Tuesday, December 27

A Happy Painter

If you received any artful gifts during this season of light and giving, I hope you are as pleased as I am.

For one, it is wonderful to have family who indulges me in my interest in painting by selecting gifts that I will not only use but thoroughly enjoy.

I received two books, a DVD, a paint set, not one but two calendars, and a gift certificate to my local art supply store:

-The Watercolorist’s Answer Book edited by Gina Rath

-Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett

-Big Brush Watercolour DVD by Ron Ranson

-12-color Pan Watercolor Paint set

-Georgia O’Keeffe 2012 calendar

-Impressionism 2012 calendar

-Jerry’s Artarama gift certificate

If you participated in any gift-giving or gift-receiving, I hope you were as fortunate as I.

Happy Painting!

Sunday, December 18

Red and Green

Several Mixes of Red and Green
Red and green is a very popular color combination in many parts of the world this time of year. Depending on which online site you visit, you get a variety of reasons about the origins of the popularity of these colors. Whatever the reasons, it's clear that over the centuries red and green have come to symbolize a season.

For the artist, however, the combination of red and green can have a different meaning, and not just at this time of year.

For the painter it’s not just the two colors per se, but rather the combination of the two when mixed together.

Because they are opposite each other on the color wheel (with green being, of course, a mixture of blue and yellow), the two colors are considered complementary, which is why together they make a pleasing combination to the eye.

Perhaps even more importantly for the painter, red and green can be mixed to make many “darks” from which the painter can choose, depending on which red and which green is mixed. The number of darks available is equal to the vast number of possible combinations of reds and greens (not exponential but a fairly large number anyway).

Depending on which red and green are chosen, the combination can be a rich, warm dark or a steely, cool dark.  The redder the mixture, the warmer the color will be, and the greener (bluer really) the mixture, the cooler.

In addition, rather than using a tube black, I prefer mixing red and green to produce the warm or cool black needed for your painting. Preferably the black would be mixed from the same red, blue, and yellow in your palette to provide greater harmony in your painting.

Today’s image shows a few examples of the darks you can achieve just by mixing four different reds and greens. With just these four alone, you could also produce 12 additional darks. From top to bottom, they are:

Alizarin Crimson + Viridian

Cadmium Red Medium + Pthalo Green

Carmine + Chromium Oxide Green

Mars Violet + Hookers Green

 Happy Red and Green Painting!

Monday, December 12

A Mood for Still Life

Nothing better than a gray, overcast day to put me in the mood to paint a still life.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it seems still lifes are almost always indoors. They’re not, of course, but it seems many motifs are food on a kitchen/dining  counter or simply a tabletop with vase and flowers.

Maybe it’s the lighting on a dreary day that matches the quiet, somber mood of many still lifes.

The gauzy, shadowy lighting, which envelops rather than glares, may also be a reason.

Being chilly and damp helps a lot, too. The growing-shorter days and limited hours of light-to-paint-by add a more dramatic mood setting.

Makes me want to pull out a bowl along with some eggs (or grapes or fish or fowl) and whatever else, all on a countertop to paint a scene.

Either that or a porcelain vase filled with a flower in season, blue, of course,  set against a tapestry wall-hanging.

Now that’s the stuff of still-life painting on a late-autumn or winter day.

Happy Painting!

Monday, December 5

Be True to Your Art Self

I’m learning a painter should strive to be true to himself or herself.

I say this because I am always in the learning mode, and by that I mean I am always looking at, studying, reading up on, or trying out what other painters do or say you should do, supposedly to be a successful painter such as themselves.

At some point, however, and I’m not saying I have reached that point just yet, a painter must take a stand with his or her style, technique, palette, way of doing things, or whatever.

In a sort of Catch-22 way, a painter must be what he or she must be. If a painter studies and mimics and paints just like another painter, that’s all well and good. But at some point shouldn’t they say enough is enough? When have they relegated their own talent to nothing but a fond memory because they want to paint like Paul Klee or Clyfford Still or Grant Wood or whomever?
I doubt Picasso or Sargent ever gave many lessons.

So, when is your style, your style? When is your technique, your technique? When is your palette, your palette? You get the picture.

Stardom or even acknowledgment in painting is rare and seldom for almost every painter.

But to tie this up in a neat bow, is that what we painters are looking for—acclaim and celebrity? I like to think not, but it’s usually back there somewhere as I paint—“will this be the one that breaks out for me and achieves acceptance (stardom!) on a broad scale?”

