Thursday, September 25, 2008

Skateboarding and Painting

From left:
Expectation, watercolor

Pink Scarf, watercolor

Last weekend I took a little road trip with my son and three of his friends. We drove four hours to Kettering, Ohio to check out DC Skate Plaza, which my son referred to as the "mecca" of all skate parks. I wish I could say that I whipped out my skateboard and showed them all a few new tricks. Actually, I whipped out my paintbrushes and finished two paintings that I had started earlier. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.

My husband didn't fair so well. He was in charge of getting our youngest son to his football game and later, to a birthday party. "Hey, no problem," I distinctly heard him say before I left. After forgetting the directions to the football game, they drove around for half an hour before getting there after the game started. After taking a little nap and waking 5 minutes before my son needed picking up from the birthday party, he rushed down the driveway, drove off the side and got the car stuck on an embankment. After the tow truck pulled him out, he picked up our son an hour late at the party. "How'd it go?" I asked.

"Hey, no problem."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vine Black: Black Pigment Series, Part 4

This is the last of a four-part series comparing black pigments.

VINE BLACK is also called Drop Black, Frankfort Black, Peach Black, Spanish Black and Blue Black. These blacks are made by burning grape vines, cork and other woods and vegetable products. The reason you don't hear much about Vine Black is that it has a reputation of being less pure and inferior to the other blacks. Peach Black was reputed to be the best of a bad bunch. They are bluish in undertone which explains why they used to commonly be called Blue Black. Nowadays colors sold under the Blue Black name are usually mixtures of Ultramarine and Ivory Black. Here's link to a company that still makes Vine Black: Natural Pigments.

Heard enough about black yet? No? Here are a few others:

FURNACE BLACK (also called Carbon Black) is almost pure carbon and makes a dense and intense black used in industrial coatings but less commonly for artist's paint due to a tendency to make 'streaky' tints. Produced by burning Natural Gas.

CHARCOAL BLACK is made from willow and is pure ground charcoal. As a pigment it makes a very poor paint and has been replaced by modern substitutes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mars Black: Black Pigment Series, Part 3

MARS BLACK is also called Iron Black, or Black Iron Oxide. It was developed later than the other blacks, early in the 20th century. It is the only major black pigment that is considered non-toxic. It is dense and opaque with a warmish brown undertone.

Mars Black is one of the few non-carbon pigments. It is an artificial mineral pigment made from iron metal. Named for the god of war, Mars Black is very opaque, with approximately three times the tinting strength of Ivory Black. Mars Black is often the choice of the Neo-Expressionists and others who want make black opaque marks in thick wet paintings. It also is the leanest black and dries more quickly than Ivory.

Although I've never used Mars Black, I may give it a try. I like the fact that is nontoxic and fast drying. I would also like to try it for its warm color compared to Ivory Black.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ivory Black: Black Pigment Series, Part 2

IVORY BLACK is also referred to as Bone Black and, although their names have been used interchangeably, you will see that they are actually different pigments.

The making of the Ivory Black was first described in the 4th century B.C. Ivory scraps were packed into clay pots and covered with an iron lid, leaving as little air as possible in the pots. The ivory was then exposed to high heat. This produced a very intense black, but was an extremely expensive process.

A cheaper method was invented by the Romans by burning ordinary animal bones instead of ivory. This became known as Bone Black and soon replaced Ivory Black in popularity. Artist started referring to Bone Black as Ivory Black and eventually the name stuck. So what we commonly know today as Ivory Black is actually...Bone Black.

True Ivory Black has a higher carbon content than Bone Black and is more intense. It is the deep velvety black found in the backgrounds of Rembrandt's portraits. The genuine pigment is still made in tiny quantities from Ivory harvested from animals that have died naturally but is almost as expensive as genuine Lapis Lazuli Ultramarine.

Ivory Black is a good, all purpose black that has a weak tinting strength and is slightly warm in color. This is a good choice for mixing greys, tinting and mixing with other colors.

A very slow drier in oil, it is not a good choice for an underpainting. It produces a soft and brittle oil paint. It can never be used in Fresco as it crystallizes.

Downsides: It is considered toxic. Do not breath dust. The slower drying time could be an advantage or a downside, depending on your preference.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paint It Black: Black Pigment Series, Part 1

Following a series on white pigments, I was curious and decided to explore the characteristics of black pigments. Once I started digging, I found this subject to be extremely fascinating and was amazed to find out so much more than I expected. I collected this information from multiple Internet sources, but discrepancies are possible. If you have something to add, or even challenge, leave a comment. We can all learn from others' expertise.

