Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

What I’m about to get into is going to make me sound really Asian, which I sometimes get in trouble for, because I don’t look the part (I’m hapa — that is, racially, half-Asian).  I have a tendency to feel most at home in A/PI communities, though.  I’m not even sure why — maybe it’s just familiarity?  A feeling of fitting in?  Culturally, I was raised with my Japanese-American side of the family, so…well, it’s comfortable for me.  M has told me that sometimes there aren’t reasons for the things we like (I mentioned this tangent one or two posts ago).

There has been so much happening, recently, that I’m not sure where to start.  The major problem that I’ve been having is…well, 1) stress, and 2) confidentiality.  The first just makes things harder across the board; the second causes me not to express why I’m stressed…adding to the stress.  Not to mention, people around me being stressed, doesn’t help.

As regards art…I pretty much haven’t been doing anything freehand, though I have been doing a lot of observing.  I think it’s OK this way.  I do have photos to work from…though it’s difficult in the respect that I’ve never taken a digital photography class…and so I have only gut instinct and fairly minimal knowledge about composition, to work from (my Art degree is only an AA).

As regards the classwork (for the Master’s program)…I still haven’t gotten around to doing that Discussion Post that I never did.  And right now…well, it’s been a while since I read the sections in question, so the longer I wait, the more work it will be to respond.  The positive point is that I’m all caught up now, except for that.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go back to at this point, however, and I know I don’t want to just repeat what others have said.

Right now I’ve gotten some quiet, which has not been an easy thing to come by recently, and allows me to…well, relax a bit.  Maybe I should read or do some research or something, and see if that helps.

I could do some art, too, but…I haven’t been in that mode, for a while.  I have been thinking of taking either Ceramics or Printmaking over the summer.  Ceramics would probably be easier to access, given that I have a small college not so far from where I live, which teaches it.  The Printmaking class — the one that I know about, anyway — is at least a 45-minute trip, one way.

However, one of my friends from the Art program was in the Printmaking series, last I heard of him; and unless I’m mistaken, he did like it.  For my part, I’m more interested in the old-style manual printmaking than Digital Printmaking…although the latter seems like it’s where we’re headed.  The drawback seems to be that Digital Printmaking may emulate the style of manual printmaking…without the process or limitations of printmaking, within which the style makes sense.

I also did just see an exhibit on woodblock prints…which was inspiring, to say the least.

Ceramics, though:  I went to a tea shop recently and purchased a small porcelain tea cup…which got me thinking about three-dimensional work, again.  Ceramics would enable me to work sculpturally, and also integrate color into my designs.  There is also that element of randomness which causes …well, it helps one let go of control, a bit.  So far as I know, there is no really accurate way to tell what a glaze will look like once it’s out of the kiln; bisque firing (the first firing after the clay is formed, before the glazing) also takes a chance, as pieces can explode if there are any air bubbles within them.  If they do this, you want them to do it at the bisque phase, not the glazing phase — the latter can cause fragments of a work to stick to everything else in the kiln.

At the tea shop…this is a relatively upscale tea shop…I paid either $15 or $25 (I’m no longer sure which) for a beautiful tea cup in a common Chinese style (where it comes to shape) with a modern twist on blue glaze (or is it something else, like paint?) over white clay:  it’s a linear pattern, as versus figurative.  I don’t believe I’ve taken a picture of this, yet, though that would be something to do.

There was also a red-on-white version of the same style, but for some reason, the red stripes were somewhat in relief, as versus the blue ones, which were smooth.  Texturally, the blue-on-white was preferable to me; I just wasn’t sure, either, that the beautiful red was not cinnabar (mercuric sulfide).  The latter has been widely used as a pigment, historically — though I wouldn’t take that as an indication of safety.

What I realized, though, is that as I have gotten further into tea drinking, I have begun to collect teacups (Asian teacups, more precisely) and teapots.  And I realized this is a niche market which I both might enjoy producing for, and participating within.  One of the Japanese gift shops relatively near me has a section just for pottery; it’s also common to find these sections in Asian supermarkets.  As each piece is unique…and one only has to buy one cup for their collection…price, as a barrier, decreases in importance.  The main thing that I’m concerned about there is lead exposure (most stores don’t mark whether pieces have lead in them or not), though I think that as long as the cups or pots are not exposed to acid, it should be OK.