What if it is or if it is not? Does it matter? Or can I just be true to myself and my paintings?

I’m trying.

(Happy Painting.)  

Friday, December 2

Exercise Your Imagination

(from a parade of Art Cars)
Although I know better, I tend to think of painting as the primary way of creating art.

 Certainly that is not true, and museums, galleries, and city streets are full of proof to the contrary. Drawing, sculpture, collage, installation or street art is pretty much equally represented.

So when I visit one of those art places or view art that may be considered public or see art anywhere for everyone’s consumption, I am reminded that art can be open-ended and inclusive and imaginative.

Every once in a while I will think about creating some other kind of creative work. I’ll see a piece of something in the garage that was leftover from some project or purpose and think, that could be thought-provoking or interesting or even beautiful.

Some odd pieces of Lexan, stray coils of copper wiring, sample chips of Formica, some steel wool all become ingredients for an artwork. I will putter and piece together a prototype of something that may make an interesting shape or a light-catching form, to me anyway.

In my mind it becomes a standalone centerpiece in a park or a slowly revolving mobile greeting visitors to a public display of art.

And why not? Imagination is the germ that triggers us to create in all sorts of ways. “They” say imagination needs to be exercised like a muscle to stay in shape. I admit that I don’t give mine enough exercise on a regular basis.

Perhaps I limit myself too much. I think in painterly, two-dimensional works of art. I think in terms of value and color and contrast. I usually like to stick to paper and canvas and acrylic and watercolor.

But on the days when I venture out to tinker with other possible art forms, when I am giving my imagination a good work-out, on those days I am not limiting myself.

I hope you aren’t either.

Happy Painting and Creating.

Monday, November 28

Art is Art

To Be Or Not To Be
Art is whatever it wants to be.

Art can but does not necessarily have to make you feel bad or feel good or feel any emotion.

Art is what you make of it.

Art is what you want it to be.

Art can be profound.

Art can be absurd.

Art can be worthless.

Art can be monumental.

Art is created by humans for humans.

Art lives in its own reality but not necessarily your reality.

Art does not have to have a message

Art does not have to send a message.

 Art is art.

(Happy Painting.)

Tuesday, November 22

Select Your Own Color Palette

I don’t know if you do this, but I am always interested in other artist’s color palettes.

I know the reason why, too. It’s because if I like a painter’s work, then I want to know how they achieve their good outcomes. That means not only their style and technique, but also the colors they use.

 I’m always looking online or in books for a list of colors in so-and-so’s color palette. I think that if I use their colors, then my paintings will look like theirs.

There are two flaws in my thinking, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

One—just because I have researched and stocked up on each color in Monet’s palette (both his early and late period no less) does not mean any of my paintings will come close to the beauty of Monet’s. Oh, I wish that were the case, but reality has a way of bringing me back down to earth. And if all painters were using a limited number of color palettes based on what has already been painted, well, wouldn’t that be stifling.

Two—by “copying” some other painter’s palette, I have thrown my own native ability, not to mention creativity, under the bus (as they say), and why would I, or anyone, choose to do that. Indeed.

Yes, I have several lists of colors from several painters I really admire, and I have tried using their palettes in my paintings. But you know what? It just doesn’t work that way. Using their exact colors doesn’t equal a successful painting painted by me. Probably not for you either.

 So, at least I have admitted to this, and I think that’s the first step in making a change.

What I have found, happily, is that there are colors that I really like in my paintings and that I find myself using again and again. That is, I am in the slow process of winnowing down my color choices to a manageable few. Although I don’t know what number of colors that will eventually be, I do know that I am enjoying the process.

 I also know this is not a one-time thing. I understand that my palette may change over time with my artistic needs, and that is as it should be.

Just to give you one example of a recent choice, the more I use Lemon Yellow, the more I really like its brightness and versatility. It's on my list for now.

Happy Painting!

Friday, November 18

Finding Inspiration - Always A Surprise

Inspiration--From Where Does It Come?
It always happens unexpectedly. I almost never anticipate it. It happened again yesterday. What, you may ask.


I never know where it will come from or when it will happen. That's what makes it even much more, well, inspirational.

Like fog in Robert Frost’s well-known poem, Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening, “It comes on little cat feet.”

That is, it sneaks up on me, and I don’t realize it, but it happened again yesterday. I was at a local art supply store to shop for some supplies and spend a generous gift certificate. I was in no hurry for a change, and took my own sweet time going up and down the aisles.

