I was a a dinner party the other day. I wanted to tell them all of some cutting edge research I had read about anti-aging. I started and they rolled their eyes and changed the subject. I was also reading about variable resistance and fitness and wanted to talk about muscle activation, and they poured me some wine and said, “Are you going on any trips this year?” So I want to express my geeky sciencey side. To do so I started a You Tube Channel called Lifespan and Longevity. My video skills and video editing skills are slowly improving. I now have immense respect for those delivering snappy perfectly edited videos. But I am getting there. So if you want to follow along here are a few of my posts. Subscribe to my YouTube page and follow along. Fellow geeks…join me…I know you are out there!
I’ve been building on some older work and have some paintings emerging in a contemporary style. I thought I might gather the inspiration from them and gather the new works here.
Meeting the Genius
Surfing the Mindscape
The Birth of the Soul
If you like the above paintings you might want to experiment with high flow acrylic paint. The first link is for opaque high flow paints and the second transparent.
Transparent high flow
No, I’m Not Done Yet.
In Your Dreams
As the holiday season approaches, more then ever before, am grateful for the peace and plenty that I have. I feel very lucky to have been born in the United States. These thoughts and the turmoil that has been occurring in the world were on my mind when I painted this. This is a large piece, 36 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas. I titled it ” Reach for Peace”. The constellation in the corner is Columba, which is Latin for Dove. And the white poppy has been a symbol of peace that was first used after World War I.
Recently I’ve been working in two styles, one is the egg tempera based one I’ve discussed in previous posts and also a more abstract one, that I’ve been working with in acrylic. I find it very hard to settle down and just do one style. So I’ve decided to try and focus on just two for a while (if I can). I’ve been playing with drawings that I draw to convey some sort of motion and then I add color. I find that these are best expressed in acrylic, that dries fast so I can keep my shapes clean and sharp. I greatly enlarge the small sketches and start playing with the images I see on the canvas. Some sort of magic happens when I make the initial images larger and I start seeing new shapes and images arise in the negative space. Here are two that I have finished in that style. So for the winter, let it flow and let it grow.
The top one is entitled “Reach for Peace” and the next one is “The Power of Nature” and both 36 x 48 inches in size, the third one is “The Mating Game” and is about 24 x 30 and the bottom one “Ride the Wild Seahorse” and is 18 x 24 inches in size.
What is Mischetechnik? It is a mixed technique using ink, egg tempera and oil paints. It is also referred to as Mische technique. That sounds simple right? It is the technique that was used by many of the old masters, religious icon painters and also many current visionary artists One of my favorite artists to paint using this technique was Andrew Wyeth. It creates many semi-neutrals that glow and add depth. I love using a palette that contains semi-neutrals and therefore am attracted to this technique.
I have to admit I am also an art geek. Not only do I love to paint, but I love to delve into the history of how paints were made, when various oils were used and why, and how we came to do things the way we do now. Older is not always better, but I think we can learn from the past. When you start delving into how do to Mischtechnik all clarity is lost. First we need an egg. Check. Then you need….well oil to make the emulsion..but through history various thicknesses of oils with various varnishes have been used and every artist had his or her favorite. Often simply as what was commonly and cheaply available at that time and in their area.
So instead of looking for a recipe to copy exactly, I decided to look at why each component is used, what is its place, and how does it function. And then like the artists of old, what do I use regularly and have in my studio that fulfills that function. I will share with you “my recipe” but I highly recommend a read of any section related to egg tempera in The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting: With Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters by Max Doerner. I’ve also had some productive conversations with the owner of The Art Tree House, my source for non-toxic painting and cleaning supplies.
To paint, what do you need? A support, pigment for color, a binder to mix with the pigment so it can be applied and a method to apply the painting. The pigment can either be made to be opaque or transparent. Commercial paint may also have fillers, stabilizers, and other agents added to prevent paint degradation. There are some tempera paints available in tubes, but from what I have read, they don’t give the same results as making your own. I’m not saying they are good or bad, just not the same.
I prepared two different types of supports, one canvas and one a wood panel by coating with a thin layer of gesso, and allowed it to dry. Then I made my drawing with waterproof ink and also allowed it to dry. This gave me a fairly smooth surface with lights and darks, not just outlines, well defined. Here is one on canvas.
Next I used a transparent red. Over one I used a permanent alizarin crimson and the other a transparent oxide red. I’ll post on the detailed results and glazes with regard to warmth of color and so forth in a different post. If you are looking through your tubes of paints, and come across a brand that doesn’t list transparency on the label, if the color is a “lake” insert color, it is probably transparent. I made a mixture of part Damar crystals in lavendar oil to 1 part linseed oil for the glaze. I tested my glaze simply by using a marker on my disposable palette and glazing over the black mark. Of course you could make a series of test panels for yourself as well. Here is the painting with the transparent oxide red over it.
Next onto the egg emulsion. To make this a more formal “tempera” simply use the egg yolk only. An egg emulsion should dry harder and shinier than the tempera. A nice treatment of egg emulsion vs egg tempera can be found on the True Art website.
In the following order shaking your container vigorously after each addition:
1 measure of whole egg (Egg white will make this dry more rapidly, egg yolk only will dry more slowly).
1 measure of linseed oil (lavender oil alone would not be enough of a binder)
1 measure of damar crystals in lavender oil:linseed oil 1:1 mixture (I found using too much (straight lavender oils can leave a sticky texture and take too long for a painting to dry to suit me.)