(And I just now have realized that I can take my skill at painting and do so on ceramics!  I don’t know why that never came to me, before!)

I did enjoy Ceramics when I took the classes in high school (I took Ceramics/Mixed Media twice, then); the main issue I had with the class is that I had untreated OCD and would wash my hands until the skin cracked (which was easy, as clay will dry out one’s skin…think of facial masques made of primarily kaolin [a transparent {or translucent?} Chinese clay], and you’ll see what I’m getting at — these masques are primarily used to treat acne and oily skin, so far as I know).

Otherwise…I picked up a book on Shin Hanga, or New Printmaking (although it’s called “New,” the art movement seems to have declined in the mid-20th century — kind of like how Modern Art was followed by Contemporary Art, but the title makes it sound cutting-edge [I suppose it was, then]), at a museum store (same museum that had the woodblock prints); it appears as though it will be very inspirational.  I passed up a book on manga to purchase this one, though.

Although I have plans, at the least, to begin Japanese language review and new practice and language acquisition during the Summer…I still can’t read most untranslated Japanese graphic novels or comics, now.  I’ve just realized that maybe this lack of content delivery may be why I am more drawn to color and Fine Arts — I mostly don’t receive any content that’s written in Japanese language.  Add this to the sparing art which constituted examples in the text I was looking at…and Shin Hanga was more exciting.

There’s also the fact that I knew a good number of the authors and manga series referenced in said book…and I don’t necessarily want to duplicate knowledge I already know.  Plus, even if I do or did want to create a graphic novel as an endpoint (which I am not sure still holds as much weight as I’ve considered it to, in the past; given my reluctance to enter into generating narratives [something I’ve mentioned before, here, I’m fairly sure]), it would be best to study what the people I admired, studied — not to study and emulate their styles.  The latter of which, by the way, seems to be a path particularly looked down upon by Western artists.  Though, I’m fairly certain that competition from Japan in the U.S. comic book industry also has something to do with it, at least when we’re dealing with people from the U.S.

I’m going to try and relax, now.  I haven’t gotten to just chill for a while, and I probably need it…

One other thing:  I have realized very recently that a lot of things considered as “crafts” had useful, utilitarian functions, at some time.  Particularly when it comes to things like basket weaving and cordmaking and papermaking and knotting…at one time, these were very useful crafts.  I did take a look into the Western Art wing of a museum recently, and found a lot of “flat art”…and I’ve been wondering about the legitimacy of the valuation stating that arts (particularly the Fine Arts) are more valuable than crafts.  What I’m beginning to think is that this might be the popular viewpoint in this era, but that is by no means an absolute and accurate reflection of reality (and in fact it may have to do with colonialism…and sexism…)

Well, the reasoning behind the valuation of Fine Art is probably something that most people don’t even consider, either…

Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

More acrylic inks, you say?

There is a lot which has happened between my last post, and now.  Significantly, everything which was not already late was turned in on time.  I got the technical exercises out of the way first (including a botched Cataloging quiz — I’m not sure to what extent I’m concerned about this, anymore), then spent all of Sunday on my Literature Review for Research Methodologies.  The day after was mostly spent asleep (I felt like I earned it), though toward the end (my memory is fuzzy, but I think this is right), I started experimenting with the FW Acrylic Inks, again.  I think that’s what this was:

3247w
From 3-13-2017, lest I forget.

This was just mostly playing around with color.  I meant to post about it yesterday (Monday the 13th, I mean), but I didn’t have the energy.

You can see that I had started to make marks over the top of the acrylic inks with the colored pencils.  Those are my Progresso Woodless colored pencils…where the marks are bold, I was pressing pretty hard.  Anyhow, this was just me messing around with four to five colors.  (Crimson, Purple Lake, whatever they call Phthalo Green [I think it’s “Marine Blue”], Rowney Blue [Phthalo Blue] and a yellow which looks like Hansa Deep…I just checked, it’s called “Brilliant Yellow.”)

