Ask the Experts: Technical Questions Answered for Artistsby Michael Chesley JohnsonWhich French Easel Is Right for You?Q. I’d like to buy a quality French easel at a reasonable price. What features should I consider?Charity Goodwin, Stanberry, MOA. A French easel is a field easel that includes a box for storing supplies and a handle or straps so that you can easily carry the easel when it’s folded.
Category Techniques and Tips
Simultaneous contrast is a term used to describe a visual phenomenon. The mind makes judgments from the information provided by the eyes, so it’s imperative to learn to see with sensitivity.Simply put, simultaneous contrast teaches us that everything is affected by its opposite. I’m fairly tall (6’3”) and in most situations I appear tall, but if I’m on a bus with professional basketball players, I appear short.
View a step-by-step demonstration of the sight-size method discussed in Ryan S. Brown: Training Clarifies the Truth of Ones Perceptions in the winter 2006 issue of Workshop magazine.Step 1 An assortment of drawing supplies, including vine charcoal, sanding board, stumps, kneaded eraser, and white charcoal.
How theatre set design, an eye for detail, and the study of historical traditions and transitions can inform composition in painting and drawing.by Ray RizzoFor his class on the history of costume and decor, New York artist and educator Lowell Detweiler has developed a specific approach to the study of interiors.
By Edith ZimmermanFrom Hart’s Cartooningseries (Watson-Guptill Publications,New York, New York).Anyone interested in the techniques of cartooning has probably heard of Christopher Hart. Earlier in his career, Hart wrote for NBC prime-time television shows, 20th Century Fox, MGM, and Paramount Pictures; and he worked on the staff of the world-famous Blondie comic strip, contributed regularly to MAD magazine, and wrote and illustrated several children’s books.
A glass mosaic mural by Jack Beal was recently mounted on the wall of a New York City subway station across from his related mural that was unveiled just after September 11th. This new image presents an earlier episode in the myth of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.by M. Stephen DohertyWhen Jack Beal was commissioned by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to create a set of murals for the Times Square subway station as part of the Arts for Transit initiative, his plan was to depict a modern interpretation of the Greek myth about Persephone, queen of the underworld.
My palette is like an extension of my arm. Then I organized by value, placing the lightest value at the top of the palette—because light lifts—and the darkest value at the bottom, creating weight. Then, off I went. And paint I did!Over time I evaluated my finished pastel paintings and came to the conclusion that I really like color—a lot!
Q. In 1965, several oil paint technologists warned artists against mixing alizarin crimson with any of the earth colors (the umbers, ochres, siennas and red oxides). They said the iron oxide in these earth pigments would react with and gradually decompose alizarin, and that 20-25 years later the alizarin would be completely black.
Varnish has one basic job: to protect your paintings from taking a beating. And it takes this mission seriously, shielding the surface of a painting from such external dangers as fingerprints, small scrapes and scratches, and hazardous atmospheric conditions including moisture and pollution. Some varnishes are also UV-absorbent, which means they filter out the devastating ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
Q. At an art supply convention a while back, I bought some acrylic interference paint. It seemed so easy to use and the results looked great, but now I realize that I dont know how to use it. Can you help?Juanita KnoxLakewood, CAA. Interference pigments are also sometimes called “pearlescent” or “iridescent” pigments, although since they work by interfering with light waves, thus causing the color, “interference” is the most accurate name.
Every portrait painting is the result of a series of steps. Some artists have fewer steps than others, and most artists are eager to grab their paints and dive right into the color process. But those who simply pose their model and start painting are taking a lot of chances, such as improperly placing the model on the canvas or discovering a more interesting pose once they’ve already begun.
Q. When painting with oils I always seem to get dull areas (flat, rather than somewhat glossy) in the finished work. Why is this happening? Can I fix the problem after the painting’s complete?A. The condition you describe is known as sinking in. One thing that causes it is a too-absorbent ground layer.
As artists we all have a natural rhythm—our own personal cadence of expression. It’s that natural expression that I call “Zen” painting. In Zen Buddhist philosophy you become mindful of each moment. This exercise is designed to make you aware or mindful of each brushstroke you apply. You’ll deliberately put down each brushstroke onto very wet paper.
Q. How do you paint different types of grasses?A. Painting grasses can be mind boggling for a beginner. When you paint your first grass, it’s natural to feel inclined to put in every blade of grass. The result will be a certain stiffness, with each blade the same size, the same color, and the same distance apart.
Perhaps nothing seems more natural than to paint water and water flowers in a water medium, where the paint’s fluidity complements the subject’s aquatic nature. The mingling and blending of wet-into-wet watercolor would fit perfectly in this scenario, but here the medium is dye and the support is silk.
Q. I normally paint on stretched canvas or gesso-primed Masonite panels. I’ve noticed a growing number of artists in my area are gluing canvas to Masonite and I’d like to try this myself. But I’m only familiar with Elmer’s Glue-All or 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive. What type of glue would you recommend for this process?
When one thinks of brushstrokes and their characteristics, it may bring to mind the lyrical strokes of Vincent van Gogh, the staccato style work of Claude Monet, the rich textural work of Nicolai Fechin or even the powerful blocky work of California painter Edgar Payne. The contemporary work of Wayne Thiebaud employed creamy, sensuous strokes in his pies, pastries and ice cream.
Abstract shapes are the large, basic shapes that provide the building blocks for virtually any painting in any style. For example, in Still Life with Three Pears the primary abstract shapes include the basic masses of the pears and the long, thin rectangle that forms the front edge of the table top. In fact, at its essence, composition is simply the art of arranging abstract shapes in a manner thats pleasing to the eye.
Presenting works on paper requires special consideration.by Daniel GrantThe subject of framing works of art—whether or not to frame, what kind of frame, how much to spend, and who pays—occupies a lot of time for art dealers and even more for artists. As a financial fact, frames contribute significantly to an artist’s overhead, yet there is no denying that they serve a variety of purposes: They protect works of art; they distinguish art from everything else around it; and they make the work appear complete and help collectors imagine how it will look in their homes.
Since gouache dries to a matte finish, some painters use the thicker-bodied, opaque gouache to correct mistakes. I use gouache to create effects I couldn’t get any other way. Because the colors have been consistent in all the years I’ve been painting, I prefer Winsor Newton watercolors and gouache.
I have skeletons in my closet. Ever since I saw Jason and his fellow heroes battle an army of skeletons in the movie Jason and the Argonauts, I’ve been fascinated by the human skeleton. And I certainly don’t find them as scary as Halloween movies portray them.After all, we all have a skeleton, and it helps us move gracefully into many different poses and positions.