Alright! The watercolors *are* usable!

There is a difference between using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated (liquid, dye-based) Watercolors and (pigmented) tube watercolors. But the difference largely is in the randomness that comes with the flow, spread, and drying of pigmented watercolors, as versus the smoothness and fineness of gradation that can come with water-soluble transparent dyes.

Drawing from imagination

Today, after about five hours of homework, I let myself do something to relax. I followed what I had been doing with the flowers, and just started drawing what I had in my mind’s eye. I essentially drew what I thought what I wanted to draw looked like, which, of course, isn’t what it actually looks like. But it’s an interesting exercise to undertake which gets me away from attempting to reproduce things photorealistically, and lets me use more imagination in the process.

Because I only have one vial of the Ph. Martin’s Radiant — which I bought…probably back when I was in high school, or around that time — and this in “Calypso Green,” I decided to try drawing something I met up with last time I was in Hawaii. This is a plant colloquially called “Swiss Cheese Plant,” a.k.a. Monstera Deliciosa. The leaves of these plants are commonly used as fabric motifs.

In any case, I was intentionally working without a reference, so I didn’t recall that Monstera leaves are actually greener/less blue than the bluish-green color I had. Luckily, working without a referent, I had little reason to worry myself with this…especially as Hawaiian fabrics which showcase motifs of these leaves, often change the color schema totally away from what’s seen in reality (or at least, what I have seen in reality!).

At this point, I haven’t done scans or photographs, though there is a very visible trend that I can see through the progressive versions (three) which show the development of my thought of how to draw and paint this thing. And, having viewed references tonight, I have an idea of what I got correct (what I took away from my memory of these leaves which was most important) and how to tweak minor things to look more lifelike.

The watercolors are great for fine art; maybe not as suited, to reproduction work.

The clearest takeaway is that I do not have to buy the Ph. Martin’s: I was working, tonight, with five colors, and all of them were pretty much entirely transparent, so far as I could see. Those colors were Winsor [Phthalo] Green (Yellow Shade), Green Gold, Dioxazine Violet, Permanent Rose, and Lamp Black. All of the non-black colors were Winsor & Newton brand, while Lamp Black was Holbein. (I am aware that there are “transparent” watercolors which feature opaque pigments, such as Cadmium Orange; my task will just be to figure out which those are, via research or experience, and avoid them if I want to preserve underlying linework.)

In the test which I made with the Calypso Green, I also mixed in Lamp Black and Dioxazine Violet, from my tubes. I started adding more and more different colors, though, after I saw what I could do when not working monochrome (or duochrome — I don’t think black is technically considered a color, here).

What was surprising, was the intensity of color I was able to get out of my tube watercolors, and that it surpassed what I had done with the liquid watercolor (though I’ll have to do more experiments to see if this is a fluke, or due to my differing approaches in each attempt). As I hinted at earlier, the tube, pigment-based watercolors leave a textured look after drying, which is not as apparent with the liquid, dye-based watercolors.

I am very, very certain now that the dustiness I was getting with my watercolors has to do with the fact that I was trying to use them from a semi-dry state, and not right from the tube. I also very likely was not using enough paint. This is something that my last Watercolor teacher got on me about (…before he messed up my Aureolin pan and left it so brown that I just forgot about ever salvaging it).

Tonight I used the paints straight from the tube, diluted with water, of course, but not washed out with water; at least in the third leaf I painted, which was wholly tube paint. I wish I would have taken my time there, and gone in with 2-3 layers of dark color, as versus having too much paint and water in my brush at the same time and making blotty uncontrolled marks. But maybe that was also me, being used to using natural hair (sumi brushes, tiny hybrid brushes) as versus full synthetic…

I also opted, tonight, to stick with Microns for linework, instead of going in with my Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink — which I know works beautifully, but I doubted my ability to use a steel dip pen at this point in my work, and if so, which nib; and will I have to burn it first and will I have to soak it in ink remover later… My point was to experiment with the Radiant watercolor, not to experiment with everything.