Of note, I have seen no evidence of an Ultramarine equivalent in the FW Acrylic ink line (which would make more vibrant violets) — and I just went to the art store, today.  It’s very probable that it isn’t made because they want all the colors to harmonize, and the palette of the FW inks leans toward warm tones.  (It’s really easy to make clashing colors when the original colors are not well-coordinated…)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it causes the color mixing range to be limited.  With Daler-Rowney making so many of these colors, though, I can see where they would like to limit their financial risk in color production.  Especially since it seems like many have trouble mixing colors as it is, without venturing into “mud” territory (I may have said this before, but I think mud — dull color perceived as “lifeless” — can be rescued).  But maybe I’m just spoiled on the good stuff…

I have gotten pretty tired color out of Prangs (note that some people can make gorgeous art with Prangs — and they aren’t really bad for what they are — nontoxic, inexpensive colors that flow well and wet easily and have comparatively good color strength for the price range), but that just caused me to stop using Prangs for colors that Prangs aren’t strong in (for example, cool red).  The problem is that when one starts out with a dull color, it isn’t necessarily going to get stronger with other colors added to it, unless those other colors (or hidden hues in those other colors) dominate the first, or can mute a dominant hue and support a hidden hue.  (I can expect someone to ask me what I mean by this, and the truth is that my left brain [words] doesn’t necessarily know how my right brain [art] does what it does.)

Let me get off of that.  Anyway,  😉  playing around with this stuff caused me to go out to an art supply store and replace my two broken Progresso pencils — which, finally, they had.  $0.74 each.  While I was there (first time to the art store in a couple of months), I picked up some hot-press watercolor paper (I have been after this for ages, but this is the first time I actually bought any:  it requires a special trip, as I haven’t seen Blick to carry many inexpensive [read:  not Arches] hot-press watercolor pads or blocks), and I also picked up a variety of earth-tone FW inks, because I may be using these for cartooning, and in that case, I’ll want consistent color and color that doesn’t move when it’s re-wet.

Neither of these things are going to happen with watercolors, unless I mix large batches of skin tones and let them dry in a palette.  Even then, there is the risk of movement when subsequent layers of color are added, though I’ve heard this can be mitigated with the addition of clear acrylic glazing medium at the time of painting.  (I haven’t tried it, yet — but be aware, addition of acrylic medium will make anything mixed with it not able to be reused, after it has dried.)  The FW inks don’t seem as intense as artist-grade tube watercolors, but they feel more controllable, and more suited to reproduction work.

(I go back and forth as to whether these inks or watercolors are more intense…after some experience, I’ve got to say that it depends on how much you thin them!  When I first used these inks, I was thinning them way out because I didn’t want to waste them.  In short, I was skimping on them [you basically have to lay out all your colors before painting in order to have them quickly available for mixing and altering other colors — and you have to say goodbye to all of what you’ve laid out at the end of a painting session, with acrylics], and it is obvious when I look at my first attempts at using these.)

3258w
On cold-press Canson Montval paper.  Ink is from a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

The above image is something I was messing around with…as I realized at home that two of my colors (Yellow Ochre and Red Earth — neither of which are constituted as one would think they would be) were both rated as opaque.  Obviously, though, this is relative.  For example, with Payne’s Grey (though it may be due to the fact that it is blue-grey), you can’t really tell that it’s overlaying the black, here.  Pure Burnt Umber, as well, goes on and does not mask the underlying black drawing at all — you can see at center right.

However, you can see a tiny bit of overlap in the foreground here with the Red Earth (the only red used here) and Yellow Ochre overflowing their lines in the center swirl.  It also happened in the thing that looks like a tree trunk to the left, which I am fairly sure was a mixture of multiple colors, including red and yellow earth tones.  Possibly also white.  (I’m not sure, but I should add that last bit.  White is obviously not transparent, though be aware that the FW acrylic white, isn’t a dense white.  Daler-Rowney Pro[cess] White, though?  I’m not sure about that — I’ve seen it used as correction fluid and for highlights.  If I ever reach the finishing stages of a piece of art with this stuff and actually use the Pro White, I’ll let you know.)

What this means is that I will have to go back in and touch up areas where I have painted over lines which I need — if I use heavy coats of color.  (The colors being bound by acrylic resin, helps ease my concern of clogging nibs, in this regard.)  Pale washes, on the other hand, don’t really fade the linework noticeably (to me, at least).  One of the things I did realize, though, is that it is WAY easier to work with these super-fast drying acrylic inks on a small scale.  If I had wanted to, I could have avoided overpainting these lines, because my brush was that small and the shape was that small…but this was a test.

