Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last Kick at It

After months of anticipation, and after a March heat wave, we got the biggest snow fall of the year.  No, not Toronto, but the Hockley valley got it wet and thick.  So we tried it for the last effort of the year.

Snow on My Side

By the time we started to paint we were left with large isolated snow patches.  What to do?  I have found over the years that my success percentage is much higher if I have a good idea of what I am going to do before I begin to paint.  This is called having a concept.  It means that you have developed at least a mental image of what your painting will look like before you begin.  Athletes call it visualization.  They visualize steps in the process that lead to an outcome.  For me the highest level of this visual exercise is my thumbnail sketch.  I design the image, leave things out, rearrange, add, check shapes for interest and value, and I even "paint" the little pencil sketch by laying in the shapes with my pencil as if the pencil were a brush.  Works great.  You know where you are going before you start.

Today we had to decide what to do with the snow.  Here is one interpretation.

April Snow, Hockley, 11x14 oil on Board

Dealing with disjointed patches of snow requires the vision and strong editing.  Its about the snow.  Here is another interpretation.

Bootlegger, 11x14 Oil on Linen on Board

Yup, no snow.  Here it is about the stream and the logs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Keep Those Brushes

For me it is important to keep the application of paint varied and interesting.  So far, I have never thrown out a brush.  Pack rat you say.  Maybe.  My original drawing brush is a #1 bright hogs bristle.  It looks like a stump.  But, it makes an interesting mark and the other end of the brush scrapes very well.  My primary paint application is done with hogs bristle flats from #4 to #16.  Second is perhaps a palette knife that I scrape with and make other interesting shapes and blobs, including sharp edges.  Then there are the filberts, the eggberts (bristle) and a few mongoose brushes that are very interesting as the hair breaks or falls out.

Almost New and Not Much Left

These are mongoose brushes.  The newer one is a larger size than the worn one once was.  The bristles on these are very soft.  They can be used for a number of things such as precision drawing.  The worn one though is very valuable.  When it gets to this stage it needs maintenance if it is to be useful for any period of time.  The glue down in the ferrule is the weakness of these brushes.  So, top it up when the bristles get sparse.

Cabinet Makers Glue

This stuff works well and resists the solvents and paint compounds.  Then this little hair brush becomes a tool of torture that has endless uses.

Tortured Little Hair Brush

Here the brush was shoved bristles first into a pile of loosely mixed paint.  The hairs splay and hold a huge gob of paint.  Great application effects!  Ya, ya, you are not supposed to treat brushes this way.  Means to an end.  I also use my thumb, the other end of a brush, dry brush, medium filled brush.......  Its called "painting".

Detail from "Honfleur Sailer"

If you look at this small element you will see transparent, translucent, and opaque passages, passages done dry brush, bits done with the little tortured hair brush and the palette knife.  Even a thumb print or two.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Days

The family and baby have cleared out.  So quiet this morning.  I had a peaceful breakfast and decided to paint.  The oils were petrified on my easel.  So I scraped them off, cleaned the palette and squeezed out new paint.  Like a Spring morning, clean and crisp.  I pulled out last week's plein air start.  I checked the values, the concept, the tilt.

Colborne Lodge, 16 x 20 Oil on Canvas

I was working to finish this off after a week away from it in High Park.  Getting the sun light better now.  Time for coffee I said.

"You've got orange paint on your sweater sleeve!!!"  Crap!  No, its also on my pants.  Oh no!  Where else is it.  Not to be a good painting day.  Its on the couch, the rocker, and the floor.  A large gob, slightly dry, but rich and gooey.

Time for maintenance.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.  We are painting the cherry blossoms in High Park.  It'll be worth the drive into the smoke for that.  Tonight I'll check to see how Vincent chose to deal with the orchards.