A last note on this before I get into geeking out over paints: the Radiant watercolor from year 199x, which is the only vial of this I’ve ever bought, also smelled of something which I think might have been…ammonia? The only caution I found on a lookup for the new version was to avoid getting it in one’s eyes, so it’s possible that my nose was accurate. But then, I hardly ever smell ammonia, anywhere, to the point that I’m not sure I can recognize it. The smell reminded me of weak vinegar, actually. And considering how old it is…the fact that it’s viable at all is surprising.

I’m not sure if whatever is making this scent, would interact with other paints. In any case, the new versions of this are said to be fairly safe, according to the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets).

Trying Green Gold (PY129)

It was my first time using Green Gold (Pigment Yellow 129, or PY129) in a mix! I got this a long time ago, but had never been able to play with it. I had read over at handprint.com that it is very useful for making greens more yellow-leaning, and…I actually do really love what it did. I just feel hesitant to make greenery too yellow-looking, as it can read as dying vegetation.

As a note, though: Green Gold as a pigment is way more affordable in watercolors than it is in acrylics, probably just because the sheer amount of pigment you get in a tube, is less. I was working with a 5 ml tube of watercolor, instead of a 2 oz. tube of acrylic (as is standard for a tube of Liquitex Heavy Body paint, which is normally what I would use for acrylic painting. It’s good, but not quite on the level of Golden paints).

According to a quick conversion by Google, 5 ml is equal to ~0.17 US fluid ounces…which probably accounts for the difference in price! (I’m sure that the watercolor version is much more concentrated, though.)

In acrylics, I’m pretty sure that I opted to mix the shade instead: the only difference seems to be in price and opacity. A 2 oz. tube of Green Gold in Liquitex is around $19 MSRP (as of this writing). Of course, that price is mitigated with discount art stores. A 5 ml tube of Green Gold in Winsor & Newton tube watercolor is around $11 MSRP (without discounts).

In contrast, a 2 oz. tube of Liquitex Bronze Yellow (a good start to reproduce this color, along with an orange-leaning or earth yellow and a blue I’m uncertain of, right now [it has been a while since I’ve been mixing acrylics]) costs less than half as much, even at full price.

How much canvas or paper each of them will cover, is uncertain to me: some pigments mix more strongly than others, and I haven’t used up a tube of either of these Green Gold paints. I do think that $19 for a tube of paint is kind of a bit much, however; and in some (many?) cases, having to buy paint in 2 oz increments, is too much (especially if you’re like me, and your paints last so long that the tubes biodegrade and force emergency measures to either save or throw out what’s inside).

That is: getting a 1 oz tube of an expensive pigment for half as much (or a little more than half as much, to account for packaging, shipping and distribution costs), is much more reasonable, to me (especially considering that I haven’t used the paint yet, and thus don’t even know what it can do).

Anyway, that was kind of a dead-end tangent (though empty paint tubes are sold for just such emergencies as the neck of a paint tube peeling off), but it was fun to get into, at the time. 🙂

And, I found…

…it’s much nicer to work on large sheets of paper, than it is to work on smaller sheets. I’m not entirely certain why this is, yet, but it does allow “breathing room” for my images, and room for them to grow. Right now I’m using a watercolor notebook…I’m pretty sure it’s Canson Montval watercolor paper.

Tomorrow, I’ll try and take photos and upload some of the work I did tonight, though I know it’s going to be difficult to do without going back in to try and correct things! I suppose I’ll just have to apologize beforehand for not remembering what a Monstera Deliciosa plant looks like… 🙂 …which will be all too obvious to people who actually live with them!

(I’m just trying to use a visual adaptation of a free-writing approach…where [generally speaking] we aren’t always experts on what we’re imagining, but the products of the exercise can seed new work…but to get into explaining that would likely take another post. It’s almost 1 AM my time, as well; I should turn in.)

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Liking the new wire…

This won’t be a long post:  it’s midnight here, and I’ve got an early morning and long day, tomorrow.  What happened is that tonight, I broke into my new red brass wire…and actually used the flat-nose pliers I’ve just purchased.

Oh my gosh, you guys, the wire.

