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Finished Painting May 25, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Politics.
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Here he is, in all his glory purpleosity.  Clicky for full size.

I need a title for this piece.  Any ideas?

I still have no idea for a title for this piece.  I am glad it’s finally done. 

I had some big problems with this guy and I’m glad that he came out as well as he did.  He was supposed to be lighter than this, and the washes I used in the test phases were.  But, I didn’t use the same type of paper for the tests as the painting, so they came out quite different.  Also, I now know not to leave the paint resist on the paper very long.  This gave me the same problem I had with an earlier tree painting with the fibers fuzzing up on me.  This led to the paint not blending the way I wanted too. Oh well.  With the new techniques I’m learning, I won’t be using the resist very much anyway.

***Update***

Oh, yeah.  WAY too purple too.  He was supposed to be red-brownish with purple and gold/orangey tinges.   Oh well.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

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Computers Are Expensive May 25, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Home.
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I’m in the process of buying a new computer.  Because of the weekend / holiday I won’t be able to get it have it up and running until sometime Wednesday.  It’s $1400, which wouldn’t be too bad if I could actually use it to play games, or surf the internet with it and whatnot.  But this one doesn’t do any of that stuff.  It will just tell my car when to shift gears.  That’s all it does.  This cuts rather severely into my toy budget, and it’s not a very fun toy at all.

In other news, I’m in the process of watching some watercolor instruction videos I bought and they are quite the eye-openers.  They are really showing me a lot of the things I’ve been doing wrong and why I’ve been unhappy with a lot of the stuff I’ve done so far.  With the new techniques I’m learning I should be able to start putting out some really nice stuff a lot faster than I used to.  Hopefully.  Stay tuned!

Down and Foreward May 16, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art.
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No doubt you were wondering what I was going to do between the red trees and the main figure.  So was I.

The Bloodtrees were on a little hill of there own and I thought about extending the grassy field over to the main dude.  Eh.  That would be lame though.  I started scratching around with my pencil, laying out some textures.  Hmm.  How about some broken ground there at the hill extending down to…water?  Hmm?  That would be cool.  But too hard maybe – water is tricksy.

I decided to delay deciding and went in with the brokenish ground at the base of the trees and around to the other side of the figure.  I did it wet-in-wet with greens and browns to keep it spontaneous.  Not bad!  It still needs some punching up in spots, but I liked the overall effect. 

I thought for a bit about the next section and decided to go for it.

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Turning Over a New Leaf May 15, 2008

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Let’s take a closer look at those tree forms.

  It\'s time for your close-up.

Now that I look at them again they’re kinda Dr. Suessish.  Hm.  We’ll just keep that to ourselves m’kay?

Looking around on my palette I knew I couldn’t go with any cool shades, so all the blues and greens were out.  Considering my sky anything in the yellow realm was right out too.  That left the browns, reds and maybe violets.  I started to play around with some more of my quinacridones on separate paper.  Q.Magenta and q.burnt sienna made a beautiful color that really stood distinct from the sky.  I practised some strokes, decided on a mixture and went for it.  See the results below the fold.

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The Middle Ground May 14, 2008

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Generally when painting watercolors you move from top to bottom and back to front.  I haven’t figured out how to do atmospheric perspective yet.  I haven’t been able to mix that weird, smokey blue color that washes things out far away.  So I went with near green hills instead. 

Green Hills

Before I go any further, I have to tell you a little story about green.  The basic materials list for this class calls for vermilion paint.  Vermilion is a bluish green shade that I’ve come to dislike a lot.  It’s difficult to work with as it’s very intense and unnatural as hell.  Everyone uses it and they all get unnatural, bluish-tinged trees.  And you can’t ever seem to mix it out with other colors without winding up with something even uglier.  Blech.   I had picked up some Hooker’s and sap greens and I was using those instead vowing never to touch vermilion ever again.

When I bought my Daniel Smith paints the green I went with was phthalo green (blue shade).  Yah, I was wary of that “blue shade” qualifyer, but it looked so pretty on the screen.  Once I got them home I had fun testing them out – until I got to phthalo green.  I squeezed some out and started swabbing it around and my heart sank.  It was that detestable vermilion.  Nuts.  I put it away and didn’t mess around with it again until class the next Monday.  I was grousing about it to one of the ladies that pushed me to buy better paints and she told me to play around with it and assured me that I would get to like it.  So I mushed some around on the palatte and decided to see what the quinacridone gold would do.  BAM!!  It turned that weird color into one of the prettiest and most natural green colors I’ve ever had on my palette!  It was amazing.  Mixing it with some of the other colors revealed some interesting shades too.  Needless to say I stopped trash talking phthalo green and the quinacridone gold rose very high in my favor.

