Thanks and best wishes,
I wasn't planning on posting on my blog today, but, as with all things new and shiny, there are some bugs that need working out... for example, the gray text that is hard to read. I hope you will bear with me as Catherine, my webmaster, and I get things sorted out. By the way, if you see something that needs fixing, by all means, please let me know.
Thanks and best wishes,
...well, at least where I can see! I just can't bring myself to look over my north-facing cliff yet! Maybe next month.
First I would like to thank all of you who sent me emails of congratulations and kind words about my new blog, and also those who wished to subscribe, but couldn't find the button. As I send this edition out, that has been remedied so at the right-hand side of the blog, please enter your email address and click on the subscribe button. Thanks! Also, if you are enjoying my blog please feel free to forward the link to others whom you think might be interested in the art knowledge I wish to share, for free!
It's been a busy week since I last wrote. Classes started up at the NECTAR Centre in New Edinburgh with both returning and a number of new students. My second class at the senior's residence was even better than the first and we did mixed media birds, being Spring, and then they did their weekly journal entry. I had my private classes at my studio as well as shopping for supplies for classes, preparing applications for upcoming art shows... and, oh yes, getting groceries and other necessities of life! Funny how art always seems to take priority!
With the warmer weather, this week I took some time to start varnishing paintings. During the winter I keep my studio just above freezing when I'm not out there working... about 40'F/4'C. When I want to work I fire up the heater and am comfortable at about 60'F/15'C, but when I'm done I turn down the heat again... I'm a Hydro One customer so electricity is expensive, and should not be wantonly wasted.
When I began painting in acrylics there were some ideas about acrylics that have since been proven wrong. One of those was that there wasn't a need to varnish acrylic paintings, like oil paintings usually are. I was told by more than one paint manufacturer that because acrylic is a resilient polymer film, varnishing was unnecessary. As it turns out, polymer is a soft resilient film and over time can absorb dirt present in the atmosphere. (It does. I have seen it.)
With acrylics being a new medium on the block, it is not unusual for products and procedures to change as the medium develops. After all, it's only been available for the last 50 some years, although it accounts for about 60% of the artists colour market.
So, what I have recently learned is that when my painting is finished and dry, I should apply a coat of polymer medium, as a separation layer and then when that is dry and cured, apply a removable varnish. (Curing time at each stage is about 3 days.)
The separation layer is important because it is what separates the paint from the varnish, and down the road, should your painting need repairs and the varnish have to be removed, that layer prevents the paint from being removed as well.
This brings to mind Damar Varnish, for oil painters. Damar Varnish is often used as part of an oil painting medium to thin paints. If there is also Damar varnish in the finishing varnish then, in the event that the painting needs repair, not only will the finishing varnish be lifted, but also the paint used with Damar as the medium. Something to think about!
The varnish provides a hard finished surface for your painting that does not absorb dirt particles, and does not soften in heat as the acrylic paint does... facilitating the fusion with other paintings... should you leave them face to face in your car in the heat of the summer. (I'm totally experienced on this!)
Varnishes come in a variety of forms, including brush on and spray; oil based and acrylic based; matte, gloss or satin. I like to vary the sheen on some of my abstract paintings as I find it adds visual interest to the work. To do that I purchase both a matte and glossy version of the same varnish and use them on the various parts of the painting that I want gloss and matte. By mixing the two, in varying quantities I can also create the exact satin sheen that I want.
When using varnishes always read and follow the directions carefully. It would be a shame to ruin a finished painting by applying the varnish incorrectly. Once the varnish is applied you can no longer paint on the painting as the paint will not stick to varnish. To continue painting the varnish must be removed, again according to the manufacturer's directions.
Once again I'd like to invite you to subscribe to my blog, now that we have that magic little button in there. Also, please feel free to comment and I really want to know what you would like me to write about in future blogs... a problem you are having with a painting, information about a new media you want to try, how to mix colours... anything that relates to art and artists. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Today's Painting Tip...
When painting in acrylics and oils it is beneficial to paint from dark to light. That means to get your darkest colours laid in first, then your mid-values and then your highlights. What this does is put your shadows underneath the highlights, where they would be naturally, while your highlights are up front, closer to the light source. By using a minimum of three values (dark, medium and light) your subject starts to show form. Of course you can always use more values, depending on your subject or your preferences, but less that three will leave your subject looking flat.
Thanks and best wishes,
Three... Two... One... Launch sequence in progress... Here we go... The blog is launched! Hurrah! Cheers all 'round! Special thanks to Catherine Wray Gutsche at http://www.calico-com.com/ for setting the whole thing up! She's amazing!