I got 18g dead soft raw red brass wire — not craft wire, but the kind I can torch, pickle, and polish.  (Craft wire, when colored or coated, gives off [relatively highly] toxic fumes when torched, a.k.a. “brazed.”)  “Dead soft” refers to the softness of the metal — it is the softest grade, then come half-hard and full-hard variations.  It’s easy to harden wire (it hardens as it is worked or compressed), but to soften it, it has to be heated.  Heating patinas the metal, which then has to be pickled (treated with chemicals to remove oxidation) and polished to regain a bright finish.

I’m lucky that I did get dead soft wire, because, for one thing, this is 18g — about 1mm wide — and brass is not the easiest metal to bend in the first place:  something I remembered tonight.  (Copper and silver have both seemed softer, to me.)  Something I realized tonight is that flat-nose pliers are good for flattening wirework, but not ideal for making spirals…at least, not these.  The wire crushed and pivoted as I held it, and the brass actually rubbed off onto the steel plier jaws (if I’m remembering correctly, this brass alloy contains a small amount [up to 0.5%] of lead, which may account for its properties).

I’ve not had flat-nose pliers in relation to jeweling for, basically, my life until now; and at this point I’m glad I didn’t spend the extra $10 to get a different pair.  The ones I’ve got are functional, but necessary?  They will be useful where my nylon-jaw pliers would be harmed…otherwise, I have more than one pair of needlenose pliers, which are more accurate, less marring, and with a smaller footprint on the wire.  Mirror-polished flatnose pliers would be a different thing, totally…

Granted, though, I haven’t tried forming the two pendants I have in line, yet, so I don’t know if I can make a cleaner, closer bend with the flatnose pliers than I can with the needlenose (which is the initial reason I got the former).

Right now I’m burning out, so I’ll try and get some sleep; but as a note to myself for tomorrow, I do want to photograph and show what I was working on, tonight…

Acrylics: experimentation 1

I really should have written this post closer to the time in which I was experimenting, but various things (mostly the closing in of the deep night) kept me from doing that, then.  Today — well, today has not been an art day; nor was yesterday.  However, a few days ago I began experiments with my heavy-body acrylic paints, to see what the difference was — directly — between watercolors and acrylics.

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High-key gradations

I’ve just done some Levels adjustments on these photographs.  The lack of good lighting was actually really noticeable on this first photo (it was, as usual, nighttime when I took the shots).

Anyhow, as I had been doing gradations in watercolor, and I knew I had a Zinc White which I had barely tried out, that top strip is Quinacridone Magenta, gradually blended with increasing amounts of Zinc White.  Zinc White (Chinese White) is different from Titanium White in that the latter is much more opaque than the former.  Thus, while both of these whites will fade out colors, the Titanium White will make a more opaque mixture (as you can see in the Payne’s Grey + Titanium White value scale over the black bar at bottom), while Zinc White will make a more transparent mixture.

The colors I used in this experiment were all high-key (bright) colors, things I normally wouldn’t use by themselves, unless I wanted a kind of psychedelic effect.  What I found interesting:  I mixed a violet tone in the upper right of that photo with (I’m thinking, probably) Phthalo Blue:  Green Shade and Quinacridone Magenta.  Above that mixture is a line of straight Dioxazine Violet, though it doesn’t look all that great in this photo (I’d have to tweak the color adjustments more to really get that to come out clearly).  Here, I’ll try:

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Mixed violet vs. pure Dioxazine Violet

What I realized is that though the two methods would each make passable violets, the mixed violet was more complex when observed because of the fact that there were two different light-scattering pigments in there (both the Magenta and the Blue), whereas straight Dioxazine Violet gave a more “flat” violet (though still modulated by paint thickness, which in turn had to do with the amount of water and paint in the brush).

By the way, those little bars at the bottom of this image are Ultramarine Blue (Red Shade) — which is what would have been used to mix an intense violet in my Color class.  Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) is much greener and more vibrant, producing a relatively muted violet tone.