Did you know that black was one of the first three colors ever used by humankind, along with red and yellow earth? Black was first made with burnt wood, and since it was readily available from the nightly fires and was already in a stick form, it is likely that it was the first color ever used!

Carbon Black is the generic term used for any black pigment made from charring natural elements such as wood (Carbon Black), bone or ivory (Bone Black & Ivory Black), lamp oil (Lamp Black) and grape vines (Vine Black).

I'm going to describe four common groups of black pigments:
1) Lamp Black
2) Mars Black and Iron Black
3) Ivory Black and Bone Black
4) Vine Black

So, let's get started.

LAMP BLACK was originally produced by collecting soot, also known as lampblack, from oil lamps. In early Egyptian times, it was the black of choice. It was a more intense and pure black than charcoal. This is the black you will see in Egyptian murals and tomb decorations.

Lamp Black is one of the slowest drying pigments in oil and should never be used underneath other colors unless mixed with a fast drier such as Umber. It produces a very soft, but brittle oil paint. While Lamp Black has a long and honorable history, most artists prefer either Ivory Black or the newer Mars Black.

Some types may be considered toxic. Lamp black can be brittle, therefore not having as much longevity. Depending on your preference, the slow drying time can be considered an advantage or drawback.

Tomorrow--Ivory Black: Black Pigment Series, Part 2

credit: paintmaking.com, wikipedia, real color wheel

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brillante Weblog Award

Very cool! I've just found out that I have been awarded the "Brillante Weblog Award" by two artists. Robin Maria Pedrero whose blog Pocketful of Colors is one of my favorites. She is always coming up with something new and fun to read and her work is beautiful. Laura Scarlett writes a fun blog with a variety of topics and it will be fun to follow as she progresses in her art through college. Thanks to both of you.

Part of the deal is that I now nominate 7 recipients. Here are my choices in no relevant order:
Kristy Gordon: One of the most talented new portrait artists I have encountered yet. Her blog is informative, loaded with videos and demos, but her work is even better.
Abbey Creek Art: Linda is a wonderful artist and her blog is a fun, daily journal of her days in and out of the studio.
Blog of Manon Doyle: Manon is a mosaic artist and pet portrait artist and her blog is FUN. She also does journal pages which are very creative.
Original Antoine Art: This is the blog to see beauty and grace. Her figures are absolutely gorgeous.
The Best Artists: I've learned more about the masters on this blog than in most of my college art education. This is a great blog for those who want to learn more or just enjoy reading about the greatest artists.
Laurellines: Go to her blog now to see amazing photos and stories of her trip to Iceland. Just beautiful!
Vikki's Blog: I just love her paintings. They are so conceptual and creative. Not a boring post yet!

Just a note of thanks to all the bloggers I nominated above. I've learned from each of you and have been inspired daily!

Rules of Acceptance:
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.
6. Participation is entirely voluntary (of course!).
7. Have fun...honoring the bloggers who inspire you regularly.

Celebrate the Arts community event

This weekend I participated in a wonderful community event called "Celebrate the Arts". I was asked to do a painting demo. Okay, so I can either work on house projects, run the kids around, make dinner OR paint for 5 hours, meet fun people, eat good food and drink Sangria? Well, THAT was a tough choice.

These were the two paintings I worked on while I was there. Not finished with either one, but I think a good start.

Below were two great kids I met who were just mesmerized by the watercolor paint. I gave them some brushes, paint and extra paper and let them play around with it. I love the inquisitiveness and lack of self consciousness that children have.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TJ and Tilly, new watercolor pet portrait

Last week was a complete blur! With construction going on in our house, school and kids' activities, opening a new gallery and working on commissioned work, I swear I ran around looking like a deer in the headlights. How do some people do all this and still look completely unfazed? I can never quite pull it off.

Anyway, here is my latest pet commission. Meet TJ and Tilly, two well-loved, curious little Dachshunds. This portrait was done long distance, with the client taking the photos. This is not the way I would recommend working, but for this commission it was unavoidable. The client was great about shooting and reshooting, but it's still hard to get just the right shot.

For the painting, I started out using a new set of quinacridone colors, knowing that the bright color can be tempered it down later.

In the end, I went over the background with a Titanium white wash which gives it the painting a nice neutral background that lets the original color peek through.