I’m not sure if it is the fact that I can see the colors of these inks through the bottles that makes me want to use them, but I’m sure it’s related to that.  I’m thinking of clearing out one or two of my small palettes to use for everyday watercolors (that is, not the specialty ones which I have to think about including, like freakin’ Aureolin).

Freaking Aureolin.

Okay, I’ll stop.

Oh, right.  I also have been trying to work on drawing people again, though they’re imaginary people.  I do have some photos of these, but to be honest, they’re pretty horrible (middle-of-the-night) photos, and I’m not even altogether that proud of the work anymore.  It was fun last night, then I looked at it again today and realized my character had Vegeta proportions, so…

Right.  I think I know what’s wrong, and it should be easily fixed.  It’s what happens when you draw the head before the body.  Still, though:  I would really like to photograph this in daylight, rather than releasing it to the wild and *cough* messing up my *cough* reputation *cough* 😉  Hehe.

We all screw up sometimes, it’s part of being human — and being an artist means you screw up OFTEN and REPEATEDLY until you can learn other ways.  😉  So the best thing to do is be gentle on yourself, and maybe not even call it “screwing up,” but “having a learning experience”.

(When is the Internet ever gentle, though?  SHUT UP ANXIETY BRAIN.)

Okay, I’m being told to get some rest now.  I do have to get up in six hours.  JOY.  JOY OF JOYS.

Eh, at least I should be able to get some (home)work done at lunch…

More acrylic inks, you say?

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

I think I’ve remembered that I’m in grad school, and thus, no one is watching me to make sure I do all my practice exercises.  😛  In any case, I did attend the meeting tonight, and feel relatively much better — especially after having gotten through the chapter on Dewey (except for Dewey Abridged, which I just skipped — as we’re going as specific as possible, and the Dewey Abridged section repeats a lot of material).

I’m getting to the point where I can look at my wrong answers and see where I made a mistake, so this much is good.  (I’m also really glad that I bought this book, because there are highlights all over this chapter, not to mention I’m doing a number on the spine.  The book is about 2″ thick, so…)  The section I read today did clarify a lot that I didn’t know — particularly, through examples.

I’m now on the second half of the lecture that was given about a week and a half ago (I’m still behind), but I don’t have to do any more new textbook reading, for now.  Well, I can; I probably just shouldn’t — I should concentrate on the upcoming graded exercise.  What I did do tonight — other than the meeting — was complete Exercise #4, start in on #5 (there are seven for this unit), go over some mistakes, and start rereading and working through the Week 3 Lecture Notes.

It seems like a lot of getting the answers correct depends on picking the right trail to take through the site, and one doesn’t know the correct trail, necessarily, unless one reads the notes at each juncture.

Right now I can’t bring myself to work further on the (interactive) lecture, largely because of being faced with a textwall where it comes to entering into working on Table 3B.  I guess intimidation isn’t a good excuse, though, because that textwall is still going to be there, tomorrow.

Did I do anything fun today?  Not really — the help session was kind of the high point of it.  I also haven’t exercised in a couple of days, which I’m not really happy about, though I am still losing weight.  Yeah, I guess last night was my fun time.  I did find the photo I was thinking about in my last post, though:

2808w

This is the image which I’ve been scared to start painting, because I know it isn’t going to turn out the way it looks in the photo.  Plus, I love the photo.  I could do a watercolor version of this, but I’d have to use masking fluid for large areas of sunlight, and I’m a bit paranoid about becoming sensitized to latex via fumes or skin contact.  Or maybe I can use tape?  I didn’t think about that until just now…

I can see how I could work into this image with Permanent Rose and Phthalo Green/Viridian Hue (in watercolor), or Quinacridone Magenta and Phthalo Green and Blue (in acrylic) and maybe a warm color like Indian Yellow…then there is the question of the background.  Is it possible to mix a shade akin to Hooker’s Green, without actually using Hooker’s Green?  It’s probably possible…I just have hated Hooker’s Green since I first got exposed to it in colored pencils, but maybe the pencils were just dull.