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greens

It is, however, not as green as Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade) or Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), which are at the top left corner of this practice sheet, moving from left to right, respectively.  I had found it difficult to find things to use Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) with, as it’s so vibrant and intense.  On the other hand, I had also not known why it was that my prof had us get Chromium Oxide Green (top center), because it’s such a dull, muted color.

About half of the swatches above are paint straight from the tube, whereas the other half are mixtures made using those paints.  I didn’t really get into good territory, though, until I started mixing with Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue (a bismuth salt which I had been trying to avoid until I realized how efficient it is), Bronze Yellow, and Yellow Oxide (a.k.a. Yellow Ochre), along with Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Chromium Oxide Green, and Emerald Green.  The last is a convenience mixture, located directly below Phthalo Green (Yellow Shade):  that is, farthest to the left, one down.  (Indian Yellow is directly below that.)

You can see how close these two paints are in hue…I have been collecting greens for a while because of really hating that Chrome Oxide Green:  unmixed, it is the hue of a pool table.  However, in Liquitex Heavy Body paints, most of the green colors available are convenience mixtures.

Bronze Yellow (bottom row, second from the left) is also a convenience mixture, but produces more complex tones when mixed.  Like Indian Yellow, it makes warm and muted greens (the swatch in the lower left corner was mixed with Indian Yellow, whereas the swatch at bottom center was mixed with Bronze Yellow).

I am trying to remember exactly how I reached that color second from the right, on the bottom row.  This was my favorite color of the entire mixing session; I know it was Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) with Indian and/or Bronze Yellow, and/or Yellow Oxide.  (By the time I had reached that point, things were getting complicated on my palette.)  I probably should have noted it down while it was still fresh in my memory…though I should be able to mix the modified version again, easily.  As long as I know that it was a muted bright yellow (now that I’m thinking of it, it was probably Indian Yellow) with Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), I’ll probably be all right.

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Streaks

In any case, that color makes up two of the blue-green center streaks in this plaything I made up.  (I was using a hog-bristle “Georgian” flat brush by Daler-Rowney which had already started to wear down from my painting with it on rough surfaces…so I decided to play with it while I could.)

By the way:  these experiments were done on canvas pad sheets.  These are sheets of canvas which are primed on one side and bound into a pad, like papers would be.  I’m not wasting stretched canvas on these experiments, that is.  And actually, the image to the left, here, is something I was messing around with on the back of the first experiment I showed you.  It’s really easy to just gesso this and then wait for it to dry, and then you can paint on the back of the canvas (though it may need weights to keep it from rolling up while it’s drying — I used a couple of tubes of paint).  As for gesso brushes, I was using a Purdy brush, which is available from hardware and home improvement stores.

Anyhow, the greener streak on the far left is mixed like the center blue-green streaks, but also with Emerald Green.  As for those other yellow-green colors, I honestly can’t remember how I got there, anymore; but am guessing it will be relatively easy (for me) to get back.

For some reason, this setup, in which I had gessoed the canvas myself and then waited for it to dry, seemed to accept the paint much more easily (and cleanly) than the part of the canvas which was designed to be used first.  I’m not sure if it has to do with the absorbency of the gesso or the grittiness of the gesso or what (I was using Liquitex Basics gesso, which is relatively rough).  I didn’t try laying down areas of color on this side of the experiment, either, so I don’t know whether my paints would streak with the Liquitex Basics gesso as well as the pre-gessoed front side of the fabric, or whether the streakiness is due to some quality of the pad’s integral gesso formulation (I still haven’t broken into the Fredrix canvas pad).

In any case…I realized at this point in the experiments that I wanted to try pairing muted colors with high-key colors in mixes, because in that way it’s possible to get vibrancy from the high-key color, with temperance from the muted one.  This must be one way to use those psychedelic colors with which I started off this post, without looking entirely artificial.  Without Phthalo Blue’s intensity, that is, I don’t think I would have been able to reach that intense peacock blue hue.  Mixing a muted yellow, I asked myself what would happen if I added a greenish blue:  and I got that beautiful formulation.