I stopped at the watercolor aisle and spent time looking over the various brands and individual colors as well as the pre-packaged sets to figure out what, if anything, I needed. I decided my own method for acquiring paint is still the best—buy what you need when you need it a good price, and don’t’ be afraid to try new colors and brands.

Something about staring at all those colors made me start to imagine the great paintings I will paint with these watercolors and how I will use them and how I will put paint to paper.

 Inspiration started to gain momentum.

 I made my way over to the paper department. There were shelves and stacks and bins of all kinds of paper. I perused a whole section of single-sheets in all weights and finishes. In addition, there was a whole aisle of paper in all sizes in both tablets and blocks, ready to take home and use.

I evaluated the full-sheet sizes of watercolor paper in both 140-lb (300gsm) and 300-lb (640 gsm) weights. What paintings I will paint with these full sheets!

I moved to the section with paper in tablets and blocks. The more sheets in a tablet and/or block, the less cost per sheet. How many paintings I will paint with all those sheets!

Ah inspiration. Now I'm painting with the best of them--Monet and Hopper and Wyeth--in my mind anyway, and that's really all that matters to me.

Happy Painting!

Monday, November 14

Happy Birthday Claude Monet

My Acrylic Tribute to Impressionsim,
The Boardwalk at Port Royal
(Copyright 2010)
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you.

In honor of this occasion, here is a very brief chronology of the great painter’s life:

Oscar Claude Monet is born November 14, 1840, in Paris to Claude and Louise Monet.

The family moves to Le Havre and Claude studies art with a local artist in the 1850s, and as a teenager becomes somewhat known for his caricatures.

Monet learns to paint en plein air with Eugene Boudin in Le Havre.

Monet commits to becoming a painter and moves to Paris in 1859.

After a stint in the French military in Algiers, Monet enrolls in the Charles Gleyre art studio in 1862 and meets Frederic Bazille, August Renoir, and Alfred Sisley.

Monet paints Woman in A Green Dress in 1866, a painting of his girlfriend, Camille.

Monet’s outdoor paintings of pretty people and landscapes with shimmering light hint of things to come; his son Jean is born in 1867.

Even though Monet produces paintings, such as The Magpie and Bathers at La Grenouillere, he goes through a period of rejection and paints at several towns along the Seine.

Claude and Camille are married in 1870 and honeymoon in Trouville where he paints beach and hotel scenes; they move to Argenteuil in 1871 and Monet continues painting landscapes and light.

In 1873 Monet paints Impression Sunrise at the port of LeHavre, which ultimately gives Impressionism its name.

Monet and several painters split from the conservative Salon and form their own painting society in 1874 with the First Impressionist Exhibition. Durand-Ruel becomes a business partner with his gallery and exhibitions.

The Second Impressionist Exhibition is held in 1876, including Monet’s The Bridge at Argenteuil; a third exhibition is held in 1877 and a fourth in 1879.  

Michel, a second son, is born to Camille and Claude in 1878. Camille dies in 1879.

During this time Monet has befriended the Hoschede family in Vetheuil, and after Camille’s death the two families live together with Alice helping rear Monet’s children along with her own.

Monet and family move to Giverny in 1883.

Although Monet and Impressionism reach a level of success in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the group is strained, and Monet paints on his own at various locations in the French countryside and along the English Channel; by 1886, the original movement has matured, and whatever affiliation the group had has ended.
Claude and Alice marry in 1892 (she dies in 1911).

In the 1890s Monet continues his quest to paint the changing light by painting a series of now-famous paintings of different motifs: haystacks, poplar trees, a cathedral.

After the turn of the 19th century, Monet turns his attention to his garden at Giverny and spends the rest of his life painting it, including the famous bridge and many views of water lilies on the pond.

Beginning in 1918, Monet begins a series of water lily paintings on large panels that will eventually be installed in the oval galleries of the Orangerie.

Monet dies December 5, 1926.

Happy Birthday Dear Claude, Happy Birthday to You!

And Many More…because your work lives on in museums and collections all over the world and in books and online forever to be enjoyed.

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, November 9

Mixing and Applying Watercolor

For this Watercolor, I Used Both
Wet-In-Wet & Wet-On-Dry
 & Mixed Color on the Palette
(Copyright 2011)
Other than the motif itself, I think color in your paintings is  most important—more than the genre, more than the style, and more than the values. That’s my opinion. Color, or the absence of color, as in the case of monochromatic paintings, is what initially draws our eyes and attention—or not—to any painting.