I suppose, what do I have to lose, right?  Besides time.

I do have a lot of reading coming due for Metadata, but I’d rather miss the 1.5 points for the Discussion Post than the 100 points for the Dewey exercise.

And I still don’t know how to underpaint, though maybe if I made things in Phthalo Blue/Green and white with gesso, it would provide a good foundation for the rest of the project.  One of the big strengths of this image is the limited color palette, though…something I’ve found with botanical images in general.  Plus, the high value contrast between the shadows and highlights.

I guess if I mess up, I just gesso over it…

And no, I’m not sure whether to use a limited palette or the more complex color mixing I’m known for…the latter would likely be easier, so long as I stick with the same palette through the whole thing…(like adding violets and such — things not emphasized in the photo — would be interesting).  My teacher used to tell us “not to become a slave to the photograph” and that only laying out certain colors was like “trying to conduct a symphony with only a few notes”.

Yeah, the worst that can happen is that I just paint over it…as long as I don’t use textural media…

Hey — maybe I can do a small version of it before the 30″x30″?  I have a 12″x12″ board gessoed and ready to go…it’s much less of a loss to lose a square foot of Hardbord!  And I can practice my color combinations on it…and my drawing in charcoal.  And I have another side if I totally mess up.

I made a note to myself last night as regards sharing my images…that there’s no way for me to keep a creative work entirely to myself, unless I don’t make it.  Once it’s shown or heard or read, it can be copied; but the alternative is self-silencing, which seems to defeat the purpose of creativity.  It’s like being a singer who sings beautiful songs, but only when no one else is around to hear.

In that case, does the problem really lie with selfishness, as I’ve assumed, or does it lie in fear of judgment (or even esteem)?  What’s the value of being creative if no one sees what I create?  Of course, I’d still create, because that’s a key part of who I feel myself to be, at this point; but it’s like hoarding…which would seem to be the opposite of what I came into this world to do.  Creativity is for sharing…right?  It can’t do its work if no one knows about it…

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

photo dump…(implicitly spiritual)

Yes, I am perfectly aware that I will likely have to spend all of tomorrow, studying.  Especially as I came home, ate, lay down in bed, and slept until 9 PM — nearly through dinner.

I’m kind of getting a bit tired, though, of not working visually.  With that in mind, I’ve been browsing my image archives and pulling out things that interest me.  It’s after midnight here now, though, meaning I’ve been working at this for about two hours.  And…I’m having a hard time putting things into words.  Sorry about the lack of context, here:

I’m a bit…a tiny bit shaken by the idea that I may be an artist pursuing a path in Library Science because Art doesn’t pay well.  🙂  And it’s hard.  Maybe I should stop saying it isn’t easy, though.  Do you think that if I told myself, “yeah, Art is easy!  Let’s do it,” I would have an easier time at it?

Sounds like that webpage I read sometime last decade where the author was saying that his friend told him (in Japanese) that “Japanese is easy stuff,” and his comment was, “yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my ***.”

Anyhow, I’m making this page in large part to remind myself of what I find interesting, artistically.

I can see a trend with organic forms…and a gradual movement from monochrome to full color.

I also see pretty much nothing here painted in acrylic, which…maybe tells me that I find the medium a bit intimidating, although the intensity of color I get out of acrylic is higher than what I get out of watercolors.  I think the heavy body paint in Liquitex is also stronger in chroma (intensity) than my FW acrylic inks, as well.  Drawback:  I paint with acrylics in a way that others say looks like watercolor…

I could keep going, but I think that’s enough for now.  (Some of these images have been published before on this blog; some have not.  I fully realize that by releasing them to the wild, they may be copied and reused by others.  Can’t help that…)  This is basically a blog entry for me (reminding me of what’s important in life), but I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.

I should also remember that acrylic paint has a shelf life and needs to be used before it cures in the tube, or the tube itself biodegrades…

009w

There’s a photo here that I’m missing, precisely because I want to make a painting out of it.  I can’t find the copy of the image I printed, and it is now 12:40 AM:  a bit early to restart PhotoShopping things again.  I have a copy of the image by me.  Maybe I can find the file after I get my work done.

photo dump…(implicitly spiritual)

Down time

I’m not kidding when I say that this is the first time I’ve been able to get back to the computer for the last 10 hours.  We’ve just had our Valentine’s Day night out…because I have a meeting on Tuesday night.  Why THAT night?  I don’t know.

