Thursday, December 13, 2007

Upcoming Show: Chiura Obata

While perusing the Smithsonian Museum of American Art website to find out exactly where Ross’s painting demo will be, I came across the following on an upcoming exhibition.
Obata's Yosemite
Feb. 22 through June 1, 2008
In 1927, Chiura Obata (1885–1975) visited Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada, where he made approximately 100 drawings in pencil, watercolor and sumi ink. Between 1928 and 1932, while Obata was in Tokyo, he transformed these California landscape watercolors and sketches into a limited-edition portfolio titled "World Landscape Series." "Obata's Yosemite" features 27 prints and watercolors and a series of approximately 21 progressive proofs. This display is the first time the artist's prints have been publicly exhibited on the East Coast. Joann Moser, senior curator for graphic arts, is the curator of the exhibition.

Curious, I googled the painter Chiura Obata and came across this terrific website: Obata’s work includes terrific block prints, water colors, and sumi-e.

Ross Merrill Lecture on and Demonstration of Durand Style

Asher B. Durand was one of the Husdon School painters. A show of his work is currently up at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. See below for info on Ross's lecture and demo.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Painting Demonstration, Kogod Courtyard
12:00 PM
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Ross Merrill, painter and chief of conservation at the National Gallery of Art, demonstrates plein air painting and discusses challenges artists face in working outdoors. Merrill, who was inspired by Asher B. Durand’s sketches on view in SAAM’s third floor special exhibition galleries, explores Durand’s palette and painting method as part of this demonstration.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Youtube demos, etc.

Meanwhile, I have found more interesting painting demos on Youtube.

Theo Jenson is a physicist/sculptor who is making amazing wind-driven walking “creatures.”

Watercolor demo. This guy does a great job using just a hake brush and a rigger.

Liquid pencil, this is an interesting medium:

Banana, in preparation for those of you who will be taking the Chardin class:



Great Chinese calligraphy cartoon:

Love this guy’s (gal’s) animation

Spray painting, stenciling, and scratching out:

Non-Toxic Solvent

I just found the Sporny Solution on Judson’s website. Non-toxic solvent and mediums for oil painting:
I don’t know anything about the archival integrity of the products.

Judson’s also has a neat travel tag that says:

Contents: Professional artist’s
pigments of vegetable origin –
NOT combustible. Thank you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What I discovered at Easton

Patricia and I went down to Easton at the end of July for the Quick Draw Competition. We drove down in the morning to get oriented and scout out a venue to paint. Painting was like running a marathon. A horn went off when painting started at 2 pm and it was brushes down when the horn sounded at 4 pm. Then we put our wet paintings into frames and set up our easels and paintings for the show. Patricia acquitted herself quite well—yours truly made a mess—nice colors, everyone said, but a dreadful painting (they were kind enough not to say that last bit.) But we had a dandy time and met lots of people, including Donni. We also saw some terrific paintings and some not so terrific.

After that, I realized that I do not have a grip on value, and so have been doing black and white still lifes since then. I have been doing the exercises in Charles Sovek’s book Oil Painting: Develop Your Natural Ability. I have been working on Canson Canva-Paper, which I find I really like and has the advantage of being relatively cheap and easy to store. I was feeling a little constricted by the 9x12, so moved up to 12x16. Sovek’s direction is to mass shapes rather than draw lines. That is, start with a blob of paint in the middle area of where you are putting the shape on the canvas and then push the paint out to find the edges. So that is what I did for these two.

