Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cleaning brushes

Some days I paint a little, break a little, and repeat. I get used to leaving my brushes out. And then I forget to clean them.

I've put off cleaning the most recent oversight for some time. I tried a soak in Gamsol but nothing doing. Spike oil would cut the dried paint but it's expensive stuff for cleaning brushes.

I heard that Murphy's would work so I put it up against the mighty turpentine, two brushes for each. The turpentine--fast, powerful, and full of toxic warnings--cleared up two brushes in 30 minutes or so. Murphy's took a few hours with its two but achieved the same results as turpentine! I can't find a warning of any kind on this product and its smell reminds me of lemon balm. Its MSDS doesn't seem to show any out of the ordinary cautions.

So unless I'm in a real hurry, and I can't imagine why, it's Murphy's for me! :-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inspired by an onion

In a painting from a few months back I found joy and frustration. I liked what I was doing with the light but felt some things were wrong. After repeated deconstructions, it became clear that I failed to show enough details, enough clues, to properly identify the sphere as an onion. Now, I didn't want to take this to photorealism or high botanical accuracy but I did want it to read as a vegetable. (I do have other issues to get to with this painting. We'll just take them one by one.)

I realized that if I couldn't properly draw an onion with good detail, how could I model one in paint with a slightly loose style? I don't think "loose" is about painting quickly and willy-nilly but actually a very controlled effect by an artist who know the details and knows how much detail can be left out.

I'm reading "Drawing From Observation" by Brian Curtis. It's bringing me to ponder what I see versus what I think I see. I think this is a fascinating subject and I'll get into more details in upcoming posts as I work further into the book's exercises.

For now, here are a couple of quotes from Chapter 3, Mechanics, that I find intriguing:
"Fluctuating line is the single most crucial element for establishing the overall level of sensitivity in a drawing."

"Every mark that you make needs to be in constant flux to embody the restless energy and tension that underlie the functioning of our biological organism and, more specifically, our perceptual experience."

So for now I am going to freely play with line. And onions. This won't get my onion properly painted today or even next week. But that's okay. There's no rush.

Here's one with a blunted 2B.  Where is my sandpaper...

"A line is a dot that went for a walk." 
                 Paul Klee  1879-1940

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

After a few months of introspection, I think I'm back. More on the details in upcoming posts but for now I'd like to share inspiration by way of my teacher, my mentor. Some time ago she was standing over me and quoted while I worked through an old master design exercise:

"Begin by adorning yourself with these vestments: Love, Reverence, Obedience, and Constancy."

Cennino d'Andrea Cennini 1370-1440

You know those moments when time disappears and your art is really working? That quote reminds me of this.