Friday, January 30, 2009

Hot Buttons

a digital painting
by & copyright to
Jan Gibson

I'm really a very easy-going person, but I have to admit that there are a few things that push my buttons, most of them having to do with art.

The one that pushed a button today is that digital painting is cheating or requires no skill or talent because the computer does it all. I have italicized the word painting because my mentor, Fred Taylor, always said that if you had to have a computer to do a piece of art then it was digital art. Digital painting on the other hand uses the computer just as a painter of any medium uses the tools of that medium but the process of painting is the same.

I don't know whether I actually have talent or not - everyone has their own preferences and tastes and art is so subjective that an artist will hear it both ways. But I know I have skill in digital painting and I know that it takes skill. If you don't think so, I challenge you to try it.

I started painting digitally about 2001 which is roughly 8 years ago. In all of those years, I've never had a computer just start painting all by itself. And I've never heard of anyone else who has had it happen with their computer either. So, just how is the computer doing all the work?

I've had other artists say "yeah, well, you just push a button on the computer and the software does the painting." There is software, and I consider this digital art, that will distort a photograph in a way that it resembles an oil painting or a watercolor or some other art medium but there's no software on the market that will actually conceive of an idea and paint a painting at the touch of a button.

Or they will say digital painting is cheating because of the undo button! I always tell them that I'll disable the undo option if they'll throw away their erasers or scrapers or other methods for correcting mistakes.

True digital painting starts with an idea, then usually a sketch, then paint is applied in exactly the same manner that a traditional painting develops. The difference is like the difference between oil and watercolor for instance. A different kind of paint and a little different tools but the one thing that truly makes a painting lies behind the eyes of the artist, not in the tools they use.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Catching Up

Well, the snow is gone except in the deepest shadows and I truly ended up in bed under the electric blanket for the duration!

There's been some kind of virus going around and it utterly slammed me from Tuesday night until Friday. I normally don't get sick so it was a real surprise to say the least.

Anyway, I'm back and trying to make up for lost time!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Do You Learn?

Monochromatic Watercolor
from a Wet Canvas tutorial
Jan Gibson

I signed up for a sort of class on an art forum I belong to and have been wondering if I've done the right thing. I'm not someone who wants kudos all the time (although they're sure nice from time to time - grin) but I prefer real help and really want to learn as much as I can.

The reason I'm wondering if this class will be useful is because of the way I learn.

It only dawned on me today that I learn things a lot differently than many of my cohorts. I remember finally getting internet service way back in the year 2001 (hey, we're really rural!) and being utterly smitten with things called sig tags made in Paint Shop Pro. There were also neat greeting cards and beautiful designs on a variety of cyber objects and I just had to have this marvelous software.

Well, when I got it, I had no idea of how to even begin to use it. I had a couple of internet friends who said "the best way to learn it is to just play with it." Yeah, right - it's the best way for them since that's the way they learn but not me.

I finally found hundreds of tutorials online with step-by-step instructions with photos on how to do just about anything in this magical program. They were life-saving as I've discovered that step-by-step, in detail, is how I learn best.

Once I understand the basics of something, I can take off and fly on my own and even become pretty inventive but it's getting those basics in a way I can understand that is so difficult.

I must be in the minority when it comes to painting, especially with watercolor, as most tutorials aren't in a real detailed step-by-step format. And the WIPs that everyone else loves? They still leave me wondering "How'd you do that?!!"

I think it's important to know the way you learn best so you can match up workshops with instructors that fit your way of learning. It would also be helpful for workshop instructors to be specific about the way they teach.

So, my question is, will this class help or just increase my frustration? When I asked more about the class, I was told that it would be anything we wanted it to be. Now that helps, doesn't it?

OK, so how do you learn?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barbara, This is For You!

Looking Out over the Back Hayfield
Jan Gibson

Ok, Barbara, this is what you're missing by not being here! Aren't you glad you decided not to move here to live?

This photo was taken about an hour ago and there appeared to be about 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground with more coming down thickly as you can see. It's still falling hard and fast and the weather people say we have about another hour to go before it moves on out.

