Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prize Won Put to Use

Jan Gibson

Last month I entered a contest with my "Intense Pride" lion painting and won! I entered the contest mainly to prod me into actually painting a reference photo that had intrigued me for ages but I just didn't have the confidence to start it.

Anyway, I received my prize a couple of days ago which was a set of acrylic paints from Frank Clarke, Mr. Clarke hosts a painting show on PBS here in the US and I'm sure he has similar television programs in other countries.

Of course, I had to try out the paints and the magnolia above is the result. I have sooooo much to learn about acrylic painting but at least I've started! (See Teresa's post about procrastination on her Blueberries, Art and Life blog to understand why I said that!)

I've never really gotten into acrylic painting because of the issue of their drying time. It's incredibly fast and once dry, the paint can't be lifted or manipulated like watercolors can. The quick drying time also makes it very difficult to blend. Those are issues I'll need to come to grips with and resolve if I continue with acrylic painting. There are mediums and retarders and the like to use though and I do have some of them. I also have some of the Golden Open acrylics which stay wet, or "open", much longer than traditional acrylics.

So, considering the traits of these acrylics and the fact that I don't have much experience with acrylic painting, I hope you'll cut me some slack with this painting of a magnolia! lol I know it leaves a lot to be desired but I'm fairly pleased with it as a first effort!

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Pastel - Yorkie Puppy

"Yorkie Puppy"
Pastel on ColourFix
Jan Gibson

This is a painting I worked on this weekend. It's pastel on ColourFix, a sanded paper that I'm not real fond of using although I do prefer sanded supports over plain pastel paper. I think ColourFix would be just fine for land or sea scapes but it's really difficult to get good detail on subjects that need it. Also, it was next to impossible to get the little wispy bits of fur even with a very sharp pastel pencil. I think that could be pretty much solved by almost filling the tooth before adding the "wispies" but then it seems the pastel pencil just digs a trough instead of adding color. And that could solved by using a soft pastel on top but I don't own any and am hesitant to buy any as I don't particularly enjoy soft pastels. The pencils are great because my hands stay fairly clean and the dust is minimal. Regular soft pastels are too messy for my taste.

So, that's why I prefer velour or PastelBord for animal portraits - they just look softer and more realistic.

As I've said before, I like experimenting with the different media and materials and am definitely finding my favorites!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still Kicking Lions - errr, On a Lion Painting Kick

Lion _ ACEO 2-1/2 x 3-1/2"
Jan Gibson

I don't know what it is about painting lions lately but this will be my third one in about 2 months! Lions certainly aren't my favorite wild animal or anything but there is something compelling about them, isn't there?

I don't know how many of you remember watching Bob Ross paint on PBS, but if you do, then you heard him say to use "two hairs and some air" when blending. That was one of his stock phrases when he blended with that fat two inch brush of his!

I can almost say that this painting was done using about two hairs and some water! I like to paint relatively small, but it's so much harder to paint tiny and actually have it look like anything! This probably took as long to paint as a larger painting but it was fun.

The ref photo came from Wet Canvas and I think I'd like to paint a larger version of this guy. However, I think I'd use pastel the next time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lenten Rose and Who Are You?

"Lenten Rose"
Jan Gibson

This is what I painted yesterday. My husband really likes it (darkish background and all! lol) but it feels as if something is not quite right to me. Of course, I usually agonize over any watercolor painting and I don't know if it's that "watercolor doubt" or if something is really off with it. If you have a comment either way, I'd like to hear it.

I'd especially like to hear from those of you who visit on a fairly regular basis but never comment. Since I got the feedjit live traffic feed, I can see where my visitors come from but not who they are. At least now I know I do get visitors, but now I'm curious about them!

So, go ahead and comment and tell me about yourself. It's like that song from the Who that's played on CSI (Las Vegas) -"Who Are You? Who, Who?" lol

I'll go put the coffee on and you just come on in and make yourself comfortable. I like having visitors and may even whip up a batch of homemade blueberry muffins while the coffee is brewing!

Monday, March 16, 2009

'Tis The Season!

Pastel on Paper
Jan Gibson

As you can see, I wasn't referring to the Christmas season in the title of today's blog! The foxes haven't been seen for some time but the skunks have been fairly active for a month or more. Fortunately, we haven't seen any here on our farm but lingering odors are proof positive that they're definitely around somewhere.

This painting was sort of an experiment as I received some new FC Pitt pastel pencils in a recent art supply order. Almost everyone in a pet portrait forum I belong to said they used these pencils pretty much exclusively for their animal portraits. Also, Colin Bradley, a famous pastel pencil artist uses the Pitt pastel pencils almost exlusively so I thought I'd try them. I ordered them from open stock to replace some of the CarbOthello pencils I was getting low on and I must say that the colors are really nice. But, I'm not all that crazy about the way the pencils lay down the color. They aren't as smooth as the CarbOthellos but not as scratchy as the Derwents. I think they'll do fine to fill in for the colors I lack but I don't think I'd invest in a complete set of them.

