Category Archives: experiment

Tide Pool painting update

I didn’t start on the water yet because I need to plan a few hours to get it going and it would be easier to see with the sand painted first. I’m excited I got this far. This is probably over half finished but I need to go over the whole thing again, not sure about the sky and sand but they might be ok like this. I was planning on putting some marsh grass on the sand in front of the big tree on the left.

Every time I go there the water is different. Today it was calm and reflections were on the water but most of the time when I’m there I don’t see a lot of reflections except on the closer shallow water on the left .

When I started the background a couple weeks ago we didn’t have as much fall color and now more is showing. The first time I painted it I used a light gray green and yesterday I added some shades of orange on top of the green. I want to brighten up the orange a little more and do more on the whole background then when it’s dry, make a thin glaze to go over the whole background and try to give it some aerial perspective. Still a lot more to do on the background but this is ok for a start.

You can hardly see the little boy working on his sand castle but he’s under a layer of sand colored paint with a coat of masking fluid over him. That’s the top of his little round head on the tan tinted canvas paper. When I start on the water I’ll cover his head with light blue and when it dries peel up the masking fluid and it will be like Christmas if it works and my little boy becomes visible. I hope you can see what I’m talking about. I think it will work and I can pull my little figures out. I think it will work.

The grays and brown scribbles over her head are wet sand and it will have bright reflections of water. Then the tan paper will be blue and I’ll be able to take the masking fluid off her too. Sand is sticking to the masking fluid and it’s all over the painting. The more layers of paint you put on top of masking fluid make it harder to peel off and the more time you let it on the paper makes it harder to get off too. Sometimes when you try to peel off the masking fluid the paper rips. We’ll see. Everything’s an experiment and might not work out as hoped. I did a little masking fluid and acrylic experiment before and it wasn’t bad but this is still iffy.

Flowers Dreaming / acrylic glaze experiment

A couple days ago I did some mono prints on black paper with blue and violet mixed together and gold and red mixed together. That’s the first layer of color underneath.

This experiment is for the painting I’m working on of the tide pool. The opposite bank of the inlet often has some haze so I wanted to try acrylic medium the same way I use oil paint by spreading a layer of medium on the dry first layer of paint then painting a thin layer of white on top of the medium and wiping it off.. That’s the top half of this. Then I mixed some thin white paint with some thin medium and scraped a few clouds on top of my first thin glaze. I’m using my palette knife.

On the bottom half I scraped some thin white paint mixed with thin medium on the dry mono print and blotted some off. When it was drying I used the same blue, violet, gold and red and made a few new flowers on top of the glaze by mono printing. Some flowers are below the glaze and some on top.

So that might work to give my new painting some aerial perspective but I’m not really ready for the glaze step because I didn’t finish the underpainting yet. Thursday looks like my next chance to work on it in Plein air but I need to work on my drawings of the kids for the scene at home too.

The difficult parts get me hung up sometimes. I can’t rush. I need a good plan first.

Very thin white glaze showing black paper.

I guess white is working ok. I don’t need to mix gray.

New violet dots and new red and gold on top of thin white glaze that is showing the veins in the gold paint underneath.

The white glaze is collecting on the texture of the previous mono print.

underpainting for Homage to Surf and Turf

This will be my new pointillism experiment. I wish I knew how the pointillism masters did it because I like the visual effect. It’s kind of a color experiment. I tried to do a dot painting before and I’m still trying to figure out what works best. Do they draw an outline on a white canvas and start dotting on white or do they do and underpainting? I did the underpainting because this is complicated. I’m guessing Seurat did an underpainting.

My underpainting is in warm and cool gray. The areas showing up in warm gray will be dotted on top with cool colors and the crabs, horse and flowers will be warm colors so they are the blue gray in the underpainting. The underpainting colors might show through or even if they don’t show they will have some effect on the finished dot colors.

Some times I try a color experiment using complimentary colors in the underpainting and I don’t always like the finished look. These crabs, if I used green that is the compliment of red, or blue is the compliment of orange, the two main colors in the crab being shades of red and orange, the color contrast would be very strong. In fact it might look psychedelic which is not my favorite look in a painting. So this time I used grays instead of pure blue or green for this part. I hope you can see what I’m trying to do, make color contrast but not so contrasty that it looks psychedelic.

This is a big painting for dotting all over it. What if I have to go over it twice?! OH NO!! hahaha Then what if it looks stupid finished?! OH H-LL NO!! It could happen. That’s how it is with art experiments. I’ll give it my best shot but it could take a couple more weeks so don’t worry, I’ll post it and let you decide, either way.

horse drawing practice and experiment failure explained

plan B

I decided to try again with another model horse. The experiment I showed on the previous post was a total flop. I’m putting a photo of the wreckage on this post at the bottom.

This is another quick rough start but I think I can make this sketch work out for a painting.

