Friday, October 31, 2008

Into the Light

"Into the Light"
Pastel on Pastelbord
Jan Gibson

This was done for a challenge at Let's Make Art and it was a challenge for me. It was a challenge because I haven't painted that many cats and this is another painting on Pastelbord by Ampersand which is a fairly new support for me. It was also a challenge because of the cat's face emerging out of the dark and into the light. I wasn't sure that I could get that effect right.

But, I'm fairly pleased with this painting. I'm not so pleased with the darkening of the pastel when I spray it with fixative. You may remember the little bunny that I did. I sprayed it with a common, rather cheap fixative and it also turned very dark.

This time I used the expensive Lascaux fixative because I'd heard that it didn't change the color of the art. I followed the advice of many artists who have said to use very light layers of spray and not to saturate the painting with the fixative. Unfortunately, even with that advice, the pastel still darkened quite a bit and also left my dark background very flat looking.

The pastel pencils I use are water soluble and I'm beginning to think that any moisture whatsoever is going to melt the pastel enough to darken it. This would render glassless framing pretty much out of the question unless I can find some pastel pencils that won't melt with moisture.

So, this little kitty will get framed the old-fashioned way and I'll continue the search for a way to frame pastel without glass!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spirit Horse?

"Back to the Wind"
pastel on black stock
copyright Jan Gibson

I seem to have done several things in the past few days that are pretty much out of the norm for me. The first is the pastel painting of the horse shown above which just about painted itself. It also broke the artistic slump I've been in for some time for which I'm very grateful!

I posted this painting at one of my art forums and one responder said that it made her feel slightly disturbed because it looked ghost-like. I guess the translucent quality of the painting might give that impression but it was never intended to do so.

I think it came out this way because I'd been looking at photos trying to spark an interest in painting again and had found a bunch of carousel horse photos. None really moved me to paint them though.

Then, I've been spending a lot of time with my own horse as she evidently got tangled in a fence as her front legs are cut just above the hooves. She also was limping slightly on a rear leg probably as the result of the same incident. So, she's been receiving treatments to the cuts several times a day and I've also had to give her "horse aspirin" and a powdered antibiotic both of which she hates and refuses to take no matter how well hidden they are. As you can imagine, she's been on my mind a lot.

I think the carousel horse photos plus being with Bonnie so much merged in my mind to become the above painting. A blend of reality and fantasy. It's also similar to the painting of the dog, Lucky, that I posted here some time ago. Maybe that's the direction my art is supposed to take as both paintings came quickly and naturally to me. However, only certain subjects lend themselves well to this style and I think I'd get bored very quickly if it's all I ever painted!

Oh, well, enjoy the horse - perhaps there will be more in this style in the future (or maybe there won't)!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Bindweed Blossom
Jan Gibson

Well, I've finally done something with the new Open acrylics by Golden I bought. It's not a masterpiece by any means but just a sort of doodle to see how the paints handle. I have a lot more practice to do to learn how to make smoother transitions and blend better but I'm very pleased with these paints and hope to do a lot more with them.

I'm working on a couple of paintings with these paints right now and I hope to learn more with each one I do. I was getting a little frustrated because I couldn't get the smoothness I wanted with them so mixed in a little of the acrylic inks that I have and that seemed to help a lot. I've used the thinner and the medium that I bought with the paints, but neither gave me the results I wanted. The inks seemed to thin the paint without thinning the color along with it thus making the paint more manageable without the streaky look that the regular thinner gives.

The drying time for the paints is perfect for me. They've lasted a very long time on my plastic palette - some about nine days, covered, although I've mixed more paint into those original globs and also have very lightly misted the paints on some days. As far as drying time on a painting, it has ranged from just a relatively short time to overnight for a thicker application and depending on the support used.

Speaking of supports, my favorite is the gessobord so far. I've also used paper and canvas and would use those again depending on what kind of texture I wanted for my painting.

All in all, I heartily recommend these paints and that's something from someone who never liked to use acrylics in the past. These are so much easier to use and are a perfect solution for those who like the blendability of oils but want a shorter drying time.

I'll post more acrylic paintings as I do them. I'm moving slowly (and am fairly slow at painting anyway) but hope to eventually do many paintings in this medium.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Painting Slump and Arugula

I've been in a real painting slump here lately and can't seem to get the creative juices going. Part of that may stem from the fact that I ruined the little bunny painting by trying to finish it for glassless framing. It got so dark that it looks like one of those dirty, old masters paintings only without that old masters touch! I knew I should have left well enough alone with it but I was in too big a hurry to figure out the process to do away with mats and glass for pastels! I haven't had the heart so far, but I'm going to see if I can salvage it by painting over it. Since it has several layers of Kamar varnish on it, I don't know if I should work over the top of it. Maybe the best thing would be to just re-paint the piece from scratch!

That's the bad news but I also have a couple of pieces of good news.

First of all, the arugula is up in the garden and we had arugula in our salads the other evening! I also had a sandwich with arugula on it. I got hooked on arugula long before it became an "in" green. The owners of the place where I worked in the late 80's took a trip to Italy and brought some seeds back with them (I don't know how they got them through customs). They didn't know exactly what arugula was but knew we liked to garden so gave those seeds to us. My husband hated it but I was enraptured by that nutty flavor that turned slightly hot in some of the plants as they aged. I didn't think to save the seeds but later ordered more from a specialty seed company and now the seeds are even available at a local garden center so we can plant it just about any time we want. Even my husband has grown to like it.

The second piece of news is that I ordered the (fairly) new "Open" acrylics by Golden and they should arrive on Monday. I'm excited about them because they're supposed to behave more like oil paints and not dry as quickly as regular acrylics do. I gave up on oils a long time ago because of the smell but it was the first medium I ever learned and I always enjoyed the oil painting process.

I also ordered the Golden mediums suggested by Gary Ruuska for sealing and varnishing colored pencil paintings. I'm hoping they will also work with pastel. With the cost of art supplies skyrocketing (like everything else), it would be nice to be able to frame without glass and save a little in that department. The main thing is the time savings though. It's just quicker to frame when you don't have to cut a mat and backing board or glass and assemble all of that together. I've just got to work out the best method for sealing the pastel art so that it doesn't darken. There are new products on the market all the time and I'm sure something will eventually work.

Anyway, if you don't see me here for a while, you'll know I'm holed up in the studio playing with the Open acrylics! Maybe they'll be the push I need to get painting again!