This is another larger one at 36 X 48 inches in size. I wanted to capture some of the aspects of nature without making it relative to size. At the bottom I have painted some pollen grains that I think have a wonderful abstract quality. This painting is bright, without being overwhelming. If you look carefully you’ll find a tiny homage to the first video game I played and also a pair of my tired eyes after painting the many very tiny details this painting holds.
A good number of my characters have a story in my head. In fact a whole life, a family, growing up, and occupation and a sense of ethics or not. None of this is told in the painting. You get to see, in a Kodak moment, a snippet in time from their imaginary life. One of these characters is Foxy. Here, in The Trickster in Love we see him as a young fox, in love with the idea of falling in love, tracking it down and planning it’s capture.
Instead, when Foxy finds true love, it overwhelms and transforms him. So I painted his wedding in the enchanted forest.
Dan bought me several books on art for Christmas. One subject really surprised me. Winston Churchill as a painter! At the end of a book detailing his work, was a wonderful poem by Rudyard Kipling. I must share it with you.
L’Envoi To “The Seven Seas”
When Earth’s last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it — lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets’ hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from — Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!
And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!
I love little books. Pretty little books for writing notes in, books with thicker paper for drawing and silk and art covered books I always plan to fill with wonderful poetry but never quite do. I love filling them cover-to-cover and I’ll share some of what I put in one of them below.
I was quite inspired by this little book I bought in Katonah, NY yesterday. I love the cover, the fertile Goddess figure inviting me to embrace my art and fill it with wondrous views of my world.
But usually I find the plans I make for a little book usually turn out differently than what I first imagine. This is my little book I started doing sketches in for 2014-2015. I find when I am stuck waiting somewhere, rather than moaning how my time is being wasted I pull out a pen or a pencil and start scribbling. I keep a mechanical drawing pen and a drawing fountain pen filled with scribblers ink in my makeup case, in my purse. Time then flies, and I find sometimes my scribbles are just scribbles but sometimes they crystallize a memory. None of these are meant to be great drawings. Some only took 30 seconds to do. I’ll share a few I like below.
It’s nothing particularly special, it’s about 5 x 7 inches so I can fit it in my purse or hold it and sketch wherever I go. Such as,
30 second drawings at an art gallery:
Or a moment when housebound during an icy winter storm:
For the next I must introduce you to my dog, Gwyn, a wonderful energetic English Shepherd that usually looks like this:
Yes, that is all four paws not touching the ground!
So when I spotted a rare moment of repose:
But sometimes life drives art, when I saw this of course I had to draw it:
My new book will be filled with wonders. Some will just be playful scribbles, that I won’t share with anyone, but I will enjoy in the moment. I will crystallize moments in time that should not be forgotten in a way more personal and lasting than a social media selfie. And with every line I make, I get just a little bit better as an artist.
I encourage you to get a little book. Fill it with doodles, sayings, quotes, poems, or lists. It will become something more than the sum of its parts when you have filled it cover to cover.
Meanwhile, I have a request to go out and find some inspiration outside.
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.
I’ve been trying to buy local lately, and buy things made in America. I sometimes find what I need isn’t available, or if available, visible. The go to place used to be Etsy but that has grown from a community of local artists and craft people, to re-sellers, and too many items to effectively sort though to find things. I often even find what they are offering is shipping from China.
So what to do? The solution I believe is to become a maker. Make something, scarves, candles, soap, dishcloths, accessories for painters, knitters, cooks or whatever your heart desires. As much as you can, buy things from local sources. I’m not talking about the big box craft stores either. Then find an outlet to get it to market, local holiday craft shows, farmer’s markets, or another local storefront.
I decided to make beeswax candles and sell them via my local Putnam Arts Council Holiday Craft show. The truth of the matter is that even if I sell them all I won’t make a lot of money. But I will have circulated a few of my dollars through beekeepers (and we all know how important bees are to our food supply). The Arts Council will get a cut and people who I know and like will get something beautiful. Beeswax is a healthier wax to burn in your home as well. So this supports good things in my community.
So this season, let’s put beautiful things out there for the eye and the soul, and interact with those groups we want to support. And let’s not buy things that are made that pollute the environment, and ignore the rights of creatures great and small.
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.
This was the second Mischtechnik painting I did. There were a few stages where I really felt like I had created an ugly duckling that just wasn’t going to work. But here they are from start to end. I didn’t take a picture toward the end of every single step, so know there were a few more steps than shown. In contrast to my first painting, this one was done on board. My post on making egg tempera or emulsion can be found Here.
Title: Apparition of a Local Form (above)
Another playful one I’ve done in this style (I’ll skip all the steps as I gave you above) is The Monster in the Closet (below). What if there were monsters in your closet and what they really wanted were your accessories? (Grin).
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.