Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chagall Exhibit in Montreal

A week ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Chagall exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  This was a large exhibit that highlighted the importance of music in the artist's work.  There are about 340 works on display, including paintings, sketches, costumes, sculpture, ceramics, lithographs and stained glass. The exhibit is unique as it has on loan works from other museums, private collectors and from the artist's family.

It was fascinating to see the many medias he worked in and how his background influenced his art.  It was not only interesting, but moving to hear his story.

The Jewish artist was born near Vitebsk, in what is now Belarus, in 1887 and lived to almost 100. He made art in a variety of media for eight decades, working around the globe and living in several countries, including France and the United States.  Chagall had a unique style that was influenced by cubism, fauvism and surrealism with Jewish folk art.

The highlight was seeing the 40 costumes he designed for ballet and opera. These were truly inspiring and beautiful.  The stained-glass windows he created for the Metz Cathedral in France were also worth seeing. 

Although I have respect for the art and its unconventional use of luminous colours, most of it was not aligned to my personal taste.  However, the art piece I do like is the painting on the ceiling of the OpĂ©ra de Paris which I have seen a couple of times.
Chagall Mtl exhibit

This week's artist find is Nina Petrovskaya.
Have a great week

Friday, April 28, 2017

Escoda brush losing its point

I'm having challenges with some of my Escoda Reserva sable brushes. For some reason, some of  the brushes don't seem to be able to come back to a sharp point. Is anyone else having the same issues?

There might be a few causes for this:
  • the longest hairs of the tip of the brush may have been broken or split.
  • since I paint mostly on rough paper, it's possible that the hairs are wearing down.
  • dry brushing may also be damaging the brush.
  • could be that I'm too rough on my brushes.
I've had these Escoda brushes for a couple of years. What's a typical lifespan of such a brush?

I love how much water these brushes hold, therefore, I hope that I can continue using them for a while longer. I appreciate any tips you can give me.

A number of people have moved to synthetic brushes because they have gotten so good and are far less expensive and you don't have to worry about treating them gently enough. They also generally stand up very well to rougher painting techniques.

Today's artist find is David Chauvin.  I adore his style.
David Chauvin watercolour

Have a great week,

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Trying out Moulin de Larroque paper

A few weeks ago I was in a different city and found a different brand of paper - Moulin de Larroque.

I purchased one extra large sheet and one regular sized sheet, both of them rough and 200lbs.  The regular sheet was to practice on before I start on the large sheet since I've already had one bad experience with a different brand of paper.

I've been painting on the regular sheet for the past week and here are my observations:
  • The sheets are very very white
  • The texture is uneven and highly irregular (see photo below). As a result,
    • the paint flows in very unpredictable directions and is difficult to control
    • it is not possible to have precise edges
    • it is not possible to draw straight lines
    • blooms would be difficult to create
    • produces different effects.
  • The outside are not parallel and the corners are rounded, hence the paper is not a perfect rectangle
  • The surface has great sizing as the paint does not immediately sink in. This makes it easier to paint wet in wet. To lift paint, it's easiest to wet the paper, and then lift gently with a paper towel
  • The surface is fragile. It does not take well to the scrubbing brush.  The surface is easily damaged. The thin rolls of paper break with little pressure.
  • The paper also does not handle Pebeo or W&N masking fluid. It tears the thin sheets of paper.

This week's artist find is Sandra Busby. She paints gorgeous still life paintings but you'll find some humour in some of her paintings.
Sandra Busby watercolour
Have a great week,

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Painting trees in winter

Painting trees in a winter landscape requires an important amount of observation, as does a number of other subjects.

It's important to notice the different parts of the tree: trunks, limbs, branches and twigs. These follow a certain growth pattern. One example is how the limbs attach to the tree. Branches are heavy and have a base to support them. There are usually a high number of branches and twigs. Also branches always divide in two at the ends.

Look carefully and you will see that the thicker the limbs are the darker they become. Pick a major limb and follow it until its end. See how the value lightens in the same proportion, as it becomes thinner until they practically become invisible by merging with the sky. Obviously it will be too overwhelming to paint every limb and branch that a real trees has. As always artists must simplify.

It's also important to notice that branches never grow straight. They form nice angles that give them their character. Some trees have more gnarled branches than others. 
Another point to consider is the angle of the tree branches as they split form the larger limbs. The lower the branch the more open the angle. As the tree goes higher the angles tend to close.

Consider the following:
  • Make sure both sides of a limb don't run straight and parallel to each other and/or other limbs.
  • Make them look round by lightening the value where the light hits and rendering reflected light.
  • Consider that some branches project outward towards you and farther from you, the latter would lighten in value even if the branches were thick.
  • Limbs will cast shadows onto each other on a sunny day.
  • Add character by putting in cut off limbs, squirrel holes, bark peeling off, leaves that didn't fall, a bird's nest, etc.
  • The shadow side will pick up some reflections from the sky. Add touches of sky color to this area.
  • Variegate the color of bark. Even though in nature their color seems to be a brownish gray add blue combines with siennes, umbers, ochers, reds, even green moss. Mix these colors on the paper instead of the palette.
  • Preferably don't allow your tree to shoot up straight. A leaning tree is more interesting. Make sure it leans into the picture.
  • At the top of the tree there are many little branches, many more than at the bottom.
  • Don't allow the tree shape to fit into any geometrical shape such as ovals, circles, triangles (for pine trees) etc.
  • Don't overdo the amount of branches. Open areas are good for breathing space.
  • Some branches break off during their life span.
  • Snow stuck to branches is a lovely sight.

Today's artist find is Edmond Henry Osthaus.

Edmond Henry Osthaus watercolor
Have a great week,