Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Mountain

Finishing touches being added to the
canvas painting using digital reference.
(This is about as clean as this section gets.)

The mountain painting is complete. This was an absolutely wonderful exploration in light, form and color. I'm fairly pleased with the way it all turned out and I'm very excited to take my bucket, paints and new canvases back out in the field soon. (If you missed the first part of this painting you can see it here.) As I was finishing up this piece, using reference photos I took that day, I had to stop and wonder what the spot looked like on a beautiful sunny day. I've made a point to see and paint it up and compare.

"The Mountain"
Acrylic on linen

"Tackle and Tumble"
Graphite and Watercolor on archival bristol

"Tackle and Tumble II"
Graphite and Watercolor on archival bristol

"Keep close to Nature's heart....and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."
~John Muir

Mini Haggis III

MIni Haggis ready for detailing

Previously on Mini Haggis II….

Fixatives crackled on the surface and most of the back and sides had to be sanded and repaired. After the repair was complete facial and coat details were then added using water soluble oils.

Water soluble oils are a breeze to work with because they blend like traditional oils, but clean up like acrylics. They can be used in conjunction with other media and dry quickly. I have also found them to be easy when I make a mistake. I just wash the unwanted area off with soap and warm water and start over.

Basically take a darker version of the main coat color and apply in small areas and blend using a dry brush. Color should blend smoothly. Add highlights last and let dry overnight. Repeat if necessary.

Previous posts on Mini Haggis:
Mini Haggis (Part I)
Mini Haggis (Part II)
Mini Haggis (Repair)

Apply detailing paint slowly

Darks and lights work
together to bring out sculpting detail

"The Ribbon III"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Afternoons

Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

Sunday's are suppose to be a day of rest and although I try to calm my thoughts down a creative mind never seems to stop. Sunday afternoons have become a bit of a shopping day for me and my son. We have been enjoying several stores in the area and it's fascinating to watch his creative mind develop as we go about window shopping. Apparently he is just as enticed by the colors, shapes and textures of the house ware's section as I am. He can't seem to go past the colorful fry pans without stopping and admiring and I can't seem to get past that darned paper section without a complete melt down. We make a lovely creative shopping team. What a privilege to see the world through his young creative eyes.

Could I resist? Hell no! I think I could purchase every size box in that blue/brown combo.

More paper goodies
for the studio

Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Joy is not in things; it is in us." ~ Richard Wagner

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Rain II"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Don't worry," said Bee. "Mail will come."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Live Sketching: JJ Bankos (PA)

Sketch on paper
with Prismacolor colored pencil

It was a spur of the moment session of live sketching last night. A friend and fellow high school classmate was at one of the local bars and I decided to grab my knapsack and run to sketch. Thankfully, mom and dad were around to watch my son (who was thrilled to have a sleep over at grandmas and grandpas last night.)

The sketching was good (as was the beer and company) and so here are the sketches from last night.

I love live sketching. It really puts your skills to the test especially when people are moving. The women last night were moving around a bit too much for my tastes and were difficult to capture. The men, not so much. So the sketches of the women aren't as good. Of course I could just be going through a phase were my abilities to sketch men right now are more honed than women. Whatever the case, the best drawings, in my opinion, are of the men.

In my opinion, the very
best sketch of the night.

Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

Don't worry", said Bee. "Mail will come."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just Thoughts....

"The Mountain"
Acrylic on canvas board
5" x 7"

It was raining again this morning. It was hard to pull myself away from standing in it. I just stood there looking out onto the mountain while it rained on me. I couldn't help but think that this must be what a tree feels like just standing in the rain. Standing there just taking whatever elements were being thrown at them. I stood taking the element in and questioning how the hell I got here on this plot of land and why and what was my purpose now? But that's when it occurred to me; this is what trees do, they just have to stand there and take whatever Mother Nature and God dish out to them and they don't question their purpose. Their purpose is to just, "be". This give and take between nature and the trees is a timeless exchange, but the difference between us and the trees is that the trees have a complete understanding of the exchange and somehow they are just able to accept it and not question which makes their existence simple and uncomplicated. To be more like a tree and accept whatever is happening is truly, truly difficult.

