Sunday, November 30, 2008

Watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord

watercolor on Aquabord
Jan Gibson

Well you gotta give me credit for persistence! lol I may not be able to use pastels on Ampersand panels for glassless framing, but I can still try with watercolors!

We had to go out for some horse feed this past Friday (so called "Black Friday") and we ended up fairly close to a Hobby Lobby. I think my husband felt kinda bad because he forgot to take me to Jerry's Artarama and their big trade show a couple of weeks ago so he insisted we stop and I was to get anything I thought I might need. Well, Hobby Lobby is not really a place to buy fine art supplies (do you think my husband realized this? lol) but I did buy some Ampersand Aquabord.

Aquabord is the close cousin to Pastelbord & I think I'm going to have to buy stock in Ampersand as I like all of their products I've tried so far (Pastelbord, Aquabord and Gessobord). I just like the idea of a sturdy board but one that's been well-sealed to be acid-free. I do wish I could get the pastels sealed so they could be framed without glass, but while I'm working on that, I've done a watercolor on the Aquabord to try out the process with watercolor.

This is the first painting I've done on Aquabord and it was like learning a different medium. Nothing seemed to work as it does on paper but I'm not the most proficient in watercolor either. However, I did manage the painting of the cockatoo above (reference photo courtesy of the Wet Canvas reference library).

I haven't sealed or varnished this yet as I'm not 100% satisfied with the painting and want to put it aside for a few days to see if I need to make any changes. That's one of the beauties of Aquabord, changes are very easy to make. As a matter of fact, I completely washed off a couple of painting starts before this one! That is so cool as watercolor is generally a very unforgiving medium and you usually have to start all over if you make a mistake! You rock, Ampersand!!! LOL!

I'll keep you posted on any changes and when I seal/varnish this painting. In the meantime, if you see anything I could change, just let me know. I'm not completely happy with this but just don't know where to go with it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Watercolor Painting

Jan Gibson

I finished this about a week ago but am just now getting around to posting it. The colors look a little washed out but if I try to fix them in my photo software, the painting gets a weird cast to it.

Anyway, this is an Italian Greyhound that I painted as a change of pace from pastel. The photo references were lousy but I'm the photographer so have no one to blame but myself! lol

Changing the subject, we are getting our first snow of the season. It was spitting snow a little bit when I woke up about 3 and when I let the dogs out a few minutes ago, it was coming down pretty good. The temperature is in the mid-thirties though and I know it won't stick.

We rarely get snow but they're (who are "they" anyway?) predicting a colder, perhaps snowier winter than we've had in recent years. Of course they don't know for sure what the weather will do in the next few weeks let alone the rest of the winter! Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part as snow is a four-letter word in my book! I guess I don't mind it as much as I used to because I don't have to drive in it or be out in it for any extended length of time. It makes the barn chores a little more difficult but otherwise, I can just stay here in the house and ignore it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Glassless Framing Experiments

Pastel Experiment

I've played around a bit more with the glassless framing and pretty much combined advice from several sources to try to find a method that would suit me and my way of working.

I like the idea of using the Golden materials as suggested by Gary Ruuska but dragging out all the air brush paraphernalia and the air compressor (which is actually my husbands and is noisy and bigger than I like) just isn't my idea of fun. The Golden products have UV protectants in them though and I do like that so I used the Preval sprayer per the directions in the email from Bob Palmerton. That sprayer is the cat's pajamas for the small amount of spraying that I'm doing. It's easily found in automotive parts or hardware stores or can be ordered online. It's not expensive at all and a canister of propellant seems to last and last. The spray is fine enough to give a nice finish to the art work too.

Since I have messed up so many Ampersand Pastelbord panels (and Ampersand isn't backing my experiments!), I decided to do my experimenting on regular matboard pieces and that seems to be working out well. The flower above is on a dark green matboard and I want to try a light color just to see if the colors darken as much when sprayed. BTW, the colors shown are pretty much the colors I ended up with after spraying. They darkened considerably and I did use progressively lighter colors but ran out of lighter colors that would work.

