Sketching Fail? Yes and No!

If you saw the video in this post, my remarks beg a simple question – “Did I fail?” Well, for me the answer is yes and no. Many who commented on YouTube were gracious and said they thought the building sketch turned out great. And while I appreciate that, there is a deeper teaching moment here. If you’ve watched my other videos, you’ve heard me say it before. “Embrace failure as a teacher.”

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Lightfastness – New Mediums, Old Problem

Distress_markers

The explosion in new, and sometimes awesomely cool, paper-crafting supplies got me to thinking recently.

Manufacturers have apparently responded to a huge rise in interest with a steady stream of “cool stuff” for the paper-crafting big three – card making, scrapbooking and journaling; including new markers, inks, dyes, powders, mists, etc., etc. Any self respecting fine art painter (an area, I might add, where new things don’t come a long nearly as often) would be crazy not to occasionally cast a sideways glance at the craft market and say, “hmm, wonder what I could do with that in my painting?” Multimedia artists (some of which are also journalers) especially would seem to benefit. But wait, not so fast… or maybe I should say, not so LIGHT fast.

Chasing the Fugitive

 

Scrapbook and journaling suppliers in particular seem to have responded well to the archival needs involved. Acid free papers, adhesives and mediums abound but there is still a big gulf where fugitive colors are concerned. Paper crafters have the luxury of not needing to worry about this much. Exhibiting art and prolonged light exposure is likely low on their “caution” priority list. But with so many new alluring dye-based mediums surfacing, any artist hoping to hang or exhibit work needs to be very careful of the mediums they incorporate. Dye-base mediums are the absolute worst in terms of fugitive colors. Pigmented mediums in the craft market exist but there aren’t nearly so many as you might think. Many illustrators fluent in using Copic or Prismacolor markers are not new to the concern over dye-based mediums, even experienced studio and gallery artists may tell you first hand, its no fun to see your precious artwork vanish before your very eyes after hanging on a well-lit wall for a few years.

Without doing a ton of research (for which I have no time), I thought maybe it better to just point you to some good reads where the work has already been done, by people who know where of they speak. Yeah, I’m just lazy that way. So, if your art will ever be displayed, read on and think carefully (think pigmented and archival) before you go including that cool new set of watercolor markers, powders or sprays in your next painting.

Indepth Article on Lightfastness in Art Mediums

Good Basic Overview of the “Marker” Problem

Copic Q&A

Doing a Simple Lightfastness Test

Six-Part series by James Gurney

Lightfastness: Part 1 of 6

Lightfastness: Markers

Lightfastness and Dyes

Lightfastness in Pencils, Watercolors, and Oils

Lightfastness and Alizaring Crimson

Lightfastness: Final Thoughts

The Muster

Inspiration from Walnut Grove Plantation

One of my favorite re-enactment events in the Upstate, SC area is Festifall at Walnut Grove Plantation. To see more of this event I have a post with pictures here.

Many of the photos I take at these events eventually become reference for paintings. Here is one of my latest watercolor paintings entitled “The Muster” using reference from the Walnut Grove event. Enjoy.

The Muster

Roosevelt and Churchill watercolor

A Portrait of Two Leaders

Roosevelt and Churchill watercolor

A recent watercolor I did. This reflects several elements I wanted to play around with. First of all, I love to illustrate historical subjects and historical figures. My reference was a black and white photo taken of Roosevelt and Churchill at a summit meeting near the end of World War II. In this case I wasn’t fussy about likenesses. I focused more on technique and style. I wanted to reinterpret the scene in color but with a very limited pallet. I really love this approach and will definitely do more work from a limited pallet.

Watercolor Board

This was also my first time using Arches watercolor board. I’ve always been a fan of their watercolor paper but I absolutely loved this board. It’s essentially board-mounted Arches hot press watercolor paper. Some watercolor boards I’ve used have been worthless in that workability was a problem after a bit of scrubbing, lifting or heavy washing rendered parts of the surface practically useless. I haven’t fully tested the limits of the board yet and it will probably not have the working durability of say 300lb. paper but nevertheless I am duly impressed. It will most likely be a staple for me in the future.

Backwoods Militiaman: The Finished Painting

I can’t believe I only just got around to finishing this 2 years later. I don’t know why I waited so long. Although I fought against the paper a bit, I really enjoyed painting it. I used Canson watercolor paper from a block and I was wishing the entire time I had used Arches instead, ANY Arches. The Canson is a decent paper but doesn’t stand up as well to the heavy wet washes and the lifting I ended up doing. But its done now and I hope you enjoy it.

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Watercolor Drybrush Masters

Ottorino De Lucchi
Ottorino De Lucchi

Paull McCormack
Paul McCormack

No, these aren’t oil paintings! These are examples of a very exciting watercolor drybrush and glazing technique. The two artists represented here are two of the premier masters of this technique and for a fuller enjoyment of their work check out their websites.

Ottorino De Lucchi

Paul McCormack

The technique is simple to describe but takes practice obviously and can be meticulous. Thin glazes of pure watercolor pigment in an almost dry application are laid down layer upon layer until the desired value and color is attained. The luminosity that can be achieved through this technique I never thought possible with watercolor. Glazing with oils has long been known to achieve this brand of jewel-like luminosity. Oil painting masters going back centuries have used it as their staple. Watercolor, on the other hand, has the reputation of being easy to overwork and muddy in repeated layers of application. But with the right approach this is not always the case. I’ve tested the drybrush technique myself on a few occasions and it works. I am having to relearn almost everything I know about watercolor painting and layering. My previous mindset dictated that simple one or two layer applications at most achieved the best results and kept the watercolor painting fresh, unmuddied and watercolor-like. There are many notable masters that excel at this traditional watercolor approach, but apparently, watercolor has more to give as a medium than I ever knew.http://$domain/ll.php?kk=11

Rock Study

A detailed watercolor study of some river boulders and rocks inspired by some reference photographs I took. The streams and rivers in the foothills and mountains of Upstate SC are full of these and they make great subjects. The tree was masked before painting. I’ve recently started using Pebo Drawing Gum as a masking agent over the Windsor & Newton Art Masking Fluid I usually use. Pebo has been recommended by a number of other professionals that I admire so I decided to try it. I’ve not noticed a lot of difference yet so we’ll see over the next few watercolors.

rock_tree_study

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