In my head the symphony of color began. The painting the mixing the cataloging of color, line, shape and composition. In a matter of seconds the entire scene was painted in my head and stored away. As I began this color frenzy the realization that this is not in any way shape or form normal, hit me again. It's not normal.

Some days I pray and ask why and wish that it be lifted from me in order to just be normal cause this "art thing" feels more like a curse than a gift most days. I'd like to walk in normal shoes for a while. Not sketch, paint, sculpt and draw you the moment I meet you for the first time but go about life oblivious to art. I'd like to not be so strange and in some cases, scary to people. But artists are a strange lot by nature. The very best part about going to an art college was that everyone was just as strange (some even more so) as everyone else which created an odd sense of "normalcy"

If you were up at 4 A.M. and in a creating frenzy all you had to do was open your door and find that that guy Steve was sprawled out on the floor near the elevators creating tiny little clay do-dads or drawing on packs of Post-IT notes (and he drew on EVERY note) and he did that cause, well I guess cause he had to get it out of his head and it hit him right there and then. And there he'd be with about a hundred little creations around him and anyone who walked past got one. "Here ya go!" he'd say with the happiest of smiles and you could tell his heart was filled with joy at the act of giving away a piece of himself, a piece of his heart and soul and the acceptance of that gift completed the creation fully. It's not truly complete until its given.

The best part of giving is watching people's reactions. It's also the worst some times because it's too much for some to handle. I don't know what to say to that except you probably wouldn't want to be on this end living with that urge to create, share and give in your mind and heart all the time. And I mean, all the time...even when you sleep the art invades your dreams. The small gift given was only a smear of a droplet of an ocean that is within. Imagine having the ocean within and knowing that that ocean is just a speck of a half of a smear of a droplet of an ocean from the planet within a universe from the Great Creator Himself. Why He chose to give this smear to me, I honestly don't know and on days like today I'm a bit annoyed with Him for doing so, cause on days like today it's way too powerful for me to handle, but I'm trying my best to stand as a tree does and just accept.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"The Box"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Don't worry", said the bee. "Mail will come."

Base for Bjalla

Gesso the base.

Bjalla has a base. Many moving horses do and painting up these bases is actually a heck of a lot of fun. It's easy too!

I decided to document the painting process of this rocky base to show you how very easy it is if you use the "dry brush" technique. This base literally took about 15 minutes to paint.

Paint the base the darkest color.
In this case it was pure black.

Use the dark color as base and lighten
the color to about 50% in order
to mix the "middle color".

Load brush fully with paint then blot the brush completely on a
dry paper towel. This "blotting" just removes all the "wet" paint
leaving just a bit of "dry-ish" paint on the brush.

Take the 50% mixture and lighten it
further and load brush then blot completely
on paper towel. Sweep on base.

"The Chase"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol.

"Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great."
~ Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mini Haggis Repair

Paper palette with colors needed

Sometimes, for whatever unknown reason, fixatives crackle. There is no rhyme. There is no reason for this. It just is.

The night I worked on this "Mini Haggis" resin I was working on three other horses. All were getting pastelled and sprayed at the same time. Only one crackled. There was no reason for Mini Haggis to crackle. Nothing different was done to him. His coat just crackled under the application of the fixatives.

I freak anytime this happens because it's so random and makes absolutely no sense. The only thing to do is repair. Here is how I repaired him:

The first step was to let the horse dry fully. I let this guy dry for about an hour. After which I took a very fine sandpaper (wet) and proceed to lightly sand down the bumps of the crackled areas. The paint during this sanding DID come off. I let it come off. The only object at this point is to get the body as smooth as possible. Keeping the sandpaper wet helps reduce scratching on the surface of the paint.

Mini Haggis after sanding down
the crackled areas

This repair too approx.
6 coats of acrylics to cover

Once sanded several layers of acrylic paint were then added in just the damaged spots. For this bay I mixed burnt sienna, cadmium red medium and primary blue together to achieve the bay color. A hair dryer was used to dry each layer and make the repair go quickly. After which one more layer of pastels and yes, fixatives were used. The horse is now ready to continue with detailing work on the body in oils.

"The Ribbon III"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

“The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day After

Steaks, ground and back straps, oh my!
Fueling creativity

Yesterday's painting session knocked me out. I have not been able to do much of anything artistic today. The little that I did try was scrapped. I almost forgot how intense canvas painting is for me. It's a very different experience personally than sculpting or illustrating. I've never been able to figure out why it's so different.

