Monday, March 30
Thursday, March 26
Today I’m following up on my last blog, Art Blogging: A Learning Experience, with a little information on the science, nomenclature, and categorizing of colors, which I found to be informative, and I hope you do, too. For many artists, understanding color-- how to mix, capture, and create with it--is essential. However, as in life, there is often more to something than meets the eye, and that is the case with the art and science of color. Today’s Image is representative.
What got me onto this subject was the search for the meaning of the term quinacidrone, which I covered in the last blog. I also found out quinacidrone can be organic and synthetically obtained, although I didn’t find out how, and that, in addition to red (great reds, one site said) and violet, it also makes colors rose and magenta. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There is way, way more to learn about the science of color than this brief discussion could ever cover, but I hope you find it interesting enough to become better informed. I spent several hours online and found no one, specific site that tells you everything about it (at least not for free), but I did piece together a very basic understanding. Also, the industry uses the term color to cover pigments, used not only in making of paint (and a lot of other materials), but also in making dyes.
My first discovery was the site for the Color Index International (CI). There is always a professional group, society, or association for every consumable product, and for color there are two: Society of Dyers and Colourists and American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. The CI is, as stated on the site, “the definitive guide for anyone who needs to know details of which companies manufacture and distribute dyes and pigments, or for anyone looking for technical details of these products.” They don’t give out this information freely (or free, for that matter; you have to become a member and pay dues to be able to get the information). They do at least give you a sample of what you’ll get if you pay up.
The example provides the following technical information for what they call a “fingerprint” for each color (the example is for Pigment Yellow 1):
- Generic Name--their official name (I guess) of the color; e.g., CI Pigment Yellow 1 (not to be confused with the art-y name a manufacturer may give a color, such as sky blue light).
- Constitution Number--don’t know how they come up with it, though.
- Chemical Class—Monoazo (I think you have to be a chemist to know what this means, but I did recognize the “azo” part, which I’ve seen as the color Azo Yellow).
- Shade—Bright Yellow (even I can understand that).
- Discoverer—H. Wagner, 1909 (never heard of him or her).
- First Product—Hansa Yellow G (maybe Hansa was his or her first name?)
- CAS Number—Does not say what this is.
- EC Number—No clue on this number either.
- Classical Name—None listed for this one (how about Sunny Yellow!?).
- The chemical diagram--This is similar to the “chicken wire” diagrams you may remember from high-school chemistry.
Some of the above information appears on the manufacturer's product itself. And, comparing that information is the only sure-fire way to tell if two colors from different manufacturers are the same.
There’s so, so much more on this subject that I won’t attempt to cover it here. However, one website I found by David Myers is excellent. It’s The Color of Art: Pigment, Paints, and Formulas, and it gives a great overview about all of this (and more, such as opacity, light fastness rating, oil absorption, and toxicity).
About.com also has brief, but easy to understand, discussion about this on their site as well. You should check these out to learn more.
So, next time you shop for French Ultramarine Blue, just remember there's a whole lot more that went into that little tube of paint than you probably realize!
Monday, March 23
Here’s an example of that. One of the web tools gives search words used by the search engines (Google, Yahoo, or whatever) that link to the blog. The other day I noticed the search term “quinacidrone definition.”
OK, so I remembered it’s some kind of a color, but I certainly couldn’t tell you what it means. The word doesn’t roll right off your tongue either, you know. It sounds rather technical and something having to do with chemistry or something. In today’s blog, I’ll tell you how I finally found what it means.
So, I entered “quinacidrone” in Google search. Well, the first thing you get is a question, “do you mean quinhydrone?” I don’t think so. That was followed by links to the websites of all the paint manufacturers, such as Liquitex, Golden, Winsor & Newton, ColArt, and to sites on oil, acrylic, and gouache painting as well. There wasn’t even a link to the ubiquitous Wikipedia, and there’s always a link to that, so I’m beginning to think this has really got to be something obscure.
Surprisingly, on the second page of links was one to the OrbisPlanis. At least I had figured out how it was linked to my blog, but I still didn’t know what quinacidrone was. I then clicked on most of the manufacturers’ sites, but mostly found just a list of their paints with the word quinacidrone in the name. The other links just had the names of colors, too.