So, there ya go.  The hills were done in phthalo green (bs) mixed with q. gold and shaded a bit with Payne’s grey.  I brought the green up to the tree line and faded it out.  So, that solved the middle-back part of the painting.  The hills contrast nicely with the sky, but doesn’t compete and it’s a cool color so it recedes.  It did give me another problem though.  For those four trees I had kinda had in mind a pale green color for them originally, but that wouldn’t work now with the green hills.  Hmm. 

I went back to my palette and started mixing some colors…

New Painting May 13, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art.
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Previously I posted a little sketch of a tree form and thoughts about a new painting set in a Florida bayou setting.  Then Mr. Lemur King came along with a different take.  My original thought was that it looked like it was creeping around with a slightly menacing aspect.  No.  Now it’s forever kicking back with a beer in it’s branches, pointing to the last hot wing and asking “Are you gonna eat that?”.

I did a couple toss off things after the last painting to try out the new equipment and then settled down to do something for real.  The teacher poked at me to return to the Tree series.  OK fine.  I had a half-sheet of the Kilimanjaro 300 lb paper stretched in the frame and I started to work. I fiddled and fiddled, tried new tree forms and whatnot.  Nothing was working.  I eventually went back to the idea in the original little sketch and recast the figure in full anthropomorphoginical mode in a different pose and setting using some of the newer tree stuff I was playing around with.

I only had a vague notion about how this whole thing was going to work, but enough of the particulars to get started.  I masked off the tree stuff and got started on the sky.

This picture doesn’t quite do it justice regarding the sky.  It’s more even toned than what you see here, but doesn’t lose any of it’s character.  I’m using only my new paints in this one and I’m very pleased so far.  That sky is done wet-in-wet mostly in quinacridone gold with quinacridone burnt orange tinges.  And a little yellow.  It’s a really good start.

There’s a whole fambly of these quinacridone paints available at Daniel Smith and so far I’m really impressed.  They go on beautifully and retain a lot of brilliance.  The Q gold is really amazing and I can’t stop using it.  More about that later.

In this picture I’ve rubbed off the mask from the small trees, but still have it on the main tree dude.  I now need to figure out the middle portion of the painting.

Where Does the Time Go? May 13, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Home.
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It’s been what?  9 Days since a post?  Jenkies H. Crackers.  Not only that, but we’re already through a goodly chunk of 2008 too.  That’s just crazy.  Not much excitement here at Casa Del Yorl, so days drift by unremarked.  Time to make some remarkes then.

I finished and poly coated the trebuchet the weekend before last.  It looks great!  I also found a sack of steel pachinko machine balls I’ve been carrying around since the 70’s and they’re perfect for the ballest bucket on the catapult.  I had to fiddle with the string lengths again to get it to fire right.  I also lost the red clay ball that came with it for a while and had a hard time finding just the right object for size and weight.  I turned out that a small spool of thread was just right and it whipped it right across the room and thwacked into a wall 20 feet away.  I’ll get some video of it and post it soon.  Promise.

What else?  Oh, the watercolor class is over.  Yesterday was the final Class Critique for the regular students.  Zwups!  I thought the final day was this Wednesday.  I wasn’t finished with the painting I was working on and didn’t bring any of the others I did this semester so I didn’t participate.  I just worked on the painting instead.  It still isn’t finished, but it’s getting close and it might be the best one ever.  I’ll put up another post about that in a bit, because it’s gonna be kinda long. 

That’s it for now.  I’ll type at you later.