Color is important in all paintings but especially watercolor in the way it can be applied, manipulated, or just left to mingle. It’s that transparency or shimmer that makes watercolor special, and that’s why I’m blogging about it.

For anyone not familiar with watercolor, there are several ways to mix and to apply watercolor paint.  

There are three methods for mixing:  applying washes, mixing on the palette, or mixing on the paper. None are particularly easy. Washes provide the transparent look, but getting the right consistency and the right color wash-over-wash is very difficult.

Mixing on the palette is relatively easy to do. You see what you’re going to get before you apply it, but it’s also easy to mix mud, so be careful.

When you mix on the paper, you apply colors separately (or you should) and then let them mix on their own. I don’t suggest this way if you’re a micro-manager since you don’t have much control.

However, there is one way of mixing on the paper I recently learned about that I really like.  Rather than adding each color separately to the paper, you dip just the tip of the paintbrush in each color successively, and then you apply the paint in one brushstroke. This lets the colors mix on the paper, but you still retain some control.

For applying, there are also three methods: wet-in-wet, wet-on-dry, and dry-brush. There are other ways to do it—like spattering-- but basically they all fall into one of these three. Note, you're the artist and may use more than one method in a single painting. The names are practically self explanatory.

In wet-in-wet, you dampen the paper to the desired wetness, then apply the watercolor. In wet-on-dry, you do not dampen the paper at all, or you let wet paper dry completely, then you apply the watercolor. Dry-brush is when you apply very little paint on a brush (the “dry” brush) on dry paper; the paint is dragged over the paper so that you get a broken line.

Naturally, you get very different effects depending on which method you use. Wet-in-wet gives you that ephemeral  watercolor  look, but it’s almost uncontrollable, so you better have a plan. Wet-on-dry is easier to apply (relatively) and control, I think, but you better know what percentage of water- to-paint to use—too much or too little of either can ruin it. Dry-brush is used for many reasons, but I think it provides a special artistic effect that many painters are looking for.

There’s so much more to know about watercolor, one little blog is like a drop in the ocean. But maybe this has piqued your interest in learning more about it.

Happy Painting!

Friday, November 4

Getting Ready for a Gallery Show

The Bromeliad
Watercolor on Paper
(Copyright 2010)
I got ready for a gallery show this last week and had to figure out what I was going to do; that is, which paintings to put in the show and what price to put on them.

Decisions. Decisions.

This part of a painter's life seems a little alien to many painters. It’s not part of the daily painting routine, at least not for me, and I suspect not for a lot of others.

OK. Let’s see, what to do?

Well, first, what kind of a show is it? This show is a group show of like-minded painter friends with different, but mostly traditional styles. We are fortunate enough to be able to have a group show with the help of a couple of pros.

Second, where will the show be held?  What type of gallery and space is available, and where is the gallery located? This show is in a gallery that I believe has ample room and wall space, so I expect it will be thoughtfully and artisticly hung. The gallery is located outside the city near a lake, in a weekend get-away type of spot with a quaint downtown area that attracts visitors all year.

Knowing the type and location of the gallery will help you, as it did me, make some decisions on which paintings to choose and the prices. Since the gallery is in a rather casual setting, I decided to select several paintings that I thought were in keeping with a more relaxed ambience.

Since it’s near a lake, I chose my painting of a lakeside shoreline at dusk, very peaceful indeed. In keeping with the water theme, I also decided on a painting of an early morning beachside scene with lots of palm trees.

Enough water already. I decided to put in two paintings with flowers that I hope will appeal to art gallery browsers; however, they’re not typical flowers-in-a-vase still lifes. One is a bright red bromeliad with an interesting viewpoint, and the other is a flower-covered leafy vine on a patio.

I also chose an urban street scene that I hope some of the weekend city-slicker tourists will like (and buy).

The hardest part for most painters is deciding what price to put on your work. Unless you already are well known with a following of collectors, which I am not and do not have yet, too high a price would be laughable and probably turn off someone who may be otherwise  interested.

On the other hand, these paintings didn’t paint themselves; I worked for hours on all of them. I think if the prices are too low, then it may seem as if your work is not worth much—well, less than it should be anyway. There’s also the cost of supplies, not to mention the mat and framing.