We'll probably end up with about 4 inches of snow which will probably hang around for another day or so then melt in the coming 50+ degree temperatures!

But there is good news - yesterday I went to lunch with a friend to a suburb of Raleigh and there was a Border's bookstore in the same shopping center. I found two great how-to books on painting, one on watercolor and the other on watercolor, gouache, oil & acrylic so I'm going to hunker in and try to do a little learning today.

The only problem I foresee is how to keep the electric blanket over my head and still do the painting exercises in the books! Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Temperature Update

The temp this morning

OK, Teresa, Jeanette, Teresa Mallen and Barbara! I admit to being a real pansy when it comes to cold weather! Actually, I think pansies like it much better than I do as they're planted in the fall or very early spring here.

But just look at that thermometer reading! And I don't know what the wind chill is but there is a slight breeze.

Bon had not been quite as good to me this morning when I went to the barn but I took one look at the mess and decided to wait until later today to clean up. It was only one pile of "doo doo ettes" but the cold was cutting right through my gloves and I figured she could live with the mess for a couple of hours! After all, she made it. Wonder if I could train her to clean up after herself? Nah, it's obvious she likes having maid service!

My husband just called to me from the kitchen and said the temperature had fallen to 7.3 degrees (F) - oh joy! wonder what the final low will be?

If this keeps up, don't expect any further posts - I'm going back to bed and pull the covers over my head until spring! Oh, yeah, and the electric blanket will be cranked up as far as it can go!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Freezing!

Window Indoor?Outdoor Thermometer

I imagine any readers in Canada and the Northern states of the US are laughing at my statement that it's freezing here but we just aren't used to these kind of temperatures! It's pretty rare that we get even temperatures at the freezing mark for any length of time during the winter. Of course, it does happen, it's not unheard of, but when we do get these temps, it's still a major shock to the system!

The thermometer above shows the temperature a few minutes ago when I went to the barn to take care of my horse. The figure that says the indoor temperature is only 54 is skewed by the fact that the little wire that allows the outdoor sensor to go outdoors also allows just enough cold air to come in that it messes up the indoor temperature. However, it is pretty cool inside also and the heat has barely stopped running all morning!

I feel for all of you who are having minus 45 degree temps and huge snowfalls. But, I'll bet you're a bit better prepared for them than we are here. Since I lack a sturdy, warm winter coat (a hooded sweatshirt is usually sufficient for outdoor wear), you should have seen me dressed for the barn this morning! I was wearing my husband's orange down emergency coat that is issued where he works and I looked like an orange Michelin Tire man!

And thank God that my Bonnie B wasn't her usual messy self as the newly bedded stall was CLEAN! Of course, any wet spots could have been easily lifted as they would surely be chunks of ice. As it was, I was done in the barn in record time!

All I can say is that I hope everyone is staying warm in this unusually cold weather. Don't do anything foolish outside and be prepared for any emergency when driving.

Or, better yet, just stay inside and paint!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finally! Glassless Breakthrough (I Think!)

Artists are some of the most giving and sharing people I know! I've been almost fixated (pun intended) on glassless framing and have been in touch with many artists who were willing to share their methods and offer help and comments to me. Out of all the artists I contacted, only one didn't respond to my email and she may not have received it.

A couple of days ago I received an email from Jana at It's a Phine Life blogspot. She was very gracious and had answered my initial inquiry about glassless framing and we've emailed back and forth about it a few times.

Her last email included a close up of a pastel that she's working on and also a link to a watercolor that she painted on AquaBord and finished in a glassless manner. Little lightbulbs started going off in my head as I realized that the acrylic varnish I have been using is probably what is causing my dissatisfaction with my glassless framing results.

Her results were much different than what I've achieved and her methods for framing without glass are also different. For her pastels, she uses PVA for the sealing and sprays as she works. This results in little loss of the texture of the pastel. She also works on canvas although I haven't determined if that is a factor since PastelBord is also textured and she prepares her canvases to be wet-sanded fairly smooth so the normal canvas texture is changed. The final difference is that she uses soft pastels instead of pastel pencils.