But it does leave me with a lot of open time to catch up on classwork…though it will be work to get all this done before the 20th.  My classes all turn over on Mondays, now…but! Monday the 20th is the first day I’m going to have off of my job with regard to school.  This means that I have 5 days from morning to night, with nothing better to do than homework.  And exercise.  And hygiene.  And sleep.  And cleaning.

I am fairly certain at this point that I should be able to get through the next week-and-a-half.  There is the question of what kind of grade I’m going to get in Cataloging, especially as I’m behind (though that would, at this point, not be unusual [given that the Prof didn’t assign the right reading]); but I can’t worry about that, now.

As much as I know I need to work on my homework, I also know that I haven’t worked on either art or beading for quite a while.  My free time has largely been taken up with either sleep or exercise, or the increased need for hygiene that exercise entails.  Given, though, that even that could be seen as a necessity…particularly since the only reason for my weight gain has been medication-related and could become dangerous (it doesn’t show any sign of letting up, though I’m certain that part of the recent weight gain has to do with fat being converted to muscle, given that my waist size has gone down and my pants are getting looser)…I should really schedule in some time for breaks.

I do have a few books on painting checked out, right now — I wanted to learn more about underpainting (no one ever taught me this skill) — but I think that working in some way with beads will be a bit easier, at this moment.  After all, I look at my beads, and immediately start thinking of what I could make out of them.  This is not something which comes to me as easily with paints.  (Maybe somewhere in there lies the key as to the difference between design and art?)

As regards painting:  I’m also thinking that maybe I need to go back to drawing and rework my way into painting a bit more organically.  Drawing in monochrome kind of inspires working in color (pastel and/or aquarelles), which inspires working in paint.  Given that my major interest in painting is with colors, color mixing, and color dynamics, though, that leaves a lot undefined…maybe, too much.

Eh, maybe I’ll play around with the acrylic inks.  Just to see what I can get out of them.  Color mixing + Sharpie labeling, I guess.  It would be good to use a unique identifier for each swatch, too — that way, if I start mixing colors with already mixed colors, maybe I could keep them straight.  (Maybe it would be a good idea to work back into gouache, at that.)

It really kind of is annoying, though, that I have to use the disposable palette with the acrylic inks…(the inks will dry flat on a regular palette, and become impossible to remove without scraping the palette surface…obviously not a great idea on a cheap [easily engraved] plastic palette).  My painting teacher discouraged the use of these in my Painting classes, although the alternative was probably clogged drains in the atelier — from students rinsing partially-dried scraps of acrylic resin into the sink and not using a filter over the drain.  (I ended up donating two of these — too late.  Seriously, it would have been nice if someone had cleaned out the paint catcher so the sinks would stop flooding.)

I think I should try and work on my assignments first (after taking care of daily hygiene and possibly exercise) and then work at the arts and crafts after I get so full of reading that my mind is blank.  There is going to be a lot of reading, over the next week.  This isn’t so bad, but I have to prepare for my mind not functioning at its best after having taken in so much.

I have the bracelet project going, which should be fairly easy to get back into, or I could toy around with more micromacrame variants.  I still have that scarab pendant that I want to make into something, but I have very few examples of vitrail (it’s a lead crystal/glass finish) among all the beads I have, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the scarab is finished with.  I’m thinking of something involving multiple Lark’s Head sinnets, interwoven, with beads in between the rows of knotting.  It should look different than the last one I did (which was based on square knots), I think…but I won’t be able to tell for sure, until I attempt it.

Right now…I should be able to put in some time on the exercise bike, but I’m not sure if that will be too stimulating and keep me awake longer than I should be.  The alternative is reading, though.  Or, showering.  Or just going to bed, which I don’t want to do.

Down time

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.

3150-spectrum-l
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:

3150-swatch
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.

3148-color-swatches-l
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.

3152-streaks-l
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!