I determined my prices, more or less, by the sizes of the paintings--the larger ones were more, the smaller ones, less. And since the gallery is not in an expensive urban location, I also took that into account. 

Anyway, the decision-making is over. Now we’ll just have to see how it goes.
I can’t wait to get back to painting.

Happy Painting!

Monday, October 31

Is Painting Dead?

Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes
Is painting dead? When you Google those words, you get pages of hits, so there obviously has been some discussion on the subject. October 31st being All Hallows Eve, I think this is an appropriate topic to blog about.

I wonder why and how this topic started and why it doesn’t seem to go away. I’m guessing it’s because there hasn’t been any real painting movement or trend that I’m aware of to take hold since Pop Art in the 1960s. Before then, you had identifiable genres in painting, such as Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, that lasted a generation or two. It is interesting to note that they were asking this same question when photography was invented in the mid-19th century. 

Of course, there has been new art expression since the 1960s, such as the Young British Artists of the 1990s and the current interest in all things contemporary and performance art, but that's not classical painting.

The art supply industry is like any other that innovates new and better products. Oil paint that can be cleaned up with water and slow-drying acrylic paint are a couple of new things that have recently been introduced. Obviously it's not the paint manufacturers that keep this idea alive.

Some discussion points to a waning interest in painting. Have degree-granting institutions of art really seen a decline in interest, and therefore, reduced the number of painting courses offered? Art schools and art associations in my area still seem to offer plenty of courses in all kinds of painting.

In the 21st century art and painting, along with everything else, especially communications, is advancing faster than you can keep up with it. The digitization of art and painting is the new thing these days. With Wacom Tablets ™ and Adobe Photoshop ™ you can create just about any kind of painting, effect, and technique.Will these technological tools permanently replace the paintbrush?

Is painting dead? I don’t think so. It would be like saying drawing or any art made by human hand is dead. As Mark Twain famously said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

I just think we’re in a period of waiting on the next big thing, even if it’s just a revival of classical painting.

Happy Painting!

Friday, October 28

Painting and Music Go Together

I'm Sure I Was Listening To Music
When I Painted This Acrylic
I always listen to music when I paint. Why is that?

The idea of working on a painting in relative quiet doesn’t sound very appealing to me. It seems empty and lonely. After all, painting is usually a singular activity that you do all alone by yourself anyway. Doing it in silence only seems to add to the loneliness.

Painting is not like reading or studying or any number of activities where you need almost complete concentration. No, painting allows your mind to wander even though your hand, eye, and mind are busily painting away.

Music even enhances the creative experience, I think. It keeps my thoughts and ideas on target where necessary, but at the same time, music can send me to other places and times depending on what I’m listening to.

The type of music we listen to is one of the most personal things we do. You can like one kind of music, and I can like a completely different kind, such as Polka versus Hip Hop or Classical versus Pop. It doesn’t matter what I like or what you like; they’re likely not the same anyway.

 As in people’s taste in art, one kind of music is not “better” than another, just different. There is no right or wrong.  That is why art--painting--and music go together.

While I'm painting, I listen to a variety of music websites on my laptop from all over the world that play the music I like. You should try it sometime.

Happy Painting!

Monday, October 24

Why Is Painting With Water Media Difficult?

I Just Wish I Could Remember
 How Much Water I Used On This Sky
I repeat,why is painting with water media difficult? By water media, I’m speaking of watercolor and acrylic. Well, for one, it’s water based (duh), and that means it’s free-flowing. The value and intensity of the hue and chroma you paint is directly related to the amount of water you use.

Too little water, and your paintbrush scrapes across the surface like a shovel on cement. Too much water, and your painting looks like dirty dish water. Either way, you’re up that proverbial creek unless that's what you intended.

Apparently no art mentor, no art teacher, no master, no book can actually teach you how much water to use. No amount of discussing, watching, or emulating will teach you that little trick for whichever style of water  media you are pursuing.

And therein lies the secret no one ever tells or teaches you. You have to learn water media by yourself. Let me say that another way—you have to learn how much water to use all by yourself by trial and error.

I’m paraphrasing a few snippets on the subject from several watercolor books:

-You must master painting washes.

-If your painting turned out well, keep it as an example and note what you did for the next time.

-The right amount of water is the hardest thing to learn.

And my favorite--You need to use the right amount of water!

Well, thanks, for the advice… I don’t know why I was having any trouble.

Until next blog, Happy Painting!