I then entered “quinacidrone definition” just as I had seen it before. Surprisingly, there were only six links, and, get this--the first link was to OrbisPlanis. The other links were similar to the first search, mostly names of colors with the word quinacidrone. There was one link about patents for European dyes that made no sense at all.
What to do. I tried entering “what is quinacidrone?” Guess what? OrbisPlanis came up first again. That’s just weird. The other links also had the names of colors, but there were also links to Wagon Train on Flickr and The Birth of Venus—don't ask, I have no idea.
I searched on “artist pigments.” Well, that opened up whole new avenues to search. There are too many to cover, but for example, one was to a pigment manufacturer Sinopia—I didn’t even know there were pigment manufacturers. Another was to Pigments Through the Ages—but when I entered “quinacidrone” on the site--nothing. But it's a very interesting site anyway; if you have the chance, check it out.
To make a long story short, I honestly can't recall how I stumbled upon the link to quinacidrone in the Britannica Online Encyclopedia with the definition. I must have entered at least 25 search strings before I finally found it.
I immediately added it to the Artist Factoids section of my blog so everyone could know.
In the next OrbisPlanis, I’ll tell you what I found out about quinacidrone and even more interesting, about the Color (or Colour) Index International.
Thursday, March 19
More blog than art today.
I thought I’d give a brief update on my Twitter experience since today marks three weeks since I’ve “joined” (or whatever you call it).
I started with 0 (zero) followers and I now have 13 followers. Is that good news? I don’t know. Is that an unlucky number—probably not. I am following 24 “Tweeters” (or whatever you call them).
For those who don’t know what (the hell) I’m talking about, Twitter is an online service that’s sort of a cross between instant messaging (IM) and a blog.
At least that’s how someone described it, so I’ll go with that. You set up your profile, then you send messages (tweets) out to your followers or whomever may happen to find you on Twitter.
Your tweets are limited to 140 characters; sometimes people forget and their tweets get truncat..
You find new people to follow by looking at their list of followers and begin following them (those on the list). Sounds confusing, but that’s how it works (easy to figure out).
Or you can let Twitter find people to follow by looking at the Suggested Users tab under Find People. That’s how I found Brent Spiner of Star Trek TNG, who just happened to be in the same high school graduating class as I. He has more than 70,000 followers—wow.
Some people send too many tweets, like every five minutes or so--just not that interesting usually. You can stop following anyone at any time with just a click; and you can stop (“block”) someone from following you if you want to.
Here’s a sample of a couple of recent tweets from some of those I’m following:
“Antarctic ice sheet nears melting tipping point.”
“Listening to Benny Goodman.”
Hardly what I consider riveting. Here is one from NPR on Twitter that is at least a little informational:
“On this day in 1974, Buckley is first Rightwing to split from Nixon.” Maybe not so riveting either.
I’ve been sending tweets mostly about art and what art thing I’m doing that day. I send very few tweets in a day, usually one or two. I plan to branch out, so today I tweeted about the South by Southwest (SWSX) live music festival currently going on in Austin, Texas, USA.
I started following Joel Stein today (joelastein on Twitter). I like his irreverent and what I think are funny, funny columns in TIME Magazine. He has 14 followers, but he hasn’t sent one tweet (as of today).
Oh well, I’ll keep tweeting and see what can happen in 140 characters.
Monday, March 16
Thursday, March 12
Spring Break is starting around the US, and the actual beginning of Spring is next week in the northern hemisphere. To honor the ritual of spring cleaning, today’s blog is on cleaning up your act; that is, cleaning out your art supplies and/or art studio.
I don’t know about you, but that’s one chore I tend to put off as long as possible. I like to have all the art supplies I need (or think I need anyway) on hand for any type of artwork that I could possibly undertake. That means I have drawers for:
- Pencils (all the HB numbers, of course) and markers (more than 100 colors!)
- Pastels (soft, hard, semi-hard, and oil)
- Watercolors (a limited palette of Daler-Rowneys in addition to a ‘grade school’ quality tin)
- All kinds of paper and tablets of paper for any and all occasions, many of which I have not yet undertaken and, truth be told, may never undertake (newsprint, drawing pads, acrylic, watercolor, markers, tracing—you name, I’ve got paper for it)
- Gels, mediums, retarder, varnishes--in matte, gloss, and satin finsihes
- Paint brushes, brushes, brushes, brushes
- Oil paint (a pretty complete palette but underutilized)
- Acrylics (my favorite medium and the one that needs most attention)
Then there are all the canvases stacked up and around that you forgot you had, so you bought some more. There are also the canvases that you’ve already painted but didn’t like the result, so you stuck them back “there” somewhere out of the way.