Paper Experiments May 4, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Science & Technology.
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Following up on my hunch last night I soaked a smallish piece of the 300 lb paper in a bucket, half in and half out for about 5 – 6 hours.  I let the paper dry all night and went to work on it this morning.  I painted new swatches of color across both sides, paying particular attention to the phthalo and indanthrone blues, which seem to have it the worst problems.   There wasn’t any appreciable difference in the appearance once dried.  So much for that theory.  I’ve tried getting a good picture of the problem so y’all can see what the hell I’m talking about, but I can’t get this futzy camera to focus in close enough.  Anyway, I started fooling around to see what else I can do.  Pre-wetting an area doesn’t work.  I had an idea about using some gum arabic to pre-treat an area and that actually does work!  No specks!  Unfortunately, that makes the paint kinda glossy, which is okay by itself, but if I put another color next to it and don’t use the gum arabic it looks different.  Grrr.  I’ve just about come to the conclusion that I’m just not an “Arches” dude.  Oh well – it’s made in France anyway.

General Update May 2, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Home, Science & Technology.
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Been busy. I test-fired the Death Star trebuchet at work and I was disappointed at first. The instructions said to fill the bucket half-way with gravel or sand (I used sandy dirt and gravel) and it had no oomph whatsoever. The clay ball only went 5 feet or so. Filling it up more did little to boost the distance really. One guy suggested putting coins in and he had a bunch of pennies so we put a bunch of those in on the dirt. We started to get some distance finally – 10 feet or so. Still, not the 20 as promised. Obviously we needed more weight. I dumped out the dirt and rock and put all the pennies he had and tossed in a few more coins. I cast around for more metal stuff and eyeballed my paper clips. Then I found my screwdriver/socket tool – ha steel! I threw the sockets and screwdriver heads in. Coin Guy had a small faucet head and I put that in too. That bucket was a lot heavier now. I set it up and let her rip. MUCH better! Big height too! Too high though. I was launching off the top of a long table and the ball was hitting a ceiling beam. I put it on the floor and launched from there and got a distance of 15 -16 feet. I was still getting a lot of hight that should be going for distance. I played around with the string length and by lengthening just a little bit I got a nice ballistic arc and BAM! 20 feet! Huzzah! No, I didn’t get any video of it because I suck. Soon though! Plus, I want to get it finished so it looks pretty for the camera. This weekend, I promise.

On the watercolor front: I did a couple and they suck. Oh yes. They will not be posted. I wrote earlier about stretching a half-sheet of the Arches 300 lb in my new frame and I was really eager about trying it out. I also dropped a chunk of change ($130) on new paints that finally came in late last week. I fooled around with color swatches on some small samples of the 300 lb paper I was going to use and had some disturbing results. The colors went on beautifully, but as they dried they kind of “broke up”. White specks started popping through. It was fibers of the paper. When completely dry the darker color swatches were shot through with white specks. They looked really bad. I could get rid of them by re-wetting the painted areas, but that’s not such a great thing when doing watercolor.

Monday evening I went in to class but forgot my paper sample with the swatches. I did some more on another piece and showed the problem to one of the other advanced ladies. She didn’t know what the problem was, but she never paints on 300 lb paper. The other lady who does didn’t show up. The instructor was busy with the class and didn’t have a much time to look at it. Well, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and effort planning a real detailed painting where this was going to be an issue so I just quick sketched another tree (with foliage this time) and painted that. The sky went in ok but I was doing wet-in-wet there and didn’t have much of “The Problem”. The tree went in okay, but I went over it a lot. It was very smudgy by the time I got finished. Meh. I’m not getting the real quality I’m trying to get. I didn’t like the result. I didn’t have a lot of problem with “The Problem” in the rest of the painting either though. I think the soaking and the stretching solved a lot of it. It was a beautiful stretch job though – that paper was completely flat the entire time and came out that way with a neat crimped edge.

I threw a piece of 140 lb paper from my Canson block in the next night. It wasn’t long enough though so it didn’t reach the stretchers on the short ends. I did a quick non-tree painting with the new paints, mostly just playing around and trying some new things. I had buckling issues on the unsecured ends as expected. There’s no trace of “The Problem” with the 140 lb paper.

The lady who works with the 300 lb paper showed up that night. She didn’t know what “The Problem” was either, but she works very wet when painting. Nnnn. Actually, as I type this up I think I know what is going on here. In another post Weasel talked about problems painting on papers with sizing. I just remembered the other women mentioning a while back that she typically soaked her paper in the bathtub for an hour or so and then drying it out. Hmmm. Anyway, she gave me a sheet of another brand of paper to try – Kilimanjaro. It’s softer and smoother. I’m putting it into the frame now.

Well, that’s it folks! I’ll type at you later.