Thursday, October 20

Learning to Paint Loosely, Freely, and Boldly

One of My Loose Acrylics
Copyright 2010
It’s ironic to me, but true, that painting loosely or learning to paint loosely is actually more difficult than painting tightly. That is, painting freely is harder to do than painting with controlled, precise, brushstrokes that go exactly where you paint them to go.

At least that’s my opinion. It’s ironic because to the average person, painting loosely looks much easier to do than painting a controlled, representational, or highly realistic painting. In whatever medium, but especially watercolor, I think, a loosely painted painting looks as if “anyone could do that.”

Oh, just pick up a brush and dab or splash on some paint. And Viola, you have a beautiful, impressionistic painting, right? Wait, not so fast, and I mean that in more ways than one. Yes, painting openly, freely, and loosely can be relatively fast to render. But not always. Like many things in life, it just looks easy.

As with many things, you must first: know what you know, know what you don’t know, and then the most difficult of all—figuring out the things you don’t know you don’t know. You may have to think about that for a minute or two.

In loose, impressionistic painting that means taking all your knowledge as a painter, and then un-learning some techniques to allow yourself to paint freely (or more freely). If you think learning to paint is difficult, just wait until you have to un-learn how to paint.

That’s easier said than done. Letting go never is. But, if you’re inclined to paint loosely, boldly, and freely, then you must learn how to let go or un-learn some of your style and techniques.

The life of a painter can be frustrating.

(Cautionary note to readers:  this does not mean throwing out the basics, such as composition, value, lighting, distance, or perspective; it does mean throwing out some of your  ingrained habits.)

 But, as always, Happy Painting!

Monday, October 17

It's Not Whether You Win or Lose...

The Living Room Window
Copyright 2011
Although I did say that art is not a competition in a previous blog from 2010, I'm not one to pass up any award presented to me either. And that includes a Merchandise Award I received in the form of a gift certificate last Friday at the 42nd annual WAS-H Members Show.

As I said, we artists are not really in competition with each other as much as we are in competition with our own artistic ability to keep going in whatever direction we choose. We compete every time we pick up the paintbrush.

Timing and luck, I guess you could call it, also play a bigger part in our lives than most of us care to admit. We like to think we’re pretty much in control, but as often as not, things just fall into place.

For example, the painting for which I received the award, The Living Room Window, almost wasn’t even entered in the show. Here's how it went.

You are allowed to enter up to three paintings, and there is a little price break on the entry fee for your second and third entries.

Originally, I was going to enter only one painting that I thought had a chance to win. It had been in a recent gallery show and had received several nice comments, although it hadn’t sold. While I was getting the paperwork together for the members show, I happened to remember a painting I had completed last spring.

It was not yet framed because it's rather large, and I didn’t have a mat or a frame that fit, etc. Then I remembered a framed painting that was hanging in my hallway—one that I never really liked that much--but one of my first watercolors.

So I measured to see if my unframed painting would fit in this older frame. It did, and I switched  the paintings and decided to enter it at the last minute.

And it won something.

That’s why, as a painter, I never like to think of it as winning, or especially, as losing.

Until next blog,

Happy Painting!

Thursday, October 13

Art News from Around the World

If you’re new to OrbisPlanis, then I’ll explain about the newsfeed crawler gadget from Google up there near the top of the blog. Blogger has many, many “gadgets” as they call them, which are nothing more than apps--little snippets of code—that you insert in your blog. They add information or search for the latest information or keep count of something or whatever.

I added my “art”newsfeed to the blog a couple of years ago. It’s not an art app at all; rather you can customize whatever newsfeed topic you like. For instance you could choose soccer/futbol or opera or finance or just about anything. OrbisPlanis being about art and painting, I selected search terms that would look for art news, such as art, artwork, paintings, art museums, etc.

Anyway, it’s fun, I think, to sit back and see what comes up on any day. For example, here’s a smattering of art news from around the world on October 13, 2011:

 Paris Art Theft Says he Threw Paintings in Garbage Bin, from the Los Angeles Times - http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-france-art-garbage-20111010,0,7870046.story

Art-at-a-Glance: Art’s Most Powerful People, from the BBC News - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15286754

Ai Weiwei Tops Annual Power 100 Art List as Hirst, Koons Slide, from Bloomberg Businessweek - http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-12/ai-weiwei-tops-annual-power-100-art-list-as-hirst-koons-slide.html

Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Oil Painting Museum on Klimtmuseum.com by ABC Art Gallery, from the San Francisco Chronicle - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/10/13/prweb8872340.DTL

And finally.

