summer, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, it’s too hot to paint in plein air in the sun. In the winter, I have to wait until afternoon when it warms up enough to go out. That way I’m not suffering for art.

The time I spent goofing around at home with these pencils is going to help my chance of success when I seriously try to do a nice finished painting. You learn a lot through play. You can take a class and a good teacher can help immensely  but you still have to work on your own for a long time to get anywhere with art, at least that’s my experience.

 

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untitled / watercolor pencils

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I wish I could be an abstract expressionist. Yesterday I read a blog, Vin de Vie Wine of Life, by Sarah Abraham. about an artist Oliver Lee Jackson who’s work is hanging in the National Gallery until Sept. 15. His paintings are so beautiful. At my art school, YAA, they discouraged us from that path. We had to plan our paintings. Abstract expressionism is painting from your subconscious, if  I understand it correctly, and we were expressly forbidden to do that. I distinctly remember our esteemed teacher Fitzkee saying , “Don’t clean out the cobwebs from your brain on your canvas, no one wants to see that.” I understood Fitzkee’s point of view.

But last night I just wanted to have a little fun with my Inktense pencils after working on that academic exercise for hours. The old school exercises can’t hurt if I’m trying to see the colors I can make with the pencils and learn to use them, but is scribbling blindly bad for my art?

I don’t really want the viewer to see the cobwebs or worse things in my brain. I thought abstract expressionism was for the artist to communicate their emotions to the viewer, and I’m not feeling at all emotional these days. (Thankgawd for less of that)  Does this  little play painting speak to you at all? Should I title it, “I Find Myself Amusing” ?

Easter Egg Drops Acid, Thinks It Is One with The Universe.

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This is an experiment with Inktense  pencils.

I tried to draw an ocean wave at home with my new Inktense colors but got nowhere with that so I picked some colors and did and abstract. I like these pencils. they have strong colors. I tried drawing on dry paper then making it wet and I also tried drawing on wet paper and adding more water on top. They’re like watercolor pencils.

The real thing I’m excited about is the video I want to make this week. I’m just goofing around at home today because Virginia Beach is having a huge concert and I don’t want to go out in the heavy traffic. From what I saw on the news, the concert is a great success and there will be one every year, which is good for the city.

I hope I can do the video this week and get my daughter’s tech help to put it online real soon.

Back Bay / watercolor

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I don’t call myself a professional artist, here’s one reason why.

This painting is really a flop. Lucky for me, as an amateur, it doesn’t matter when a painting doesn’t work out. If I was a pro it would be a big embarrassing waste of time to goof around with something for hours, then I don’t like it. If I only knew what I was doing I could be good.  Yeah, I could be real damn good, but I’ll have to practice because doing watercolors isn’t as easy as the pros make it look.

I’ve taken a couple watercolor classes in the past and I might do that again, but I have a feeling it takes years to master watercolor.  I might buy some magazines and see if I can get tips. Or, if you have any advice, dear reader, I’d appreciate it.

I did this at home. I’ll go to Back Bay and try again in another beautiful spot.

 

 

 

 

alternative media for plein air sketching / watercolor pencils

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It’s fun to try different media and techniques. This is a close up of my first attempt using Aquarelle watercolor pencils, which were recommended to me by my blogging friend, Vivienne Lingard. I’m looking for something that would be easier to transport than oil paint and the supplies I need for oils. I tried oil paint sticks and they’re bright but clunky to draw with. Pastels can be heavy to take out in Plein air, but sometimes I pick a few to take along if I can guess what colors I’ll need, so I don’t have to lug my whole box of pastels down a path. There’s also a wide variety of markers I could use in plein air. And my old favorite, charcoal and chalk.img_2189

I sketched a few Chinese Paperbush flowers from memory for my watercolor pencil  experiment since I’m not finished with that painting and I want more practice drawing the flowers.

I have very little experience with watercolors, so this will take practice.

This winter weather is keeping me at home too much. I think I’ll check out the Virginia Beach Aquarium and find some bright fish to draw if they don’t object to colored pencils.

dragons on silk scarf / oil paint sticks

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Dragon one says to dragon two, “Gurrrl, how you doin?”

Dragon two says, “I’m good. How you doin?”

Dragon one says, “I’m fine. Lets go torch that big flock of sheep.”

Dragon two says, “Lets torch the castle instead. We can get their gold.”

Dragon one says ,”Good idea. Lets go.”IMG_2170

These are the new templates I made using my concoction of corn starch and Elmers glue piped out of a cake decorating bag onto foam  core. The foam core warped as it dried. I’ll try to find something that won’t warp for my next experimental template.

Dragon Head / mixed media / abstract

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Playing with my new art supplies today for tomorrow I drive.

This is an experiment using oil paint sticks and gelato watercolors on watercolor paper.

My daughter likes to find new types of art supplies for me to try. I’m not sure if I was using the gelato colors the right way. A funny syringe type watercolor brush comes with the kit but I didn’t see that it connects directly to the paint. The paint comes out of the tube like a lipstick and you can draw with it on dry paper and you can brush water into it. That’s what I got from the experiment.

I’m thinking of taking some different types of paint with me, besides my regular oils, when I go back to the marsh to draw in plein air again. The oil paint sticks might work because I don’t need to take my pallet, so that’s a lighter load in my bike basket. I don’t think I’ll take my easel, just a sketchbook.