I also realized just how close Indian Yellow and Yellow Oxide were, to each other (Yellow Oxide is in the lower right corner)…and have begun to realize that I can weed out some unnecessary colors (which produce repeat hues), once I figure out what I want my palette actually to be.

And, of course, that means:  more experiments!  Hehe.  I have found that I enjoy working with acrylics moreso than with watercolors…the paint is just easier to control, although there is the issue of needing to work on surfaces which aren’t paper…luckily, I have 17 pages of canvas pad sheets left.  🙂  And, if I’m not working on anything serious, I can buy more unstretched canvas (though I’m not sure it will work the same).

As regards that big painting I want to work on, that I’ve talked about before:  I am thinking that I am going to try jumping right to canvas without making a trial drawing of the succulent that I want to paint.  I’ll be using vine charcoal for an underdrawing, so any mistakes should be easy to wipe off with a wet rag.  My problem is that I put obstacles in front of myself to delay the work, and that isn’t good:  and, I mean, as long as I’m not using a textured media like gel media, I will be able to gesso over the whole thing and start again, if I need to.  Putting it off just reinforces the procrastination and fear mechanisms; and I do really want to start on this — before school begins again!

Finally uploading some of…what I do naturally, I guess?

Why…can’t some things be simple…?

In any case, I’ve just spent the last hour or so figuring out how to avoid having a browser program which I dislike, open immediately without my prompting.

On the bright side! — I have for you a page of scribbles.  (Sorry about the lack of focus.  Well, mine; and in the photo, let’s say.)

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Ah, yes. the scribblies.

This is fairly…well, random, but I was trying out inks and brushes, and it came to my mind that this is a fairly good representation of the acrylic inks I was playing with the other night (before I decided that I really should look at my homework pile, again).

Speaking of which, I have less of that (homework) than I thought.  I’m not entirely certain how I convinced myself that I hadn’t actually read what I had read…but right now I’m on the last reading for last week, and it doesn’t promise to be long.  I did, however, have to find a way to lock my screen so that I could read it in landscape format…

Well, anyway.  The black and grey marks on this page are Yasutomo non-toxic liquid Sumi ink.  I guess…maybe it would work alright for comic layouts?  Given, that is, that it shows up clear enough, here.

(I keep having dreams about xeroxing and displaying comic layouts, for some reason…)

The colors are all FW acrylic inks by Daler-Rowney; and I’m certain that light pink tone in there (and some of the violets I mixed with it) has shimmery bits.

I was just trying to see what I could get out of these inks, though it should be noted that I didn’t use a midtone or cool yellow here (as the dropper for my Process Yellow ink was still gunked up).  So everything which is mixed with a yellow is mixed with…I think they call it “Deep Yellow.”  It looks really similar to a yellow I got for watercolor painting — one of the deeper Hansa Yellow variants.  Though…that’s all from memory.  Don’t bet on it being true.  😉  The FW inks do come with pigment codes on the bottles, though; I’m just being lazy.  If anyone wants me to look it up, I can.

There are a number of interesting bits that I can see in the play above…but maybe I’ll get to describing them, another time.  (I’m almost ready to get back to studying.)  The one thing I did want to note, though, is that my use of negative space seems to be improving.  And the black with white showing through, glazed over with color…that’s a really interesting effect.

As regards markmaking, I used a small flat brush, an angled shader, and a small-to-medium-sized filbert (which is the one which made the marks which look rather blunt).

And one other thing to note is that my Sumi ink didn’t move much at all with the quick application of acrylic ink over the top.  I am not sure if I can always expect it to hold up this well, though?  🙂

Thoughts tonight…

Yeah, looking at my Reader…it would appear I’ve reached another one of those times where I have to again search out people doing interesting things I’d like to read about!  Not that the people who are on my Reader are uninteresting; it’s just that there are many fewer than there used to be.

Well, so…today was Thanksgiving, in the U.S.  Traditionally, a feast day.  I did manage to make triple-ginger gingerbread (it has powdered, fresh, and candied ginger), which is…kind of addictive to eat.  🙂  There is also a full cup of butter in the recipe I used, which…well, means I probably shouldn’t eat the whole pan!

