A Little Easy Texture

Sometimes I just like to rub my hands over a painting to feel the bumps and lumps and grit of the acrylic texture. It makes me happy; it makes the surface mine; it shows my process.

The painting above is a small, 12×12″ canvas with lots of texture. I wanted to create a landscape minimal elements but with the look and feel of nature. The sky was painted; the mid ground forms were collaged using acrylic skins (a future blog post) and the foreground was created with fiber paste.

I spread Golden’s fiber paste over the bottom half of the canvas; let it dry, then painted the absorbent surface. With a drybrush of blue on top of the painted texture, there’s subtle tonal and value shifts and a more pronounced textured look.

The videos  below show my process of working with fiber paste. The videos are only a few seconds long just so you get a feel for the application of the medium.

Unlike the painting above, where I applied the paste directly to the canvas, this series of videos shows me creating a fiber skin that I will collage onto a future painting.

As the video shows, I use acetate sheets for the process.

A cute product shot!

Applying the paste to the acetate sheet. Plastics sheets and bags will also work for this. And if you spread out the paste evenly and smoothly you can create something that looks like a sheet of rough watercolor paper. By the way, fiber paste is made with mineral fibers rather than paper or material fibers. It makes the medium more archival.

Odd little photo, but it shows me using a razor blade scraper to lift the dried fiber paste off the acetate sheet. You need to let the freshly applied paste dry overnight before removing from the acetate.

This is a three minute video that shows ripped and torn pieces of dried fiber paste being collaged to the painting surface. And you’ll notice I’m demonstrating upside down. That’s a skill!! I use soft gel medium to apply the fiber sections. Any of the gels can be used as a glue for collaging. The heavier the gel viscosity, the heavier the collage material can be. Notice I use a piece of waxed paper to press down on the glued fiber. By placing a clean piece of waxed paper each time over the fiber surface, and by pressing firmly and evenly without moving the waxed paper, you prevent gel medium from overlapping the fiber paste. If gel medium does cover the paste in sections, those sections won’t be as absorbent as the uncovered fiber paste. I wiped up excess gel with a paper towel.

Once the gel has dried and the fiber paste piece is firmly glued, paint the surface. You can also mix paint with the wet fiber paste before spreading and drying the paste. Heavy body or liquid paints can be used.

In this video, I drybrush blue paint over the surface creating a look similar to the one in the painting at the top of this post. The paint clings to the high spots of the texture creating depth and often contrast and vibrancy.

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Paint and Charcoal

treescharcoal

Played in the studio yesterday to create this acrylic and charcoal landscape painting. I used charcoal, matte medium, white and black paint.

Starting with a 12 x 12 canvas, I applied some gel medium with a palette knife to create texture. After the medium dried, I painted the canvas white. I used the matte medium to create tooth on the surface to hold the charcoal and I started working the charcoal into the surface while the matte medium was wet which caused the charcoal to soften and smear. Once the medium was dry, I applied more charcoal and then, with a small bristle brush loaded with matte medium I worked the charcoal to create the image. To clean the brush, I simply wiped it on the mid and foreground of the painting to create the soft grays you see in the photo.  The process required several layers of medium and charcoal and once I was satisfied, I used a small bristle brush to add some gray snow to the mid ground  using the black and white acrylic then used a shop towel to wipe some pure white over the foreground.

The painting is ready for any additional coats of paint or for a final varnishing without fear of smearing the charcoal and losing the tree pattern.

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Lovin’ The Paste

walkwithme

I love Golden’s light molding paste. I wipe it on, spread it on with a palette knife or used credit card, brush it on…no matter, the goal is texture. And I want a fine, subtle texture that allows layers of chunky color to show through on the finished artwork.

For this painting, called “Walk With Me” (18” x 18”), I started by spreading the molding paste in the lower half of the canvas. The image was inspired by the farm across the road so I knew I only wanted texture in the lower half. I let the paste dry overnight then started adding color mixed with matte medium over the entire canvas.

This time, I used a very limited palette of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Cerulean Blue, Ivory Black and Titanium White.  I mixed a pale red/orange and covered the sky; I mixed a darker red/orange and scrubbed the color into the molding paste on the bottom half of the painting. That was it for the first day. I applied some gloss gel medium to the sky area to protect the orange and to create a textured surface for the next color. And I let this dry overnight.

Next day, I painted the sky using a shop towel and mixtures of white and blue with a little black. Then I wiped back the color to let mostly red/orange show through. Using the palette knife and a shop towel, I spread green and orange over the bottom half. The greens were mixes of black and yellow and white with a little blue here and there and the orange was yellow and red and black and sometimes white. By applying the green color over the molding paste with a palette knife, the green hit the high points of the molding paste letting some of the red/orange basecoat show through. And where I didn’t want too much texture, I simply wipe the paint with a shop towel.

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Greens and Greens and Blues

shadows

“Shadows”; acrylic; 20 x 20″

Once again my backyard acted as model. But it wasn’t the landscape that captured my attention. Instead, it was the shadow in the lower right; a shadow cast by my studio. The shadow seemed to be leading the viewer in a specific direction and that direction was back into the woods, into the forest with its strong mix of shadows punctuated by brights spots of light.

Rather than being faithful to nature, I used my own color scheme – an analogous scheme which, to me, seems to create a quiet, peaceful mood. And I moved a couple of trees around to suit the composition!

Color palette for this painting was Nickel Azo Yellow, Raw Sienna, Napthol Red Medium; Transparent Red Oxide, Phthalo Blue (green shade), and Titanium White.  And the paint was applied with a brush, painting knife, credit card and shop towel. The challenge was to make a simple color scheme work by using a range of values and temperature shifts with the warmer colors in the background to draw attention to that area. The shadows seem to be on the outside of the forest; the woods appear more inviting.

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Red and Blue Can Make Green

aftertheraiinlowres

I’m not fond of the color green. As a landscape painter that can be a bit of a problem. I’ve tried mixes of warm and cool yellows with warm and cool blues and I use some of those mixes in my paintings. I can’t say they make my heart sing.

So my challenge is to create peaceful, soft landscapes using as little green or yellow-green as possible. I push my greens towards blue-green ( or yellow, or orange, or…)!

A few months ago I painted a blue foreground that seemed a little strident. I toned the blue with a glaze of transparent red iron oxide and a whole new world opened to me.

Using red and blue (Transparent Red Iron Oxide and Phthalo Blue (green shade)) I get a somewhat transparent green that can range in value from very dark to soft and light. It’s a green that makes me happy. Add a little more blue to the mix and the color becomes blue-green, add a little more of the red oxide and the green becomes very dark, add white and it’s a softer, lighter green. Mix with other colors on my palette and it holds its own. It’s a rich color mix that keeps me interested.

Using this red and blue combination with some bit players added for contrast, I built the above painting, “After the Rain”, 12″ x 16″ on cradle board. And in the photo below, I present my latest palette for landscape painting.

paintsformarchblog
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