Meanwhile, I’m having fun with my modern art experiments.

silk scarf painting / almost got it

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If I had a nice bright green oil paint stick this might work. I like the template more that the scarf. That’s ok. I’ll try again.  And my dragons: I wanted them to look scary, but they look like they’re saying, “How ya doin?”IMG_2164

I made  left and right templates so my dragons would both face up on the scarf. My daughter gave me some type of clay they called Think Putty. It’s not sticky and almost the right texture to pipe out of a cake decorating bag, so I added a lot of  Elmers glue to thin it and make it sticky. It piped nicely but was a mess to clean up since it’s not water soluble clay. I don’t know what it was made of but the glue blended in.

This method of painting on silk is like doing a rubbing. There are other ways to paint on silk that I haven’t learned, but I might try something else like dye instead of oil paint sticks and a template.

The molded plastic templates you buy in the art supply  stores give you a sharp image but my home made templates aren’t coming out with that look.

No big deal about wrecking this piece of silk.  The first pieces of silk I bought, I thought the width of the bolt would be ok for a scarf, but now I want to make 54″ scarves instead of using the 45″ width.

Then, I tried to use my folding foot on the sewing machine to make the hem on this practice piece and it didn’t work for me. The silk is slippery and I couldn’t keep it in the folding foot. I remembered long ago I made ruffled curtains and the folding foot wasn’t easy even on cotton.

I started sewing the hem by hand like the scarves imported from Thailand. It was going slowly and I decide to sew the hems by machine because my templates might not work anyway, and why spend the time hand sewing on these experiments? I’ll just straight stitch some hems.

I tried to make templates using string and glue on a board, but the string frayed at the cut edges which wasn’t what I wanted. Dragons should have points, not frayed ends. I used craft string and Elmers to glue my design on a piece of black foam core board that time. I’ll try again to make a template using something else. But the green putty is an improvement over the string.

That’s all the problems I had so far with trying to do silk painting on scarves. It’s a good thing I have a lot of patience and not easily discouraged, isn’t it? 😉

In the winter your plein air artist gets into craft projects and other kinds of art, but I’m looking forward to better weather so I can spend more time drawing and painting outdoors.

 

portraits of ladies / blind drawing exercise / mixed media

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A lot of contemporary artists do this blind drawing exercise so I wanted to give it a try.  I did double blind because I picked my colors blindfolded too.

Before I blindfolded myself I arranged my work table with a pile of my watercolors and a jar of water next to them, piles of oil pastels in groups of dark medium and light and a jar of terpenoid next to them, a pile of paint brushes and my paper. For my first experiment I put some watercolor on the palette which I could feel but then I couldn’t tell if my brush was going into the paint because I was blindfolded and I didn’t cheat by looking.  I stuck my finger into the paint. So, for my next experiment I picked up my random color of paint and opened the tube and dabbed it directly onto the paper in several places then dipped my brush into the water, which I could feel for.

It was fun! The first few blind paintings didn’t work at all and I wanted to keep trying. I did six and I’ll show you the two best two.

The thing I like about the one above, is the eye seems to have floated off her face to the right. IMG_2163

Her dad was a glass maker.

The funny thing about this one is, I did draw eyes nose and mouth, but they got lost somewhere and her head looks transparent.

So this is my latest attempt to be contemporary, though technically, all artists alive and working today are contemporary. But art style labels don’t always apply.

Did this exercise improve my drawing? Even though I goofed around with it most of the day, I’d say, no. It was fun, but it won’t help my drawing improve. So, what is the real point of this exercise? To make modern art easier for someone who draws and paints in an old style? If either of these looks like real contemporary art, then the exercise did that for me.

Also, sometimes if you’re working on a project and getting nowhere, you can play around one day with this blind drawing exercise and take a break from the thing that’s not going well. Then go back to the other project mentally refreshed.

An experiment isn’t a failure if you learn something from it. / painting a dragon on fabric

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Failure or not? I’d appreciate any tips, as always.

I like dragons and thought it would be fun to paint one on a silk scarf since I enjoyed the scarf painting class and want to try it again. A lady in the class made her own template with a glue like product on cardboard. I couldn’t spot the same bottle at the art supply stores so I tried a couple other things which didn’t work. But that’s ok because I knew I had the wrong fabric anyway. And I didn’t know how my dragon would look painted on a scarf.IMG_2160

I went to Joanne Fabrics and they didn’t have any real silk so I bought some polyester knowing it was only an experiment. Since I couldn’t find the same product that was recommended to me for making the template, I bought a silicone product in a tube that was for adding sculptural detail to your craft projects. It was hard to squirt the silicone out of the tube, and it made peaks at the end of each line, which I later trimmed off when it dried. I thought this will never work, but I used the plate just to give it a try and this green dragon is what I got from the silicone template.IMG_2159

I also tried making a plate using Elmers glue. It’s too runny. Can you even tell that’s a dragon? I like the red on black though.

I had one bit of luck at the art supply stores. Jerry’s Artarama had some oil paint sticks in the clearance section so I got five for under $26.

So, this is what I learned: I need to redraw my dragon and try again with the right kind of glue for my template and paint it on silk. Also, you can buy real silk at The Fabric Hut in Norfolk. I got some and I’m going to try to do a tiny rolled hem like those imported silk scarves from Thailand. I never did a rolled hem so that might work or it might not, but it’s raining today so whatthehell. It would be great if I can make my own scarves to paint too. I’m not quitting till I get it right.