Just ignore those smears. There will be even more smears but I’ll have it neat for a painting.

The reason this one is going to work is because I went back to my training to measure the proportions instead of trying to use the checked tablecloth as a grid. I knew the tablecloth grid idea wasn’t working but tried to fix it and couldn’t.

The right way to measure proportions and draw freehand is to hold a pencil out at arm’s length and close one eye. Use the pencil to compare the length to the width of the subject. You put your thumb at the place on the pencil to compare your measurements. This horse, from where I’m standing, measures for the body to be as long as the measurement from the front hoof to the eye. A good bit of the horse’s rump is above the level of the eye. I’ll go back and measure the head and compare it to the legs, etc. If I take the time to keep checking the proportions and making adjustments it will work. In the end you have to just eyeball it to make corrections.

Back in the days when I went to open studio figure drawing I didn’t see other artists holding out their pencils at an arms length to measure the proportions of the figure. Maybe they felt self conscious about it or maybe they never were taught how to do it, or maybe they wanted to make a modern style loose drawing, I don’t know. But I don’t see other artists doing it and I have to because I’m trying to do a realistic drawing.

I decided to draw this horse because the one from a few days ago, his back hoof is off the ground in an odd position and after trying to fix the bad drawing I decided that hoof might be funny looking even if I could draw it right.

omg. This is so f—-n weak. I should have left it the way it was.

The reason the tablecloth doesn’t work for a grid is because the tablecloth is on a horizontal surface and the horse is standing on it which is a different vertical plane. That made my horse come out elongated which was an interesting look but not what I wanted. If I taped the tablecloth to the wall and stood the horse in front of it to use the checks as a grid that wouldn’t work either because I’m looking down on the horse at a slant. It would be distorted in another way.

My old teachers would have given me real hell for trying to draw with a grid. But they’re dead so I’m safe. hahahah No, it’s ok. Now you know that it doesn’t work too.

If you want to represent a subject accurately, don’t trace a photo, don’t make a grid, draw freehand and use a pencil to measure. The naked eye sees perspective better.

drawing experiment / this is a horse

Step one in a new drawing experiment. I’ll work on this more but I don’t know if I can save it.

I’m trying to give myself drawing challenges since I don’t want to go out in the heat to draw in Plein air. The horse I drew yesterday was a view at eye level which is easier to draw than looking down on a subject. I was thinking of putting a horse in a still life but the horse should be drawn like you’re looking down on on it as if you’re looking down on a dining room table. And looking straight at the side of the horse made it easier to draw than a 3/4 view would be, but the 3/4 view would make the painting more interesting for the art viewer, less static. I made the project difficult for myself because I have to do that sometimes to improve my drawing skill.

Looking down on the subject would make it more difficult to measure the proportions than how I did it yesterday with a ruler. So, I came up with this plan to fake a grid for it, which isn’t recommended by my old teachers, but I’m willing to waste time experimenting and possibly making an epic failure.

When I stood my model horse on the tablecloth I wondered if I could use the grid of red and white squares to help draw the horse. I drew the grid to be on the edges of the horse from the view I had standing back a little.

OK. I just got started and had to take a break from it. Stay tuned. I’ll see if I can draw it and if it comes out weird I’ll still post it and call it an ET or something.

the garden at dawn / acrylic experiment

The experiment is to see if masking fluid works on acrylics. The answer is yes.

This is one of my old palette knife scribble abstracts on black paper that I didn’t really like but kept it because I thought I might use the back of the paper or rework on top of the first attempt. The bright pink I originally used was too much pink for my taste so I used my palette knife and put some random smears of masking fluid on top of the palette knife paint smears which I did kind of like and blobbed some masking fluid around the paper. When it dried I dabbed a layer of light violet all over the whole thing. Then I rubbed the dried masking fluid off when the violet dried.

I repeated the steps of masking fluid and waiting for it to dry, daubing on top with light blue then taking the masking off again and doing it again with green.

I have a couple more little experiments started. I’m not sure if this is finished or if I’ll do more on it but I hope it’s an improvement from the original slap happy palette knife abstract. This could be ok or it could be not ok. I can’t tell.

In other painting news, I started a larger painting of red and yellow spider lilies but it was so darn hot and humid out there this morning I didn’t get very much done on it. I need to get there when they open at 9 to beat the heat. I got there at 9:30 today and by 11 it was close to 90*F. so, too hot for me to stand in the sun. I heard a lady asking her kids if they are in Florida. The kids said no. The lady said, this feels like Florida.

And that plan I started for the baseball painting is scrapped. I’m going to start another sketch, maybe try to draw smaller so I can fit all the bases on my canvas. That project looks real difficult and I put it off for a couple weeks.

acrylic experiment continued

Playing around is as important for an artist as it is for kids, in my humble opinion.

