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Friday, January 11, 2013

New Discoveries

Wow, that makes things easier!

Every so often I discover a special medium, brush, or particular tool or method that makes painting easier.  When that happens, it's such a nice moment. It's especially rewarding when my discovery allows me to conquer some issue I've been struggling with. I've found several items lately I'd like to share with you.

Here are a few recent discoveries.

Watercolor Pencils for Preliminary Sketch

For the last several months I've been using a watercolor pencil to pencil in my preliminary sketch on the canvas. It's just great to nail the proportions and get a contour drawing in place first, instead of trying to get it with paint and brush. And using a lead pencil brings all sorts of issues.  If I make a mistake using my watercolor pencil, I just wet a brush or  a piece of cloth with water and "erase" it. You need to let the area on the canvas dry again before having another go at it. Also, years ago I invested in an electric pencil sharpener, and I have that handy since I discovered a watercolor pencil needs to be sharpened constantly while drawing on the canvas. There's no need to seal the sketch with fixative which is great as I try to avoid chemical exposure whenever possible.

Painting Medium

Daniel Smith Painting Medium for Oils and Alkyds  Love, love, love. This is just a wonderful medium for glazing, enhancing the colors and speeding the drying time for oils.   

Retouch Varnish

Old Holland Retouch Varnish I can't tell you how I've struggled with retouch and permanent varnish. To me, it is just the devil. I won't trash talk the other brands I've used, I'll just tell you Old Holland's Retouch Varnish is definitely something worth trying. Another tip comes from a class I was recently in. Instead of brushing the length of the canvas, isolate the shapes within the painting and varnish those one at a time. In the past I tried to brush varnish in strokes the length of each canvas (as this is what every website recommended). For me, what resulted was streaks, and goopy areas. Tackling shape by shape in my painting has improved my varnishing results dramatically.

And I Always Love Me Some Really Great Websites.... Painter Mark Carder offers an amazing amount of tips and tutorials, many of which are free and only a click away. I was amazed at the amount of information and instruction he provides.  Carder is a gifted teacher and brilliant painter. I've downloaded his $20 Portrait Lesson and currently studying from it. Classical Realist David Gray maintains an amazing blog on his techniques. He is enormously generous with his knowledge and process. I go to his site so often, I feel like I should pay rent. In fact, it was through his site I learned about the Daniel Smith Medium. I always find it so heartwarming when a truly gifted and successful painter is so down to earth and accessible.