Sunday, June 21, 2009

A try at acrylics...

acrylic on hardboard panel, 12x9 inches

It has been a very very long time since I've painted with acrylics. I decided to get a few tubes and give it a try, for location work ("au plein air"), to eliminate the hassle of transporting wet paintings along with gear. Whenever I try new materials, I always like to do something fairly representational, because that gives me an idea of how the material behaves, and how I need to modify how I do things to get it to do what I need. It was a startling change from working with oils! Since I was working in studio primarily to get the feel, this is done from a photo I'd taken some years ago on the Oregon coast. (I'll explain the title in a minute.) This is not something I'll frame, but it was fun to do.

Acrylics have changed a lot since I last used them. I am using acrylics from a highly respected maker. Very nice feel, very nice dry appearance. I was working inside on a humid day, so no problem with overly fast drying. I had some false starts and had to work a bit to get the feel of the paint. It simply handles differently from oil, in my memory more so than the acrylics of the 60s and 70s-- at least this brand. Slicker, smoother, less body than oil (though the color is wonderful). Disconcerting at first, I finally decided I like it. I suspect my use of it for strictly painting will be limited to certain situations, though. I still prefer oil. (It's easier to get out of hair and clothes, for one thing...)

One thing about acrylic that does appeal to me: the potential it and its various mediums have for doing multimedia works using various kinds of materials. That will be fun. I'll just need full cover.

Now, why I chose "Optimism" as the title for the painting above: there were actually quite a few people on the beach that day. All of them but one wearing hoodies, jackets, long pants and shoes. That's why I took this particular photo, and why I chose him to include in the painting. Usually when you see surfers along the Pacific NW coast, they are wearing wet suits. For good reason. The water is cold.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Painting on the Porch

Sun and Shade
pastel, 10x8 in

Busy, busy month. Rainy, rainy month. Busy, busy me. Getting paintings framed for show at a new (to me) gallery, putting in applications for other group shows and scoping out more galleries (hoping to place in several), jumping on the rare sunny days to work long hours in my garden to try to catch up (not there yet). Oh, yeah, and painting something every day, even if it is just a watercolor sketch or two in one of my notebooks. Forget housework-- no time.

The show is open and the opening went great. Finally took a breather, and gave up a rare sunny day to go paint and run errands, even though my vegie garden was calling out to be planted.

The Chaffee Art Center (in Rutland, VT) is sponsoring an open "Painting on the Porch" for artists every Wednesday. So I packed up some of my pastels, my small easel, and some paper. There we were, a beautiful day on the portico of an historic old house, surrounded by interesting subjects for doing plein air-- and every one else waas painting from photographs, sitting and chatting, with their backs to the scenery!

I poked around a bit, and set my easel up in a corner of the porch by the side entrance where I had a view of the street trees with a nice strong light and shadow thing going on. An extra benefit was that I was away from the traffic noise (the center is right on the main drag through town).

Though I usually work quickly in pastels, I found it hard to get as much done as I usually would in the time I had. I discovered right away that I had a problem with my materials: the weather has been so damp and humid that I had a problem with the pastel building up too fast, even with the light touch I tend to use. So this is definitely unfinished, and probably not something I'll do anything with.

The other artists were understandably curious about the setup I used and the way I set up the underpainting, and kept creeping back to ask questions. And of course, visitors would stop by to peek over my shoulder. This is normal for this kind of situation, though, and I enjoyed it.

I already have my spot picked out for next time, next to a small garden with a totem sculpture in back. And next time I'll bring my new acrylics to try out. I got them specifically to do off-the-beaten track plein air, because they dry quickly and are easier to carry out. But the Painting on the Porch events will be good practice too, because the short time will force me to work more quickly than I do with oils.

PS: The little ants never came back. Well, they checked the mailbox out, but didn't move in. So apparently the oil of rose geranium worked. But then they discovered my favorite spot in the living room to drink coffee and eat snacks. It was my fault. I let the first one escape. Now I eat my snacks in the kitchen. I don't know why they have never found my kitchen. It would be ant heaven.