Right now, I have a complete set of the CarbOthellos, a few Derwents, many of the earth tones of the Pitts and a few of the Conte' pencils. The next time I need to restock, I may buy more of the Conte's if they're still made the way mine are made. I had purchased a few of the Conte's from open stock probably 30 years ago or more but never used them much as they were hard to sharpen. When I started working more in pastel pencils, I dug them out and started using them again.

So, my preference in pastel pencil brands are ranked as follows.

1. CarbOthellos by Stabilo

2. Conte'

3. Pitt by Faber Castell

4. Derwent

I admit that I haven't tried every pencil brand in every color and I know that there's a difference between pencils even within brands so the above ranking is based on the colors used mainly for animal paintings.

I haven't tried any other pastel pencils but I think these are the top-rated for lightfastness and I only want to use lightfast, archival materials anyway so may not experiment any further.

I know that I really, really dislike using paper now that I've worked on sanded supports. I guess my favorite support is Ampersand's PastelBord and Hahnemuhle's Velour Paper is second favorite, with ColourFix by ArtSpectrum being ok to use. I'd like to try the Uart and other sanded papers and will eventually order a sampler from Dakota Pastels or something. I'd also like to try the Clairefontaine Pastelmat but I don't think it's distributed in the US at this time.

I guess I'm an art supply junkie but I'm finding out what I really like to use and what I don't like and won't buy again. That's important to me.

I think the best advice I've ever been given is to use what works for me. Unfortunately, that usually means the most expensive products!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Just Chillin'

Just Chillin"
pastel on black card stock
Jan Gibson

I haven't been doing much in the way of my own art recently but had to paint this little one. I was in the pet store where I buy dog food and a couple came in with two Papillons and this little 10-week old Chihuahua puppy. All of the dogs were soooo cute that I just wanted to eat them up! I got permission to photograph all the dogs and plan to paint each of them eventually.

This puppy really got to me though, and even being busier than a one-armed paper hanger, I did this quick painting. I wish I'd done it on something other than black stock though. I just couldn't cover the black paper well enough to suit me so I may re-paint this at another time.

The puppy's name is Tia and she was dressed in a tiny pink hoodie and held close to her owner for warmth. I had to take some artistic license as a hand covered most of her body in the photo so I wrapped her in a blanket instead of the little shirt she was actually wearing.

Although I really love all kinds of animals, especially dogs, I'm not usually so taken with one. This little girl was certainly the exception! Hope you all enjoy her too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Deer Intimidating Fox

Deer with Fox

I realize the photos above aren't the best but they were taken from quite a ways away. However, I'd promised you that I'd post them so here they are!

I was astounded when this little scene played out. I was in the kitchen which has a window overlooking this back hay field when I saw the two foxes come out of the woods on the right and start their nosing through the grass. The herd of deer was grazing to the left but none of them seemed in the least upset about the foxes.

I'd run for my camera when I first saw the foxes and stepped out onto the back porch to watch what would happen. A couple of the deer broke away from the herd and cautiously approached the foxes. One of the foxes, probably the female (bottom photo, red arrow on the right) moved back into the woods while the other fox nonchalantly worked his way toward the back and left. As the deer got closer, the remaining fox moved into the woods to the rear.

It seemed very odd that the deer were intimidating the foxes! The deer didn't seem to be approaching in a threatening manner but more out of curiosity. I do know that one fox against several deer can't do them much, if any, harm, but you would still think the deer would be the ones to move away.

Anyway, seeing this sort of thing for myself is one of the things I like so much about living in the country.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally Catching Up!

glassless watercolor
Jan Gibson

Whew! It's so good to be back and to see you all again! I'm back with good news too - as you can see, I finally finished the other Jack Russell Terrier commission and both portraits were shipped to their owner today.

Also, my mother in law (who has been in and out of the hospital recently) has finally been released into an assisted living home where she can still have her independence plus there's always someone there to look after her. It has been a trial for my husband with her living so far from us but his sister is doing a wonderful job juggling her own family and work responsibilities and between the two siblings, Mom is doing well and recovering nicely from the broken rib she sustained in a fall out of her bed. We know how she values her independence but I think this fall has convinced her that she needs some kind of round the clock care available if she happens to need it.

I think I promised you some photos of our foxes and I will get those resized and ready for posting, hopefully for tomorrow. We haven't seen the the foxes recently and we were told that this is the mating season for them so they may be busy with their den and preparation for new babies. It would be great to be able to see the little ones but I imagine they'll stay hidden away until they're grown or nearly grown.

I think you're caught up with the most important stuff so I'll see you tomorrow!