Tomorrow is Black Friday — the beginning of the holiday sales season.  I only have two places set to visit, and it’s really up in the air as to whether I’ll go to either of them.  Today was spent with close family — M, D, my godmother (or “auntie”), and my “cousin.” 🙂  There was so much good food, particularly helped along by the fact that my cousin smoked a (delicious) turkey and brought it over as a gift.

I was supposed to go and visit extended family — well, I’m supposed to be there right this moment — but by the time I was finished eating, I kind of didn’t want to.  There are issues with obligation which causes people to do things they really don’t want to do (like cook a turkey, or eat, or invite in people who shouldn’t be tolerated), and right now it’s reached a level which just causes me to avoid the area.

I did,  however, take my little Rattlesnake fetish and feed it for the first time in…I don’t know how long.  By “fetish,” I’m not referring to what you probably think I’m referring to.  Rattlesnake is a Zuñi fetish — a carved bit of stone that…ideally, has been charged and blessed to retain a totem spirit.  The largest characteristic of Rattlesnake that I can remember offhand is one of “transformation,” which I’ve been dealing with, for a while.

I’m fairly certain that Rattlesnake is my totem, about now — it used to be Rabbit, but then it changed.  I have three carvings which I connect with:  one is Rattlesnake, one Rabbit, and one Beaver (the last one I picked because it was so cute).  I tend not to utilize the latter two, so much, but it’s fairly easy to feel Rattlesnake with/in me.  I did, though, realize that this trio (transformation, creation, construction) actually probably meshes with me for a reason.  (I don’t know if it matters that one might eat another in the wild…)

This actually came up because I brought my “treasure box” to show my godmother…I was showing her my newest finds from the stone shop, and offered to show her the others.  She accepted, so I brought them to her — but held on to Rattlesnake’s fetish the whole time in my hand, because I didn’t want Rattlesnake [the spirit] to feel that she was threatened in any way (I don’t think she’s met my godmother, before).

This is particularly so as the “venomous” quality of Rattlesnake, basically her only protection…I’ve felt myself produce before, and don’t want anyone I love to be on the receiving end of it (though it does come in handy when feeling threatened).  Though I realize that rattlesnakes will go without biting unless they have no other choice; they know what their bites do.

I am feeling good about feeding Her — the fetishes take offerings of cornmeal, and since I just finished feasting, and Rattlesnake had to put up with being shown to someone, I thought it was optimal to do so in order to avoid an upset spirit.

And, it’s Thanksgiving.  Seems appropriate to give thanks, yes?  🙂

As for what comes tomorrow:  I know that I need to get to work on all this stuff due within the next 2.5 weeks.  M has said that if I wash my hair, she will braid it…I guess it’s getting that long.  There isn’t much that I would really want, at the moment, that I don’t already have.

I am thinking about a Pentel brush pen (that is:  a brush pen using pigment ink with actual bristles), but in reality, I don’t even know the quality of the ink…and it might be better to go into Japantown to find one of these, than depend on an art supply store.  It will be more expensive, but I’ll have many more options.  The main drawback is that I won’t be able to read the packaging.

Now that I think of that, it is kind of an intriguing possibility…

…but do I want to drive all that way, for a sale which may or may not be happening?

The alternative, obvious enough to me, is to use the Sumi brushes I have along with actual ink…but I can’t remember how waterproof my ink is.  I know it’s tough enough to be permanent on Illustration Board…

Maybe I’ll do that.  I mean, first, I’ll have to see if my liquid Sumi ink is going to be waterproof (if I want to use watercolor on top of it, as versus…*patters*…colored pencils, or something).  I have Sumi brushes, but I doubt they will fare well with waterproof inks, as they’re natural hair and thus will probably be eaten up by any ink remover (should it get to that point)…which in turn is probably a solvent used in the regular inks.  Waterproof liquid Sumi ink — the kind I have, anyway — is pretty toxic.

And, I have no idea where my suzuri (ink grinding stone) is.

