Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brush Cleaning

At the end of a painting session it is sometimes difficult to bring yourself to clean your tools of torture.  Ignore them, let them harden to rakes, and they will torture you.

I find that my cleaning container on my tabouret gets pretty grungy after a short period.  The surface I use to rub off the pigment on my brushes gets a grey scum on it and I end up with dirty brushes after I clean them.  Not much fun to paint that way.  So, how to fix this condition?

First, I retired my expensive stainless steel insert in my nice expensive stainless steel pot.  Next I retired the pot itself into garage duty.  I upsized my pot to a Tim Horton's coffee tin - large.

Measuring the mesh for the Timmy tin.

Then I layed out the tin on top of 1/4" zinc coated wire mesh.  I now have a lifetime supply.  A couple of bricks held everything in place.

Base Mesh

I left about 2 1/2 " extra on the inside diameter of the tin on each side.  Then I notched each corner down past the inside diameter.

Mesh in Place

And voila, ready to add cleaner.  I filled the odourless mineral spirits to at least 2 " over the mesh.  Rub the brushes softly over the mesh.  The pigment falls to the bottom.  Since the wire mesh is round and of little surface area almost no pigment stays there to foul your brushes.  I've been using this for a couple of weeks now.  The pigment on the bottom of the tin is close to 1/2" thick now.  I have saved a lot of time with this and tend to clean my rushes because I know it will be effortless and without frustration.

If you want to go luxe on this, buy a stainless steel pot with lid from the Canadian Tire.  To make it worth while, make sure it is upsized from the Tim's Tin.  You will of course be buying your OMS by the gallon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Colour Is It?

Today we painted in a moody overcast day with a lot of sky activity.  While setting up we noted two things.  The sky, the source of light, was not the lightest shape.  The snow was a lighter.  But what colour was it?

Blue Red Violet Sky

It was easy to see the value difference.  So we looked through a colour isolator and asked "is the snow blue, yellow, or red?"  That at least established the coulour family.  Mix some up and try it out.  Get the right value.....  This is easier with a limited palette.  Fewer decisions, simpler.

No Shadows

Too white, too red, a tad dark.


Too warm, a tad light.

So this is an iterative process.  Establish the colour family - blue violet.  Check against what you see.  Get the value right.  Check the relative value.  Against the sky - darker, against the birches - darker and warmer.  Then your decision is whether to exaggerate the values and colours or not.  Depends on your concept.  What you are trying to say?

On Site Photo Comparison

In reality the sky showed quite a bit darker than the snow.  Two or three steps.  The cedars cool greyed green isn't too bad in the reference.  Compare, compare, compare.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Brush Renewal

Here are the tools of torture I faced this morning in the studio.

Sizes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

I use hogs hair bristle flats.  There are a few of each in various stages of decay.  In any painting session I tend to use one of each but either the 10 or the 12.  I work with a rag in my left hand wiping off the excess paint between strokes.  Then I wipe the paint off my rag onto that left hand.  Then the left hand works at producing painting clothes out of everything I own.

I use flats and they wear themselves into filberts with round shoulders.  I don't throw any of them out.  They often wear themselves into a special use brush.  I like the flats because they hold a good load of paint.  I can control them to make small marks as a result of my use of the big brush.  All of the brushes above save for the #10 are well on their way to becoming filberts.  I like a visible brush stroke with a square tail.  So.......

New Flats

These will make me feel sharp and clean, just like coming out of a shower.  My outdoor kit is in worse shape so I'll change them up as well.  After all, I'm going out painting in the snow tomorrow.

It is great to have an inventory.

New Brush Stash

So I'll paint with my new flats, my hand made filberts, my palette knife, my rag,  and my fingers.  At one time I used rounds as did the old masters.  They are good for hiding your brush strokes.  The bright is a short flat.  Holds less paint, can be used as a chisel for sculpting paint.

I have had good luck with these Rosemarie brushes.  I order a couple of times each year from England.  Quick delivery, good price, good brushes.  The catalogue is a good read, but don't get hooked.  In the world of no right and wrong, this catalogue can get to you with "what might be".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Finally Some Snow

You know I find snow painting both invigorating and educational.  Snow just takes on the rainbow in all its forms at any time.  And it simplifies for you.  The first step in awakening a  design sense.

But how do you choose what to paint?  Where to stop?  Tough when you are excited or if you are looking for the perfect scene to copy.

New Years day I took my painting remedy and found this just down the road.

Credit in the Glen, Overcast

I have painted here before any number of times.  And my kids swung off the old Walnut for many years.  That makes this difficult for me.  I have to get the memories out of mind and look not for the things so familiar, but instead to look for interesting abstract shapes.  Then I can ask "what could I do with these shapes?"  How could I make a statement in paint?  Local tone?  Light and shade? etc.  Lets look at a few thumbnails - small number of shapes - simplify - what to leave out?, values - a dilemma with snow? what orientation on the canvas?  Do I have a canvas on hand to do that?  I stopped here so I must feel good about the area.  Are there lots of compositions here?

When I first started to paint on site, my mentor would get out of the car and go casually about setting up.  I often wondered what he saw.  I heard the "Harold truths" on the subject.  I didn't really understand them.  I'd ask him where we should stop.  "Doesn't matter" was  the answer.  Slowly I have developed tools and approaches to deal with these decisions.  It takes time.  Keep at it.  Think shape, design, simplicity, what might be.

I have been watching the ice shapes growing on the river.  We may get a fresh snow tonight.  Should be interesting in the morning.

Earlier, Less Ice, Full Sun