Teresa Mallen left a comment on my last post here and I wanted to reassure her about the Lascaux fixative and suggest she talk to Nicole Caulfield about it on colored pencil. I use pastel pencils for the most part which are water soluable to begin with. Colored pencil has wax or oil which would resist moisture plus, I read that Nicole uses a blender on top of colors that tend to change color or melt which preserves the color when sprayed. I may try that on top of my pastels just to see if it helps.

But, actually, right now, I think the process is much too long and too much trouble to make it worthwhile for pastels. Maybe in the future some product will come along that doesn't darken the pastel but will still seal it so that the art can be varnished and framed without glass.

As it is, I'm doing a pastel painting, spraying it with the diluted Golden Soft Gel as an isolation barrier, letting that dry then going back over the darkened areas with a lighter color (if I have one), respraying, letting that layer dry & on & on until I have a painting I'm satisfied with. Perhaps a landscape would be different as color changes maybe wouldn't be as obvious, but people expect their pet to have the correct color. Maybe at some point, I'll automatically know the light color with which to replace the color that darkens and avoid the back and forth of using progressively lighter colors. But, I wonder too if the build up is necessary to end up with the right color?

I'm not giving up entirely. I'll continue to experiment since I have all the necessary mediums to do so but I'm just not holding my breath that there will be a huge break-through in this area anytime soon.

Again, if anyone has any information about varnishing pastels, please feel free to contact me!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More on Glassless Framing

Well, I apologize for being a little slack posting here but I've been trying to find more information on framing pastels without glass. It's become rather an obsession in a way, but I just know in my innermost being that it can be done.

One of the questions I get from other pastel artists is "should it be done?" "Why cover pastel with a protective finish?" "Why isn't glass good enough any more?" "What about tradition?"

First, let me say that I love the look of a traditional pastel. It's one of the reasons I took up pastel in the first place.

However I don't like that pastel is so delicate nor the fact that great care has to be taken to frame and protect it. It doesn't ship well, especially to countries overseas. If there's a way to overcome these negative points of pastel and still retain the beauty of it, I'd really like to know about it.

As for tradition, well - what good is a traditional pastel if it accidentally gets bumped and all the pastel falls off? Doesn't using fixative to prevent this falling off make the painting less traditional anyway? Glassless framing basically just increases the amount of fixative so that the pastel dust is completely covered.

There's lots to explore here. I paint pet portraits mainly. I doubt very seriously if I'll ever be hailed as the next Rembrandt or anything close for that matter. The average person who commissions a pet portrait from me has a lot going on in their homes. If you've ever seen a cat high on cat nip, then you might be able to see the wisdom of a pastel painting with a glassless finish!

But, I'm getting off track here. My original purpose for this post was to publicly thank all the artists who have responded to my requests for information on this subject or who have piqued my curiosity to begin with. The generosity of artists in general never ceases to amaze me.

Nicole Caulfield got the wheels turning for me when she posted about the glassless framing of colored pencil at an art forum I belong to. Of course there's a difference in pastel and colored pencil but she had some of the same issues as I've experienced - namely color shifts/darkening of the pigment and the pigment just melting away. Her posts sent me in search of other pastel artists who may have been experimenting with this process to see if glassless framing could actually work with pastel.

Gary Ruuska, a contemporary of Nicole Caulfield, and an exquisitely talented colored pencil artist himself, was the first to respond to an email from me asking about his method of sealing and varnishing colored pencil. He began with Nicole's method but eventually developed a method of his own that didn't use the smelly aerosol sprays.

I found Sandra K. Jackoboice, a pastel artist, by searching for glassless framing of pastels. She was generous enough that her process was posted on her website for download. It was her article that gave me real hope that glassless pastel framing could actually work.

Bob Palmerton is the latest artist to respond to my request for more information on his process. Because his method is specific to pastels, his very generous reply was very helpful.

William Ross with the Pastel Society of the Ozarks also responded to an email from me with information.

I just want to thank all of them for the help they've given me. Thank you all!