I find that working in black and white and mixing the fine gradations of grey really fine tunes the eye’s perception of value. I went for a hike in the park a few days ago (I hadn’t been out for a few weeks because of the heat and schedule) and was amazed at how clearly the values of everything I looked at stood out. So, I will be doing a lot more value studies. So far I have been painting objects that actually are white, black, or grey. The next step is to paint objects that are colored and accurately represent their values in a grey scale. I find working in black and white on canvas paper liberating, because I am not worried about making "a painting" and the materials are relatively inexpensive. So I am discovering many things about paint application, such as the direction of the brushstroke affects how light or dark that stroke appears due to the direction of the light falling on it, different ways of achieving a soft edge, and the effects of paint over paint, such as dry brush dark over light or vice versa and mixing color on the canvas. Without the distraction of color, errors are apparent, so critiquing and problem-solving are easier. Here I did a line drawing first. I am working on one more that I started with a line drawing, and then it is back to massing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Plein Air Painting Demo

I am turning into a youtube junkie. Here is a nice demo to whet your appetite for Easton.

Easton Plein Air Competion and Arts Festival

This takes place on Saturday July 28th in about a 4-block area in downtown Easton. “Quick Draw” painting is between 2 and 4 pm, awards at 4:30; and exhibit and sale is between 4:30 and 6 pm. Paintings must stay on exhibit until 6 pm.
There is a $10 registration fee. You can register up until 12 noon on the day of the competition (at the Plein Air-Easton! Hospitality Center at Coffee East, Washington and Goldsborough Streets) or beforehand on line ( Pre-registration recommended as space is limited.
Is anyone interested in going down in the am, having lunch, and then cruising Easton and scouting for a painting site? The site map includes restroom locations.

Watercolor Notes

While watching Steve Fleming’s Paint Alexandria demo, I noticed his brush, which looked like an oriental brush, and the lines he was getting out of it. It was a Silver Brush company “Black Velvet.” ( I ended up ordering a few (best price I found was at Dick Blick). They are a Synthetic-squirrel combination, hold a lot of water, and shake out to a very fine point, so they are quite versatile. While not a true oriental, I used them to paint some respectable bamboo (those of you who do Oriental brush painting will get the picture here.), although I did that with watercolor, not ink.

The Lunchtime Sketch
I now carry a watercolor kit to work, and nearly every day do a sketch at lunchtime. I have the good fortune to work near a botanical preserve, so there is no lack of subject matter—creeks, ponds, waterfalls, wild flowers, tons of trees, chipmunks, deer, lots of birds, and the ubiquitous squirrel. Not that any of the fauna stick around long enough for me to draw, never mind paint, aside from the Canada geese. Some days are better than others, but progress is definite and most of what I learn in the process is applicable to oil painting. The sketch book is also a diary of sorts and a pleasure to leaf through. This is a great habit to get into.
My kit is a small backpack (LL Bean junior backpack) with:

1. Sketchbook.

2. A Richeson tri-fold palette (9-1/2x 12”) ( I got this from Utrecht’s, it has 18 DEEP wells and an interior lid that folds over the wells (I place a long, narrow plastic bag—like the ones some stores will put the brushes you purchase in—with a piece of folded paper towel inside the bag for padding to help seal the wells for transport when paint is wet). The palette has room for 6 or 7 w/c brushes and good mixing area. I have seen folding w/c palettes with a well seal on cheap joes and jerry’s artorama websites (

3. A tri brush washer (about 3x3-1/2x1) when nested ( or This is a nifty little do-hickey, with three containers that nest for storage. It has a handle, and is quite stable when the three containers are hooked together. I got mine at Utrecht’s, but they didn’t have them last time I was there. I carry water in a small springwater bottle and pour it into the container when ready to paint.

4. An old chloraseptic spray bottle, with water and a little gum Arabic. The bottle is small and cylindrical, so relatively compact.

5. Brushes: 2 flat wash brushes, a liner, and an assortment of rounds.

6. Other stuff: Bug spray; Plastic trash bag to sit on; Piece of white candle; Pieces of blue paper shop rags; Pencil and waterproof micron pen; Eraser; Viewfinder.

Ross Merrill’s Watercolor Tips
For watercolorists who have not attended Ross Merrill’s workshops, here are a few tips from him.

1. Coating the paper with a solution of 1 package of Knox gelatin to three cups of water (boiling—let cool before using) makes lifting color off the page easier. I did the pages in my w/c sketchbooks (which are Strathmore Aquarius II, a synthetic rag, which I do not love). I coat each page and turn a hair dryer on it until the shine is gone before doing the next page. The next day I do the reverse side of the pages. (I save the gelatin in a jar in the fridge.)

