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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Let’s Make it Hot

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It’s always a bit of a challenge for me, working with warm colors. I prefer the soothing cooler colors of blue, blue/green with perhaps a touch of color from the warm side of the color wheel. But these hot humid days in the studio have inspired me to try warming up my palette. I want to create a series of landscapes using predominantly warm colors to reflect the current weather patterns.

This is the first in the series. So far it’s an untitled painting and it’s 12″ x 12″ painted with acrylics. I used my current standard palette of Hansa Yellow Medium, Napthol Red Medium, Phtalo Blue (green shade), Titanium White, and I added Transparent Red Iron Oxide to the palette to create some deeper warm tones.

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Here’s the first step to the painting. I randomly brushed the surface with some cool colors…just to get rid of the white…then I used a painting knife to apply light molding paste. The molding paste has a bit of tooth and would allow me to use drawing media like graphite or colored pencil on the surface at any stage. But as it turns out, I chose not to add calligraphy. The texture you see in the final painting is actually the molding paste.

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I covered the surface with a golden yellow then used an old, rough stain brush to apply the oranges.3

I think the hot colors gave me a headache! I toned down the surface here by drybrushing mostly white over the sky area and adding a blue path.

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Here I defined the path a bit more then brought some of that blue color up into the sky. To complete the image I added a few more lights, a few more darks and glazed the orange area in the front of the painting with several layers of Transparent Red Iron Oxide to tone and deepen the color.

 

 

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My Favorite Things – applicators!

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Raindrops on roses and whispers on kittens might be some of your favorite things. But some of my favorites are applicators! You know – those tools you use to apply paint to a surface. I’d call them brushes, but I only use a few brushes, the rest are, well, applicators.

Many of these allow me to work loosely and quickly, establishing shapes and patterns, working from large shapes to small shapes until applying the last few touches of paint with a brush.

The photo above shows my hard rubber roller. I use this to apply random vertical, horizontal or diagonal shapes to a canvas near the beginning of the process. The hard brayer skims over the surface applying color to the raised bits on the canvas. I’ll also often use a soft rubber brayer to apply more paint more evenly and/or a sponge roller which gives me a more opaque and smoother layer of color.

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Ahhh, my most favorite applicators. My painting knives (and I have many in a great assortment of shapes and sizes) are used to mix color on the palette, and to apply that color onto the surface. They give a textured application of color.

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Blue shop towels, grouting sponges, bamboo skewers and popsicle sticks can all work magic with a design. I can blend and smooth, and erase, with a dampened shop towel; wipe color or pounce color with the sponge and I use the wooden utensils to apply small dots and strokes of color.

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I use the drywall and wallpaper tools to apply large sections of broken color to a surface. Great to use over a gelled surface. The applicators just skim the tops of the gel peaks laying down thin, random spots of color.

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Catalyst tools are used to add color, move color and remove color.

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Old credit cards and room keys serve the same purpose as the drywall applicators, but I use them for smaller spaces. I often use the edge for tree trunks or field highlights in a landscape.

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And finally, my bristle brushes. I use these for small shapes where I want some control and for adding any final details to the painting.

 

 

 

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Watercolor Sketches

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My morning start. If I work small, if I work quickly and loosely, I can stir up whatever creative genes I possess to pump up the excitement, pump up the skill set for a day of painting.

This is my current sketchbook. It’s filled with watermedia sketches created in a matter of minutes once I turn on the lights in my studio each day.  I start with watercolor and often add casein. The watercolor is transparent; the casein helps me resolve the image with some opaque color.

I use a coil bound Field Series Watercolor Journal with 140 watercolor paper. Although I haven’t tried this Iexpect the journal would also work well with mixed media technique. The size I use is 6″ x 6″ but it comes in a variety of sizes and different cover colors. Here’s mine:

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I use Qor watercolor paints from Golden Artists Colors and Shiva casein available from Richeson Art. And today, I seemed to be extra enthusiastic so here a couple more sketches from this morning’s start up session.

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Deciding What To Do With The Skins

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This painting started with a little texture and whole bunch of random blue acrylic skins. I liked the skins so much that I filled the canvas. That turned the painting ugly.

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So I opened a jar of light molding paste and, with a palette knife, spread the paste over most of the canvas leaving only a couple of inches of the blue skins near the top.

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Then, over a period of several days, I used a dry housepainting brush and some analogous color to fill the top and bottom of the canvas. I held the brush almost flat to the surface and lightly scumbled in color to make the most of the textured patterns created in the molding paste.

I switched to a smaller brush to create some of the highlights on the cliff top edge and the background blues and I darkened some the blue areas to create contrast.

Then, after a final toning of the violet, I was done…five days later but happy with the effort.

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Warm Water

Warm waterThis is a recent painting based on a visit to Presqu’ile Provincial Park this past spring.

The subject seems to be a strong one for me since I’ve used this image in several paintings. The almost central image of a group of trees, for me, is iconic. It signifies a focused sense of community. But I called this painting “Warm Water” because of the foreground colors.

The painting was done on a cradle board. Several acrylic colors and values were poured onto the board using Liquitex pouring medium and left to dry overnight. I sanded the acrylic lightly to create some tooth then completed the painting with casein. I love using casein. Even after it dries to the touch it remains malleable allowing me to spritz, spray and scrape to create the design.

The acrylic area in this painting is the orange in the sky background and the warm oranges and yellows inn the foreground water.

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