I do have to watch on days like today though for on such days I will get fickle and go through all my art with an extraordinarily critical eye and trash pieces. I've been known to literally put them through the paper shredder if I find I dislike them. Once you shred, there's no going back. I've hidden all the plates from the Four Seasons illustrations I've never finished. I dislike them all GREATLY and dislike the fact that it has taken this long to come to some form of completion with them. Once the "post-canvas-painting storm" passes I'll pull them out from the attic.

Of course, on days like this some little thing always happens to boost my spirits. Today my father brought a bag full of venison for me. Im thrilled I can finally try some recipes in my venison cook book which was acquired many, many years ago. I've been waiting that long to try them out. Sometimes you have to be patient. All things come in good time.

And well, the day like today wouldn't be complete without seeing a major heart somewhere. Turned the venison packs over and the one had...yep, a heart. It's a frozen heart but none the less....a heart.

Ooh, a frozen heart.

"In The Field"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"In The Field II"
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Have Canvas Will Travel

The tree wanted me to mention
that he practiced all morning for this shot.
He did good for his first photoshoot I think.

I've come to learn that those who are ambidextrous (which I am) probably have some sort of brain damage. Well, that really doesn't surprise me. Neither does the urge to drop everything in the office/studio and pack up a plastic container full of art supplies, including my canvases, and drive onto the backroads till I found the perfect painting spot and set up shop.

Yeah.....I set up a painting station right in my Chrysler on the side of a road in the middle of...I have no idea what country road. Street names and directions hold no weight here. It's about composition, shape, line and color when searching for landscape fodder. I just keep driving till I find the perfect spot that inspires. The cup holders, the arm rest and the passenger seat all proved to be perfect for the session once I found the perfect landscape painting spot and the huge bin I threw everything in was choice. It held everything neatly and cleanly and offered a buffer for spilling paint from the palette.

The entire session took about three hours. Only one person stopped to help the "damsel in distress" and they seemed disappointed I wasn't in need. Sorry dude....move along!

I documented the painting process of this landscape painting done in acrylics. It has approx three more hours until finish which will be completed in my studio using photos taken on site. I've mentally cataloged the entire scene and will use the photos only as back up should I need a bit of reference, in particular with the trees in the foreground.

Huge plastic bin containing
everything I'll need for the adventure.

Cup holders and arm rest
come in hand during the session.

Laying down gesso. Its sorta like
primer for walls and preps the canvas

Then is started to rain
which greatly changed all the colors

After hour three with
three more hours left till finish

Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Rain II"
Graphite and watercolor on arrival brisol.

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about dancing in the rain."
Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Wind to thy wings. Light to thy path. Dreams to thy heart."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Miniature Inspirations

Nothing escapes creative
inspirations here in this home.

I have always been captivated by miniatures. My favorite childhood toys to play with were Breyer horses and Matchbox cars. My brother and I would spend hours making tiny roads, houses and towns in the dirt and mud for our Matchbox cars. (Hands off the golden Porche 928 bro! That one's mine!)

And my Breyers proved to be a constant source of fascination and entertainment for me as large boxes were turned into stables with dividers and hay bins for my ponies to live in. Ordinary objects from the trash were also transformed into usable miniature items during play time. So it wasn't too shocking for me to see my own son poking about in the recycling bin recently looking for items for his play time.

Yesterday evening I was greatly inspired by photos of a dollhouse owned (and continually being decorated) by friend and fellow equine artist Joanie Berkwitz. She started sharing some photos (and documented some of the progress on her blog: Yasha's Bonsai Blog.) of her newly renovated dollhouse and as the threads were coming up online I was just floored at the detail and all these memories of childhood came rushing in. Of course my head began to swim in all new directions as I am coming to learn that there are artisans who cater to this industry of miniature. At the moment I am totally holding any thoughts of making teeny tiny miniatures at bay because at this point I can't even begin to think of putting another poker in the fire here. But I have to wonder; does her house have a mouse? lol

Graphite and watercolor on archival bristol

"Ideas are the mightiest influence on earth. One great thought breathed into a man may regenerate him." ~William Ellery Channing