1 measure of water. (Max Dorner says you can add 2 measures so it’s up to what you want.)
Now you have your egg medium. Mix with dry pigment. I used Titanium white. Do some research as some pigments contain substances, often metals, that will chemically react with the yolk. My sources say to use a glass pestle on a glass palette. While I used a glass palette, I simply blended and blended and blended with a palette knife. You can see the partially blended material on the left and the smoother fully blended material on the right.
I put this in a clean jar with a damp sponge at the bottom and literature says in the refrigerator for about a week. I think mine might last a little longer as lavender oil has been shown to have antibacterial properties. This does dry quickly so work fast. I also diluted it a little as needed with my damar crystals in lavender oil: linseed oil mix to thin it out as needed.
I used this to paint in the highlights and areas of light. One thing I came across in my reading of Max Dorner was not to add white into the shadows as it will make them look muddy.
Next you add a layer of transparent yellow, allow to dry, and then add whatever lights you want with your egg tempera/titanium white mixture. Allow that to dry and add a transparent layer of blue. Again whites where needed, and finally add local colors either directly or by adding another layer of your egg tempera and painting on that. All these steps can be repeated over and over so there is no requirement to either a) do them all or b) stop at only 3 or 4 layers.
Yellow and egg tempera on the iron oxide red glaze.
Here is the blue glaze over the above, allowed to dry to tackiness and then egg emulsion with titanium white painted for the highlights. Wow..things are stating to happen. Look at all those shades of green. I used a Prussian blue glaze alone on the bulk of the picture with a bit of zinc white I added to the blue in the glaze on the sky. The white egg emulsion was then used to highlight where I was planning to put local colors. No green paint has been used.
Here is the final with local colors painted in directly. This is after drying overnight, the colors meld a bit then and more semi-neutrals magically appeared overnight. I think I may have been a little heavy handed with painting in some of my local colors and am trying to be a little more careful with the other two paintings I am working on. I’ll post them both when they are finished.
Title: Gerd Watching the Land Incubate the Harvest
Happy painting! Let me know about your experiments into media and how they work as well.
I have always been an avid gardener. In the spring I love to start by filling colorful pots on my deck with fresh plants from our local garden centers. When Tila was a puppy, I was happily potting away, turned my back for a moment and found my puppy in a whirl of lavender plants. In reality, there was only one plant de-potting puppy, but in this painting I thought it was more fun to have two.
In my imagination, Pyrs have a secret life at night we don’t know about. They hear the conversation of owls and mice, smell the scent of moonbeams, and more. This painting came out of that part of my imagination.
A little Pyr puppy wakes in the dark of night and is frightened by the shadows and the sounds. His mother comforts him with “Don’t be afraid of the dark, the Pyr in the moon will watch over us.
And look very carefully at the moonlight that comes in the window! It lights part of the wood floor and lights the Pyrs up in its beam subtlety changing the colors of the rug as well. I worked very hard on that!
I had an idea, a dream of a painting I could see clearly in my mind. A little Pyr puppy who was woken up at night by the light of the full moon and decided to play. I picked up my brush and realized I had no idea on how to paint light. Light is hard. So I read up on glazing. That is what the great painter Vermeer used and many other great Masters to show light and make their paintings glow. Me, I’m starting with the basics.
First take a large serving of patience. Glazing involves using transparent paints and a special alkyd medium (I used walnut alkyd oil) to dilute the paint. Then after putting a thin light layer, you must let that layer dry before you can do anything else! That’s right….a few brushstrokes and ..come back tomorrow. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sigh.
So in the painting below I only used red, yellow, blue and white. I wanted the hand to look like ghostly moonlight. First I painted the hand white and the red bar at one side and the top stripe of yellow. Then I painted the square over the hand a dilute blue and then a dilute red and I got purple. Then I painted the stripes at the side. Then I pained the hand a light yellow (my original yellow mixed with a little white). Of course I had to let everything dry in between and then the red heart and the blue paw. Where the paw overlaps the red it is a dark purple, where it over laps the yellow hand it is blue. The same with the other colors. The paint that is used is classified as transparent or semi-transparent and it is diluted with walnut alkyd oil medium rather than linseed oil or turpentine.
I like to paint wet over wet where you paint with layers of wet paint over other layers of wet paint. Sometimes I wait to let a layer dry so I can have a pure color and it won’t mix with the under-layers of paint.
But glazing you have to let each layer dry. But it is worth it. The next layer you put on, like putting one pane of stained glass over another, is blended by your eye to give you a new color, and more depth and luminosity. You really need to see the result with your eye on the canvas because it doesn’t photograph well.
So I did two somewhat abstract designs, Hearts and Paws, and Hands, Hearts, and Paws. I used only three colors, red, blue, yellow and white. Any other colors you observe is what you eye sees after one layer of one color is laid over the dry layer of another color.
So finally, I had the technique to do moonlight.
And here is my little Pyr at Moonlight Play.
I am now working on the largest canvas I have ever used. It is 18 inches by 24 inches. It has a theme again of Pyrs in moonlight. I hope to make the moonlight in the next one a little less intense yellow and make it look a little more like real light rather than a “beam me up Scotty” Star Trek beam. Getting better takes practice and trying new things. But it’s fun to branch out.