What we’ve all been waiting for, from Entertainment Weekly, 'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist' recap: Enter the Sucklord - http://watching-tv.ew.com/2011/10/12/work-of-art-bravo-sucklord/

I hope you visit OrbisPlanis often to enjoy my art newsfeed gadget.

Until next blog,

Happy Painting!

Friday, October 7

Happy Day - Use the Right Art Supplies for You

If you’re like me (probably not), you want the best quality at the best price. I’m talking about art supplies.

As we all know, or have been led to believe, only the finest, highest priced supplies are the best. They are the only ones we should be using because, well, through time-tested use or word-of-mouth or brand-consciousness or whatever, they just are.


I’m not saying you should be using the least expensive (cheapest) or the “worst” or the discounted-because-they’re-near-their expiration-date either.

I’m saying that you should be looking for the best price at the best quality you can find. That can be at an online art store or at a bricks and mortar art supply store or even at a local artist’s purge/going-out-of-business sale. I'm just saying.
You should, I think, be comfortable with the choices you make, but I have found that some of the “best” products do not work all that well for me or for the way I paint. I have no idea why. And some of the least expensive (cheapest) work wonderfully well for my work, so I keep using them.

Also, I like to experiment or maybe I should say chance-it with unknown products just to see if they will work, especially if they are at a reduced price.

If someone likes my work, do or will they care if I use a brand-name or a no-name product? I doubt it. They will care only if some other artist or gallery owner or paint/brush/paper manufacturer has told them they should care. Chew on that.

Case in point. I happened upon a brand of watercolor that I was told had recently gone out of business, and so my local art supply chain had purchased their entire remaining stock. They were selling the whole line of paint for more than half-off the cost of similar, well-known brands. All of the paint was labeled “Professional Artist Colors.” Happy Day.

I purchased a few to try them out. I started with some colors I had been wanting for my new impressionistic watercolor palette but still keeping with the three primaries, so I bought Light Red, Yellow Ochre, and Lavender.

I liked them so much I went back and purchased several more: Ultramarine Deep, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Rose Madder, Sap Green, and Cobalt Green. Even with this quality at these discounted prices I can’t afford to buy them all. Yet.

But I intend to, and that’s the takeaway from today’s blog. Be open-minded AND thrifty about what art materials work best for you. After all, it’s your art and it’s your money.

Until next time.

Happy Painting!

Monday, October 3

Painting Watercolor with Big Brushes

My First "Big Brush" Watercolor
Copyright 2011
A few blogs ago I talked about big brush painting and how many of the current impressionist watercolor painters are using rather large brushes to achieve many of the painterly effects in their work.

So I have been practicing with my new, larger brushes and just wanted to blog about it.

One thing I noticed almost immediately is the freedom you feel (or I did anyway) from the moment you start painting with these big brushes. I don’t know whether it’s the way I hold the big brush, rather loosely and way up handle from the ferrule, or the fact that with a big brush you feel like you can move your arm in a sweeping gesture. But whatever it is, it certainly made me feel like I was in control here at the palette.

Another thing I noticed is the amount of water and/or paint these brushes can hold. No surprise that a No. 14 Round holds more than a No. 2, but since there’s more water/paint, you feel like you can paint really large, no matter the dimensions of your paper.

I also read in blogs (and viewed on YouTube) how many of these watercolor impressionists paint. What they give up in detail by using large brushes, they gain in the beautiful impressionistic way the paint flows and mixes the colors. To me, that is the essence of why one paints with watercolor, and the lack of detail is exactly the style and effect I was looking for.

The last thing I noticed is how fast, relatively, you can paint with these bigger brushes. When I was painting with No.2s, No.4s, and even No.8s, it took days (for me anyway) to work through a painting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s rather exhilarating to paint alla prima if you haven’t tried it in a while.

Note—that doesn’t mean that you, as the knowledgeable artist and painter, don’t have to spend some time putting finishing touches on your work, but several of the current watercolor impressionists made a point of saying, “Don’t over-do it!”

So, that’s what I’ve been doing—practicing, practicing with my new, large paint brushes. I said in the previous blog that I would actually paint something and show it to you. It's today’s image. I rather like it, and I hope you try painting with big brushes, too.

Until next time,

Happy Painting!