When I recently looked in my art supply drawers (my art studio is a portable, rolling stack of drawers), I was surprised how much “junk” there was that I had let accumulate. I understand why I, and probably you, too, let this happen. I like to tell myself it’s because my art is so important that I’ve got to get to it immediately. I like to tell myself I’ll straighten up that drawer tomorrow (or next week).
What actually happens is that I only get around to it when I go looking for that specific tube of cerulean blue paint, that rigger somewhere in the brushes, that 140-lb acrylic paper, and can't find it. It was right there last time I looked, but where is it now?
Only then, in desperation, do I give in to the big clean-up. I suggest at least once a year, and twice is better, of course, you go through your art supplies and cull out the really old, the used up, the dried up and dried out, the torn and tattered, the stained, and the beyond repair. Don’t forget, however, that pastels can be wiped off as good as new; pencils can be sharpened; canvases can be gesso’d.
Really put yourself into the task. Make those hard decisions. If you’re not sure, toss it, or better, donate it to an artist who may really need it. This, of course, is easier said than done. Like straightening up your house, cleaning out your art supplies or art studio is one of those things we don’t really want or like to do anyway, and especially when we’re told we need to do it. But if you schedule a morning or afternoon ahead of time so you can get used to the idea, then I think you’ll feel better about it.
To throw in a cliché or two, I “bit the bullet” and “put my nose to the grindstone” and “rolled up my sleeves” and “dug in” and cleaned up the place.
There, I feel better except for Today’s Image, which is a photo of my acrylic paint drawer—AFTER I cleaned it out. Oh well, the big fall clean-up is only six months away.
Monday, March 9
If you’re like me, you may have art on your mind or at least keep it running in the back of your mind. I'm always alert to seeing, hearing, reading, or viewing--in the real world or online--information about art.
I have also signed up to receive emails from several art museums, art centers, art collections, and art galleries in my area, such as the Art League, Museum of Fine Art, Contemporary Art Museum, School of Art, and several local art centers and art galleries. For example, at The Lawndale Art Center here I receive a monthly update of upcoming exhibits. I suggest you sign up to receive emails from groups and art centers in your area, too. It's a great way to keep informed of new exhibits, openings, and other events coming to your area.
And since I’m already online reading emails, I also check my blog (this one) to see how many are finding their way to it and if there are any comments. I also may check a few online art sites, which I have tagged as favorites, to find out what may be happening elsewhere in the art world. I’m not endorsing any sites, but, for example, there’s Art Slant and Artinfo (and many, many others I’m sure) with news and information on the latest art events.
Another way that may be interesting to keep up with art and artists is with Twitter, for which I only recently signed up. Without going into too much detail, Twitter is way for you to follow other twitterers or for other twitterers to follow you. You send “tweets,” which are basically instant messages of 140 characters or less. What I want to do is keep up with other artists, although there may be other followers as well. I’ll let you know how it's going.
After I read my emails, visit some of my favorite art sites, and maybe even send a “tweet, ” I’m all revved up to begin or continue with whatever painting I’m working on that day. It gets my juices flowing, and I’m in a creative state of mind to do my best work.
So, that is how I start my art day, and I hope this provides encouragement to you. As Henri Matisse said, “creativity takes courage.”
Monday, March 2
This lesson features a sunset on the Pacific coast not far from Los Angeles, California, USA. It was taken from a personal photo (see top photo). Today’s Image (second above) is my acrylic painted from the photo.
I completed this painting in about six hours over two consecutive days, and that does not include varnishing. As I said in the first lesson, don’t feel like you have to follow these steps exactly; do them in the order that’s right for you. Also, you may be able to render your painting in more or less time than I.
The first four steps are, and probably will continue to be, the same for every lesson because they are the preliminary steps for most paintings.
Step 6 – Mix the colors for the sunset and paint that part of the sky—it should be a salmon-pink color, but not too bright, and with a couple of shades of light and dark; paint the area around and above the sun using broad, diagonal stokes; let the sunset colors interleave the dusk colors like the rays of the sun; add a few strokes of darker salmon-pink shades above the sun and near the top for some contrast.