Tuesday, January 29

Make It A Hake!

My Hake Brush
Some painters, such as Ron Ranson, swear by them. Other painters have never heard of them.

Of what do I speak?

The hake brush--that paint brush with the unusual-sounding name.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, Wikipedia provides this quick description: an Asian style of brush with a large broad wooden handle and an extremely fine soft hair used in counterpoint to traditional Sumi brushes for covering large areas. Often made of goat hair.

Now Wikipedia didn't mention this, but the hake is, more often than not, associated with watercolor. Maybe you saw one, and didn't know what it was called, or maybe you had heard of it, but had never seen one, so you didn't know what you were looking at.

Whatever the case, when you finally figure it out, you may be asking why would I want to use one anyway?

As the above description says, it's used for covering large areas. That's very true because they come in widths up to 8 in. (20.3 cm.), and I have never seen one smaller than 1 in. (2.5 cm.). They usually have tapering wooden handles, like mine in today's image, but there are some where the handle is several short sticks of bamboo glued together

They are good for juicy washes and, in my opinion, painting all kinds of skies and clouds. I also think they are great for painting in the loose style (very loose) with little detail work--with such a broad, soft brush, how could you paint otherwise?

Anyway, they take a little getting used to, but for quick, painterly watercolors, I think they're just what JMW Turner would have ordered.

By the way, there doesn't seem to be one definitive way to pronounce "hake" either. It can be hay-kay, or it can be hock-ey, or it can be hey-k (rhymes with bake). It doesn't seem to care what you call it, but you should try one out.

Thursday, January 24

Painting Eggs

As you can see, the title of today's blog is Painting Eggs.
What does painting eggs have to do with anything? Well, if you read my last blog, you may recall that I was trying to get my painting groove back after the holiday hiatus.
I wasn't having much luck either. But, as in life, simple things are usually the best. And that was true in this case.
In a weekly critique class we were given a quick assignment to reinforce and improve our painting skills. The assignment was to paint three eggs (watercolor) on a white surface with one light source in addition to the ambient light.
The skills we were trying to improve were: understanding light source and shading, and creating volume. Simple.
Seems to have worked. Above is my little effort, and I now feel more confident, if not inspired, to begin painting again with renewed vigor and anticipation.
If you've recently lost your painting groove, go out and find it, by all means.

Monday, January 14

Get Your Painting Groove Back

Let There Be Light
Photo Copyright 2006
Somewhere after the holiday and New Year celebrations I lost my painting groove, and I am attempting to get it back.

As I said in a December blog, maybe it's the light this time of year, or actually the lack of light. I'm not ready to put a light bulb behind my knees--just yet.

Maybe it's the natural ebb and flow of interest and enthusiasm (for painting) followed by disinterest and ennui. Maybe.

I have tried several things to jump-start the process, such as:

- going through my paints and culling out all the ones that I will never ever use on my palette, such as pthalo green (and Prussian blue)

- then re-arranging all my remaining paints into just two containers--one for cool colors and one for warm colors (someone said this is how you should paint)

- putting all my watercolor paper out in one pile on one table, including single full sheets down to 6-in. x 6-in. pads and everything in between, just so I could see exactly what I had and if painting smaller or larger would help (no)

- going through all my reference photos yet again to see if by chance I have overlooked one that jumps out as 'the next ONE' (not really)

- going to my local art supply store to see if I could gin up some interest (no, I did pick up a couple of Harmony Squirrel Quills though)

So you know, I am trying to get in the groove by actually painting, but so far, I have not been satisfied with any of my attempts.

So at this juncture, I am now blogging about the whole issue. Maybe that, and watching the NFL play-offs and the Australian Open, will help. We'll see.

Monday, January 7

Learn Art History Online

Many people, including artists and painters, use January as a time for improvement and renewal. Of course, for some people not so much, but for me this is a good time to learn something new. Why not go online and take a course or two on art history?

We're well into the 21st century, so embrace technology and use it to further your knowledge on art history. Online learning via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone is about as easy as it gets. You can take a course or learn something whenever and wherever it's most convenient for you.

There are all kinds of courses/lectures available--on art history, on art movements and eras, as well as on individual artists, painters, and even particular paintings.

They are available FREE and online at such sites as:




Don't forget about the Art Babble site either, http://www.artbabble.org/ .

When you need to take a break from your actual painting, use that time to become better educated about your avocation and how it evolved.

Wednesday, January 2

Start the New Year with a Visit to Your Local Art Museum

A Walk in the Art Museum
Acrylic on Canvas
copyright 2011
What better way for artists and painters to start the new year than with a visit to their local art museums? None that I can think of.

It will help you re-charge your creative juices and, if nothing else, keep you warm and dry on a dreary winter's day (in the northern hemisphere).

January is a great time to get re-acquainted with your local art museum. Maybe you're already an active member and volunteer, but if you're like most, you only visit ocasionally when there's a big brand-name exhibit or worse, not at all.

However, your local curator probably wants you to enjoy all the exhibits your museum has to offer, I'm sure of that. If it's been a while since your last visit, you probably will be pleasantly surprised.

I'm a member of our local MFAH, and even though I receive updates and literature on current and upcoming exhibits and lectures ("Gallery Talks"), I don't go as often as I should to take full advantage of all there is to see, do, and learn.

So, one resolution for 2013--visit the art museum more often, especially in January...