Friday, May 27, 2016

Doing a Demo Now on Facebook Live


I'm about to do an experimental demo on the new platform Facebook Live at 2:55 EST.

It will be a clash of technologies: iPad meets typewriter meets sketchbook. Tell your friends!

Harold Speed Talks Brushes

Welcome to the GJ Book Club. Today we'll cover pages 237-242 of the chapter on "Materials," from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by my comments. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

In this section of the chapter, Speed discusses the brushes for oil painters.

1. You can use cheaper paints when you're a student, but even if you're poor, you shouldn't skimp on brushes.
I totally agree with Speed on this one. He says "A cheap brush is useless from the start and has, luckily, a very short life as they wear very badly. The best brushes last much longer."

2. Cleaning brushes. "Soap and water cleans them most thoroughly and is the best way of cleaning them. But it is a most tedious process after a hard day's work."
Here's a previous post on "How to Clean out a Brush"

3. After washing them out, the brushes "should be lovingly sucked to bring the hairs together." 
Never heard that one before. One would want to make sure to remove all the lead, cobalt, barium, and cadmium first. Or maybe pass on that idea.

4. "When thoroughly dry they have plenty of spring in them, whereas the slightest dampness gives them a flabbiness."
He's talking about bristle brushes here. It's really true. Damp brushes are flabbier.

5. Flats and Rounds: Flats are better for "laying a perfectly even tone, but give a nasty thin sharp edge...For figure work and form expression generally, one wants a brush that will lay the paint in even, flat tones without thin sharp edges." 
He's referring to flat brushes with rounded corners, alternately the modern filbert option, which has a flat cross section but a rounded tip. The image above shows a set of Simmons filberts.

6. Fashion for soft haired brushes used for flowing strokes (in the 1920s).
Speed notes that some of the inspiration came from studying Frans Hals, who apparently used such brushes. Speed generally prefers stiffer hogs' hair bristles.

7. "Always work with the biggest brush that will do what you want."
Then choose the next size bigger. Speed notes that a big flat brush is really several brushes in one, because you can use the corner and the edge for very different strokes.

8. "The brush makers have an absurd habit of making the size of the handle fit the size of the brush, instead of the size of the hand that will have to hold it." 
He continues, "Very small brushes need a very firm grip to control them as they are only used for very delicate work. And yet they are often given a handle no thicker than a match."

I totally agree, and I've always wondered about this, too. Pencils, pens, knives, and golf clubs have constant sized handles. Why don't brushes?

9. Only German brushes have an indented ring round the metal holder (ferrule) to prevent the tip falling off the handle.
Now crimped ferrules are pretty standard even on cheap brushes.

10. Cheap brushes "appear to have been sharpened off to make them a good shape, after being roughly put together; instead of the good shape being the result of a careful placing of the individual hairs."
Here's a video about how they make Escoda brushes


(Link to video)

More on brushes at:
MacPherson Arts / "Brush Basics"

Next week— Painting Grounds
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In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Video Portrait of Hong Kong


(Via BoingBoing) There's some interesting camera work and sound design in this portrait of Hong Kong by filmmaker Brandon Li.
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If you like this, you'll also like his other film "Tokyo Roar," set against the poem by A.D. Hope.

Spanish Edition of I.R. Coming


Here's something in the works for a July release — a Spanish edition of Imaginative Realism.
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Previously: Luz y Color, "Color and Light" in Spanish

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Three Tips for Twilight Painting


Three tips for painting twilight streetscapes in opaques (gouache or casein):
1. Bring a battery-operated LED light so you can see what you're doing.
2. When you start, try to anticipate where the scene will be at peak color, and aim for that in your layin.
3. Paint a big yellow area under windows first and then paint the dark areas over them.
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"Gouache in the Wild" at Gumroad $14.95
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Weed Painting Challenge


“A weed is but an unloved flower.” ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It's time for the next GurneyJourney painting challenge. Let's paint some weeds.

Ivan Shishkin, Aegopodium, Pargolovo (study) 1884, 35x59 cm
Fidelia Bridges, Thistle and Landscape
How does the challenge work?
We've done this before with gas stations, graveyards, and outdoor markets (Links take you to results). 

This time we'll paint some weeds on location. Everyone can upload their examples to this special Facebook event page. I'll choose a Grand Prize winner and five Finalists. Each receive a coveted "Department of Art" embroidered patch, and the Grand Prize winner will also receive a free tutorial download.

I hesitate to call it a "contest" because there's no entry fee and the spirit is more about cooperation, community, and camaraderie than competition. We're all at different levels of skill and experience, but we're all out there braving the elements and trying out new painting ideas.

Ivan Shishkin Grasses
How do you define a weed?
• By "weed" I mean any naturally growing herbaceous plant. For example: wildflowers, cattails, vines, lily pads, grasses, dandelions, ferns, mushrooms—really any natural plants. 

• That excludes anything planted, cultivated, or tended by humans, such as nursery or garden flowers or food crops.

• Nothing too big: no woody plants and no trees. 

Ivan Shishkin A Woman Under an Umbrella
• Must be painted outdoors with the weeds in situThe weeds can't be cut and brought indoors or painted from photos. 

• The scene can include a landscape background, but the emphasis should be on the foreground with the plant carefully observed, with some botanical detail. 

• You can put a piece of white or black board behind a weed if you want to isolate it against a simple flat background. But I'm not looking for botanical studies so much as weeds in natural (or man-made) settings.

• OK to include some trash, insects, signs or other things you find around the weeds.

William Scott The Butterflies' Haunt--
Dandelion Clocks and Thistles
What media are OK?
• All painting media accepted, such as oil, watercolor, acrylic, gouache, acryla-gouache, alkyd, casein, or water-soluble colored pencils. 

• No limits on palette of colors.

Deadline
• You can enter as soon as you finish the piece, but no later than the deadline: Friday, June 24, 2016 at midnight New York time. Winners will be announced on Sunday, June 26.


William Henry Hunt Birds Nest and Primroses
Fidelia Bridges
Thistle in a Field
Submission Guidelines
• Free to enter

• It must be a new painting done for this challenge. In addition to a scan of the final painting, your entry must include a photo (or video) of your painting in progress in front of the motif. 

• Please include somewhere in the title or description the name of the weed, either a common name or Latin name.

• Upload the images to this Facebook Event Page. If you don't have a Facebook account, please ask a friend with an account to help you. Please include in the FB post a mention of what medium you used, and if you want, a word about your inspiration or design strategy, or an anecdote about your painting experience.

• In addition to the Facebook event page, you can use the hashtag #weedpaintingchallenge on Instagram or Twitter to see what other people are doing. 

• If you end up doing more than one entry, please delete your weaker entry so that we end up with just one entry per person.

Aaron Draper Shattuck Leaf Study with Swallowtail
Prizes
I'll pick one Grand Prize and five Finalists. All six entries will be published on GurneyJourney, and all six will receive an exclusive "Department of Art" embroidered patch. In addition, the Grand Prize winner receives a video (DVD or download) of their choice. Everybody who participates will have their work on the Facebook page, too.
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Check out the previous results for gas stationsgraveyards, and outdoor markets.
Own the 72-minute feature "Gouache in the Wild"
• HD MP4 Download at Gumroad $14.95
• or HD MP4 Download at Sellfy (for Paypal customers) $14.95
• DVD at Purchase at Kunaki.com (NTSC video) $24.50
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