You know what "They" say... "Today is the first day of the rest of your life". Well, I'm not certain that this is the rest of my life, but it is definitely a new step in a different direction for me... blogging, wow! Who'd of "thunk" it? I certainly didn't. Mind you, writing is not foreign to me. I've written newsletters for my own businesses as well as a number of not-for-profit organizations, over the years. I even tried to write a novel, but after the first three chapters I was absolutely, totally exhausted and gained an incredible respect for published novelists!
I have friends who blog:
Collage artist Michelle Casey (http://www.collageyourworld.com/);
Acrylic artist Hala Al-Madi (https://halaalmadi.wordpress.com/about/);
Artist and teacher Kerstin Peters (http://www.kerstinpeters.ca/),
and I'm sure there are others out there that haven't let me know that they are blogging... yet! (If you are one please let me know!)
Art is what I do... I create it, I share it, I teach it. This is the purpose of my blog. To share with you my creating and my teaching. I recently shared photos of a painting in it's various stages from start to finish on Facebook, which was fun and got good response from my Facebook friends, which I will do, from time to time, on my blog, but what I most want to share with people are tips, techniques and information that will help my subscribers to make art more comfortable for themselves and create pieces of art that they will be proud of.
When I was much younger... I made a decision that I would not become a secretary, nurse or teacher, which were the main job options for girls at the time. (Yup, dating myself and also making my mark as a feminist!) I faint at the sight of blood so nurse/doctor was a definite no-go, but if I had known then how much I enjoy helping my students achieve things they didn't think that they were capable of, I would have become a teacher. What is it that "They" say... "Too soon old, too late wise." Learning is an ongoing process for both you and me. I'm delighted that you are interested in learning from me, but I also welcome the opportunity to learn from you. To that end, I invite you to let me know what kind of things you would like to learn about. Even if what you want to learn about it is not a subject that I actually teach, I will endeavour to find someone who can respond to your questions. Just let me know! I want my blog to be just as much about you as me, almost like we are having a conversation, a dialogue rather than a monologue!
I often say that art education is cumulative... If we all had to start at square one we would all still be producing paintings similar to the cave paintings of our ancestors. Thankfully, all that has been learned along the way (perspective, colour mixing, atmospheric perspective and much more) comes to us without having to start at the beginning. Just think of the millennia we are saving ourselves by letting others show us the tricks and skills acquired over those centuries.
This past week I did my first in a series of classes for a local senior's residence. While the residence is privately owned, a large number of the residents are subsidized and so things like art classes are not on the agenda. For this reason I am volunteering my time to teach the classes. My friend and investment advisor, Lynn Cain, http://www.cainandosborne.com/ raised the funds for supplies for the classes from some of her clients, for which I am truly grateful! Thanks Lynn!
As always, my students amazed me with their enthusiasm and with the beautiful journalling pages that they created. They were so thrilled to find out that the journals are theirs to keep, rather than having to hand them back to me at the end of the class. (Wasn't expecting that!)
To start the journalling experience I wanted to keep things simple... cutting, pasting, stamping, sticking, writing and adding some bling. Wow! Next week I'll be stepping up the process because these people are serious about creating their pages! I can see that they are going to keep me on my toes! Well, that's a challenge that I enjoy... giving my students what they need to grow and develop their artistic skills and thereby increase their pleasure in creating art.
Today's Painting Tip:
Spring brings the emergence of new leaves on trees and bushes as well as lawns coming back to life. Spring greens are yellow-greens, rather than blue-greens. To darken your green you can add a touch of red, which will make it darker by slightly neutralizing the green (great for shadows). To lighten a green use your green-yellow (Hansa Yellow Light; Lemon Yellow; Arylide Yellow Light) rather than white. Try the combinations on your palette. See the differences? When creating highlights on green foliage use your green-yellow straight from the tube. It's a colour match that will add true life to your foliage!
So, I invite you to subscribe to my blog (you can unsubscribe at any time), tell me what you are interested in learning, and let me show you some of the things that we have learned over the last millennium, that will help make your journey of learning much easier. I'm ready to get this blog launched and I hope I can count on you to help me get it there.
Thanks and best wishes,
I enjoy sharing my knowledge with other people. I teach oil painting, a variety of acrylic painting techniques and business of art classes. My workshops are offered through the City of Ottawa, Visual Arts Centre, Orleans, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, and the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, New York. I also offer workshops in my studio in Cumberland, (Ottawa) Ontario.