2. Using a candle or piece of paraffin to hold out whites, or sections of a washed area, works well. Caveats: once it’s there, it’s there; it’s hard to see where you have put the wax. Making broad strokes using the side of the candle is a great way to preserve sparkles on water.

3. Gum Arabic. I am now a big fan of gum Arabic. It does three things, makes color easier to lift, keeps pigment from blooming (this can be counteracted with ox gall), and intensifies color. I put a bit in my spray bottle and use that to wet my paint. It does tend to make the paint a bit soupy—some pigments more than others (namely new gamboge and perinone orange)—and longer to dry, so take that into consideration when packing up your paint.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Watch This Guy Paint!

Dan Dunn puts on quite a show...I particularly like the two-handed brushwork!

He is also darned good with a spraycan:

And paints nice birds:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Photographing Art with a Digital Camera

Photographing Art with a Digital Camera
When I bought my digital camera, I thought it would be clear sailing—just snap those pictures and upload them—whoa—no! Color was off, images not clear, etc., etc. Looks like this could be the same as learning to use my old 55mm Minolta, and I am still working on getting satisfactory images of my art up on the web. However I did find an informative website on shooting art with a digital camera:
The main points are:
(1) Use a tripod.
(2) Set the ISO at the lowest setting possible—this gives you better resolution.
(3) Set the camera to capture the most pixels possible.
(4) Set the white balance to suit the light conditions, i.e., florescent, incandescent, daylight, etc.
(5) Unless it is an SLR digital, don’t use the zoom.
(6) Turn off the flash.
(7) Fill the frame with your art, and make sure edges of art are parallel to the edges of camera viewer frame/LED.
(8) Archive the original that you download, make copies to tweak, crop, etc.
I am still working on this--images are coming through on the blue side.
Also, note that the Art League has a class on photographing your artwork, starts 6/24.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Good Painting Websites If you attended Steve Fleming’s demo at the Paint Alexandria workshops, you know that he is a didactic entertainer and a brush master. I have just discovered his website. It features six lessons, which are informative monographs on: Brushwork; Paint from Memory; Painting Sunny Days; Abstraction/Simplification; Painting Process; and Value Pattern. While Steve is a watercolorist, much of his discussion is applicable to any mode of painting or two-dimensional work, and the lessons are well illustrated. Charles Sovek is an impressionistic New England artist. He has a terrific website, full of lessons on drawing and painting (Lessons from the easel); short monographs (Speaking of Art); and articles that have been published in various magazines. He has also written a number of books. Many, many of his paintings are up on the website. He is lively and colorful painter. This is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Painting, etc.

If you decide to go out and paint and want company--either send an email with date, time, and place, or put it in a comment, and I will post it under the "Time & Place" section.

If you have a web page (google pages are free) with your painting posted and want it linked to the blog, send over the URL. Also, if you have digital pix of any of your art, I'd like to post some on the blog on a rotating basis.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Frames by Mail

If you have been tearing your hair out over the cost of framing, check out They have metal and wood frames, and if you need mats, will cut the opening for you. Free Berkshire mat with frame order. They have a terrific tool, just put in your image measurements, pick out mat border size if needed and the tool calculates the size of the frame. Metal Nielsen frames do not come with hanging wire, but wood frames do. The prices are very good, as are the shipping rates. And delivery is within 7 business days. A wood frame for a 9x10 painting costs around $12 for the least expensive. Two other mail order companies, about which I know nothing, are and One of my watercolor teachers recommended American Frame Co. She mentioned one company that did a terrible job of cuttng mats, but I do not recall the name.

Let's Paint

Painting: Sat. June 9, am. waterfront park behind Duke St. Annex.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Let's Paint

Hi All,
It seemed that this would be a good way to communicate about when and where to paint, since everone will be able to post comments.