All those years ago when I decorated cakes and made gingerbread houses for fun is a good example. Those times when I took pottery classes and those times when I copied Celtic knots from a book of Celtic knot patterns. then decorated my pots with Celtic knots, Every different thing I ever got my hands into, it all adds up to different things to draw off now that I’m older but it was just fun at the time. When I finally decided to try to paint with acrylics and said to myself, this paint has the same consistency as icing, what else can I do with it? Well, obviously I can’t ice a cake with acrylics, but if I never did cake decorating I never would have thought of piping acrylics out of a cake decorating bag.

Now, even this discovery, that I can pipe acrylics like I can pipe icing is still not the end of the line. I might put this info in the back of my mind and it could stay there untouched for 30 years or I might use this info and do something no one else would ever do.

If you like the idea of piping acrylics out of a cake decorating bag and you want to try it I”d be happy to see what you come up with. You might have ideas to share too.

Everything I paint won’t make the cut to be saved for posterity. This experiment might get tossed some day when I cull my art again. But these fun experiments can increase the odds of my making some type of art that will stand the test of time. This is why it’s important to ignore people who tell an artist, “Pick one style and stick to it,” It’s safe to ignore those people who want to see some type of linear progress in your work. They ask for you to stick to one genre, like Plein air, or abstract or something so they can say, I see progress. If you do that you limit your own possibilities.

Do what you want to do as an artist. Don’t listen to jurors who would limit you in any way, play around as much as you want to and seriously try to make a painting work out the best you can when you want to. This attitude leads to more inspiration and less burn out.

Ghost Horse in the Badlands / acrylic experiment

I’m having too much fun here!! Somebody stop me!! hahahahah

I’m trying to think of different ways to paint with acrylics that I don’t need a brush. I started with making mono prints and palette knife paintings. There are more things you can use to make different textures, like sponges. Also, there’s the acrylic pour which looks like a lot of fun. I might take a class sometime. I know you can get some cool effects with acrylic that I never did before, so if you have any tips let me know.

I made a quick watercolor background for this experiment to try a new color violet that I bought. I don’t use watercolors very often. I’d like to learn how to paint with them too, but these days it’s been fun with acrylics. It seems like most artists have their hands in more than one medium.

Can you guess how I painted the lines of the horse without a brush?

YES! It’s a cake decorating tube! I have these things from long ago when I did a lot of cakes! I don’t care if I waste that 30 year old plastic icing bag. I can squirt the rest of the acrylic back in the tube it came out of and clean the tip with water. It’s ok for now in another plastic bag. I might want to do another experiment before I put it away.

It felt a little awkward starting out and you can see my shaky lines on the horse head and neck, but then I got the hang of it, just like icing a cake! I could finish this painting, paint a blue sky or something, maybe work on the badlands rocks, or try to make a ghostly look on the horse like a thin wash, I don’t know.

Doesn’t that make a pretty photo with the icing bag on top of a watercolor blend where I tried my new violet with a green ?

I think this experiment worked out. Not for Plein air painting but for doing abstracts at home with acrylics.

hex sign Zentangle attempt on scratchboard

I’ll try again some other day.

The past few years I’ve seen a lot of Zentangles and thought that looks like fun. My daughter gave me a set of scratching pens because I was thinking of doing a PA. Dutch Easter egg and needed a new scratch tip for my pen. So I gave Zentangle a try on this little scratchboard. I might try to Zentangle an egg but for the 1st try I thought a flat surface might be easier. I don’t know if this is a good design or a bad one. The guy on a YouTube video said there is no right and wrong, just have fun. I like that guy’s attitude.

The hex sign is my fall back doodle because I’m PA Dutch but you can use a hex sign even if you’re not PA Dutch and you won’t hear a PA Dutch person yelling “cultural appropriation”! Why do some people get offended if an artist outside their culture uses one of their designs and some people don’t care if you steal from their culture?

Do the Japanese get offended by other cultures writing haiku? I never heard of that happening. Did anyone get offended by Picasso stealing designs from Africa? I bet they didn’t complain to him about it.

The ninnernet makes us one world. If that culture comes into your home it’s a part of your culture and you can use what you like from it. That’s how I feel about it. Go ahead and make hex signs and sell them if you can. I don’t care. (just not my hexes, you have to draw your own) But then, I’m not some insecure wuss. hahahaha

Feel free.

Iris Dreaming / acrylics

I painted this from memory using my palette knife. Yesterday I bought a tube of violet acrylic and couldn’t wait to try it out!

I have a lot of stuff I really need to do, good thing this didn’t take long.

Next week paint goes on sale at Jerry’s Artarama. I might buy another color of acrylic since I’m having so much fun with it.

Acrylics and a palette knife are a lot easier than oils and a brush for me. I don’t know about acrylics and a brush. I might wreck some brushes.