Acrylics: experimentation 1

Watercolor play…doesn’t look as bad on camera as it did to me last night…amazingly…

Alright, so.  I have been working on playing around in watercolor…though I think the better examples of this happened when I took my time.  The little squares here are underneath my transparency swatches…which are basically just an index of the colors I have.  Really, the biggest pain about any of this is that the earth tones tend not to stick in the lid of my palette and instead separate as little chips that fall when I try and close it… >_<  …right.  Whoever said that design would work, anyway?

Initially, looking at this, I was thinking that, because of what I had been doing with the brush to achieve smoother gradations (pulling each color into the other with small brushstrokes), maybe I should be working in gouache, instead.  However…now that I look at it, I just see someone learning to control their medium at a very early stage.

I have gotten out the gouache:  trust me, I’ve gotten out the gouache.  😉  I haven’t done any comparisons yet between the different effects achievable with each media, though.

3140-cr-levels
Trying to play around with blending wet-into-wet

Sorry about the photo quality…I still haven’t gotten the hang of this, yet.

3141-cr-levels
Dry brush merging into drawing-like marks…?

Although in the past I could say that I really disliked (my own) dry-brush effects, when I look at it here, it actually seems to work.  (Kind of like how I don’t like to use hard charcoal or graphite sticks, but they have their uses?)  I’m pretty sure the upper pink is Permanent Rose; and the one under it is Permanent Magenta (in Winsor & Newton brand), in many other brands known as Quinacridone Violet (though W&N’s “Quinacridone Violet” is a completely different shade, leaning more blue than red).  This is what I mean by irregular labeling of paints.

The grainy green-blue above it is Viridian; actual Viridian, not “Viridian Hue.”  I did try blending this Viridian with Permanent Rose, and now suspect that the beautiful mixed tone I got (mentioned in multiple places, earlier) actually may have been Viridian Hue (W&N Cotman Phthalo Green) with Permanent Rose.  Viridian Hue (Phthalo Green) plus Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) are together in the top central square in the upper first photo of this post.  What can Phthalo Green be used for?  Try!  🙂

One thing I can say is that natural hair in a paintbrush makes a world of difference in that brush’s performance.  I first ran across this in Painting class, when I started using Sumi-e brushes with my watercolors, because they retained water and color better.  This is not a traditional use for them, so far as I can tell — but at least the regular Western transparent watercolors I’ve tried (largely Prangs and W&N colors), don’t seem to harm them.

I have at various times had three different types of Asian calligraphy brushes, though one of them (I think it was a Mao “Little Ying”) eventually died from irregular expansion of the handle.  That is, I think I left it in the water too long, and the bamboo split.  >_<;;  Because of the way it was constructed, about the only thing keeping it together at the end was probably a piece of string, and probably some glue.

The other bamboo-handled brushes I have are all Yasutomo (for some reason, it’s hard to find other brands than this in brick-and-mortar stores:  excepting Asian stationery stores), in a couple of different styles.  I have no idea what the different styles are actually intended to do, but they work for watercolor.  The ones I have all have a core of stiff hair, surrounded by a ring of soft hair.  They don’t keep their point well — you have to shape the tip prior to each stroke — but the touch is much softer and more delicate than with a synthetic.

Most recently, I picked up a little tiny #2 Robert Simmons “Sapphire” flat, which is maybe 1/8″ wide, and it’s so much easier to use than a full-on synthetic with watercolors, that it’s kind of weird.  In tiny sizes like the one I have, they’re actually affordable…

The Sapphires are a blend of red sable and synthetic fiber; but the amount of natural hair in them actually does make them handle differently when it comes to watercolors.  Laydown and color retention is smoother than what I’m used to from my completely-synthetic brushes (most of the rest of them, that is), which I’ve read have a tendency to dump their pigment load all at once.

Now that I look up this company online, I find that they are also the people who make the “Signet” hog-bristle brushes that I like for acrylics!

Hmm.  Wonder about that…

I’m not sure how natural brushes would fare with gouache.  Gouache has a tendency to get heavier, stickier, and stiffer than transparent watercolor.  I’ll give it a try with my synthetic brushes before I attempt anything with the real-hair brushes (the color-load-dropping thing may be a bigger issue with watercolors which are close to the consistency of water), though I’m thinking that maybe my heftier intended-for-acrylic brushes might be better off with those paints…

Watercolor play…doesn’t look as bad on camera as it did to me last night…amazingly…