I also just realized that I can do this with watercolor paint and watercolor brushes, but it will require working from light to dark.  The bright point is that I can get a super-intense black out of my Primary Black gouache.

Which then calls into attention whether I should even be using ink as a media…gouache is more pliable.

Hmm.  A Pentel brush pen plus…a suzuri and Professional-quality ink stick, or…looking at brushes?!?

Maybe I should seek an answer to the “waterproof?” question before the night is done…

…and take count of what brushes I already have.

I have a vision, now…

I needed to unwind after the homework I’ve been doing today…so, I completed what I will (for now), of my paint spreadsheets!

What I can say is that with all the paint I have, I really should be painting.  Like, actually painting.  And not. worrying about. running out. of. paint.  Jeez.

I think my oldest gouache (which was what I used in Color Dynamics) dates back to around 2007 (I was mistaken with my earlier timeline: 2009 was when I started looking for a job, not when I started taking Art classes).  The newest paints I have, I purchased this year.  But given how much I’ve painted this year (since my Art program ended), it’s really going to be a waste if I don’t use these before the tubes decay.

(If you didn’t see the backpost, I had a number of tubes of acrylic paint from 2015 which I tried to check on, and either the caps broke [i.e. fell apart], or the necks twisted off of the tubes.  I’m thinking UV damage…)

Of course, this can be remedied by buying empty tubes to put my color into when — not if, but when — this happens again.  I just haven’t done it so far, because I really don’t know what I’m doing (it’s a liability when you’re an artist, to avoid doing something because you don’t know what you’re doing)…but if I can save a tube of paint, it should be worth it.  The only thing lost if I screw up is around $1 per tube…but if I’m successful, I might be able to save $8 of paint.  Not its fault it was packed into a biodegradable…

*pssh*, I’m going to stop there.

The plastics are not meant to be kept around a long time.  And they probably still end up killing sea life…

I’ve been having some fun, though, scribbling around on index cards (I had to use them for a school project), and realizing that I really need not to be fighting myself where it comes to my creativity.  I need to be experimenting and messing up and retrying different things.  For example:  really checking those black Uni-Ball Signo gel pens to see if they’re waterproof (I know the white ones, aren’t).  How much effort would that take?  Really?

A major problem is that I seem to have a predetermined idea of what it is for me to make art, and it doesn’t match my actual working process.

I have an example, a bit hindered by a lack of a photograph, but I keep wanting to draw elements circling around a space.  When I don’t know what to draw, I keep coming back to this.  I allowed myself to go on with it for some time on the back of an index card with a ballpoint pen (because who cares if I screw up an index card), and actually …it looked like something, when I was done.  I felt like there needed to be some focal point that the lines were circling around…but what if there isn’t?  What if there’s just a space?  What if there’s LIGHT?

This was pretty exciting, when I got to it, especially considering that the last time I was earnestly working at art, I had gotten into a “water” mode…I can definitely see this piece as an interpretation of looking up at the sun from underwater.

I probably won’t be able to render that in any form of optical perfection, but I can try and represent it as best I can…and maybe I can devote my 30″x30″ canvas to this, so I can really work large (well, for me, large!).  I think the biggest canvas my travel easel can hold is 34″ on the shortest side, but still:  the largest painting I ever had to deal with was 24″x30″, and I had to cart it back and forth to school.  If I get bigger (like bigger than myself, bigger), I will need bigger brushes as well as a bigger easel, so I’m keeping it mid-size, for now.

I’ve also come to the point of realizing that I can’t just make art when I have a good idea as to what to depict.  I can’t go from full stop to masterpiece, and only paint masterpieces.  It doesn’t work that way.  I need to be putting in time and work like I’ve been putting in with my guitar, or with my writing.  Of course, with guitar practice, I get a physical cue when I haven’t played in too long:  my fingertips start to tingle.  With writing, I become restless when I haven’t written anything.  With art, I just become terrified to start again.

But seriously…there really isn’t anyone here to judge me but me and my parents, and my folks will probably laud anything I do draw or paint as better than they could do.  My teacher used to say, “you are your own first and harshest critic,” and I really think it’s true, at least in my case.