As I studied her results then looked at mine, I saw that my varnished paintings looked like those acyrlic resin poured objects so popular in the late '70s and early '80s. You can't tell the difference between the mediums in my paintings but if you're using an acrylic product as thickly as I am, the result is bound to end up looking like an acrylic!

While I would like to have the UV protection of the Golden medium/varnish that I'm using, I really prefer the look of the pastels sealed with the PVA. It may be that I can achieve that look using a thinner application of the Golden varnish plus more build up of the pastel. I don't know, I just know that more experimenting is in order!

Thanks so much, Jana!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More on the Giraffe


I did manage to do a bit more on the giraffe watercolor painting but this will probably be it until tomorrow as I have stuff to do today.

Still not overly enthused with this but it may turn out all right. It seems that paintings that I don't particularly like at first sometimes do come around so I won't give up. I will take it slowly however.

Barbara, from Barbara's This and That blog, said she thought yesterday's giraffe looked like some kind of weird bird! I hope it's beginning to look more like a giraffe today! These things just take time to develop! lol

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giraffe - Small Update

Jan Gibson

The weekend was kind of hectic so I didn't get to paint and didn't get much done this morning either. I was just kind of dragging and haven't been in the mood to work on this. There are things that I don't like and I don't know whether I can salvage the painting or not.

So, to put off working on it, I decided to take a break and watch a little tv. I tuned into the View since they're supposed to have such interesting discussions. I'm not much of a tv watcher but I have seen the View before. It's gotten a little wild during those times but I could usually keep up with what was being said.

However, today I wandered into what could only be called a female version of the Jerry Springer show! Everyone was yelling at one another. I don't know who the guest was but they wouldn't give her much of a chance to speak and when she was allowed to say something, they immediately jumped on her again.

As I said, I've seen this show before when everyone was riled up but today was insane! Why do they even bother with guests that they know will provoke that kind of reaction?

Moreover, why do people even watch this show? And better yet, why was I watching it?!!! I guess Barbara Walters may give it some kind of sophisticated credibility, but from what I saw today, the viewers must be closet rednecks of the Jerry Springer ilk!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Giraffe in Watercolor - WIP

Jan Gibson

I've always had a thing for giraffes but don't paint them often. However, I've started another one and decided to post it as a wip (work in progress) here.

It's funny how you see all the little things that you don't see irl when you post online! I may need to start over as I see I didn't leave any "air holes" in the foliage! Well, there are other things too - good thing this is a wip!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Introducing ----


Coal, one of our dogs.

Jeanne G. left a comment asking about our dogs and why there aren't any pictures of them on my blog. I replied that they both hate to have their picture taken. However, this is a photo of our "purebred Lab" (joke) female who is not happy but will even put up with the camera if she's allowed to lay her head on my lap.

You can see how unhappy she is about the camera by the way her ears are plastered so flat to her head. Normally they are are in a relaxed state and sometimes (especially if there's food involved!) they're even all perked up!

We have both a male and a female Lab (?) mix. They are not litter mates but are about the same age. Both are rescues and little is known about their lineage. We got the male first but since I was working everyday at that time, we thought he might enjoy another dog to keep him company.

We like Lab mixes and try to adopt black animals whenever we can since they're often overlooked by people desiring a dog. When a local rescue group advertised a purebred, black Lab puppy, we decided to go take a look at her. When we arrived at the foster home, we saw a short, squatty black puppy with ears that nearly reached the floor! We instantly knew that this was no purebred Lab! But, she was sweet and housebroken so we took her home with us for a trial run to see if she would get along with our male.

She has the temperament of a Beagle and who knows whether the black coloring came from a Lab or just some neighborhood black dog. But, we've had her for over 13 years now and have become used to her un-Lab-like quirks.

I guess we'll keep her!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I guess this is the obligatory post on the first of January but there's nothing trite about it even though the message may sound familiar.

From my heart I want to wish you a wonderful, fulfilling, healthy and prosperous year - in short, the best year you've had to date!

Happy New Year everyone!