Saturday, April 30, 2016

Frick Collection – New York City

Last weekend, I was in New York City with some artist friends and we visited a few art museums.  I was most impressed by the Frick Collection.  It is composed of a memorable collection of European art in a very impressive setting.

The museum is housed in the former luxury residence of Henry Clay Frick.  The art works are displayed in the lavish lifestyle of the Gilded Age while providing a very intimate of settings.  Every detail of the space comes alive - there is a gorgeous fireplace, exquisite furniture, richly-carpeted galleries, wall drapings, etc.  

This museum is a feast for the eyes. Here is a collage of some of the paintings that I saw.
With all of the furnishing, this museum has a different feel compared to your average museum which tend to be bright white lights and lots of empty space. The Frick feels like you are stepping into someone's home which offers a glimpsed of their time. Every room has a different theme with furniture, sculptures, decor, colors, panels, etc. all weaved in with art's theme.  I was equally enthralled with the home itself as I was with the collection of artwork it contained.

There was only one disappointment and that it that photos are only allowed in the garden court.

If ever in New York City, I would definitely recommend the Frick Collection! It's small enough that it's not intimidating and you can easily view everything in couple of hours.

Today's featured artist is Stan Miller. He is on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and has 23 free watercolor lessons at:
Have a great week

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What is the greatest advice ever received?

This weekend I'm having a fabulous time in New York City with some artist friends enjoying the museums and art galleries.  Therefore, I'm posted a collection of advice  for watercolorists that I've seen on the internet. This list is in no particular order.
  • Paint a sky as quickly as possible and leave it alone as a sky is rarely improved by going back on it
  • Your brush is only a vehicle. Let the paint water and paper do the work
  • Don't be afraid of making a mistake.
  • Lay down a big juicy wash of color, and then don't touch it.
  • Accidents" can turn out to be positive things you never would have thought to try, yet love the results of.
  • Less is more.
  • Be patient, don't overwork, let each glaze layer dry...walk away.
  • Often step back and watch my work from different distances.
  • Particularly waterolours are best viewed from a distance
  • Start out with as big a brush as you can
  • Paint lots
  • The point of interest should ...not.... be in the center....
  • It's just a piece of paper...if at first you don't succeed, make it into a box.
  • The bad ones make the good ones all the more better.
  • Paint what you see ..Not what you know. 
  • If the idea is one you love, then it's worth painting five or six times until you're happy".
  • Quit using so many colors
  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Use the "good" paper, and use your "good" brushes. "Paint like you're a millionaire!"
  • Step away from the painting!! Put the brush down!" 
  • Value does the work, color gets the credit.
  • Mix your colors on the paper.
  • Big ideas and big shapes lead to simple and effective paintings.
  • It's only paper.
  • Paint the forest...not the trees.
  • Use the best paint and paper you can afford.
  • Plan your composition. If the composition is wrong the entire painting will be wrong. Do a value study with pencil or gray markers or some paynes gray or burnt umber. Thing big shapes, not little objects and connect them. Remember to save the lights. (see step 1) Be patient. Let layers dry. Use the biggest brush you can handle to get the job done. Work large brush to small. Step away from your work. When you are trying to figure out how to finish and something is wrong, it is rarely a small detail but something that should have been worked out earlier.
  • If you want it perfect then you might as well take a photo instead.
  • Value change is more important than hue. If your painting is all the same value it is a flop no matter how exquisitely it is painted.
  • Take a photo to see if you have enough contrast".
  • Do not have focal point in center of painting, don't have anything interesting going on at the edges of the painting, be careful not to have lines leading you out of the painting, don't make the roads or rivers too straight as it moves the eye too fast ( have speed bumps or curves), if you lead the eye to a point in picture be sure to have something interesting there, at the center of interest have the most contrast and detail. Don't have detail at the periphery of sight because the eye doesn't see detail there when looking at a scene. Show depth by color temperature and making distant things faded out and blurry.
  • The more often you paint the better you become. Paint every day even if it's just 15 minutes.
  • Value does the work, Color gets the glory.
  • Understanding that “less is more”
  • Choose the subject that you love as it will motivate you to practice and this love will soon develop into infatuation thereby, greatly benefiting your work
  • You must believe that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, never worry about criticism
  • You must believe that there is no “best work”; everything changes with time so learn to constantly search.
I hope that you had your favorite in this list. To add to this list, send your comments below.

Today's artist find is Bev Jozwiak.
Bev Jozwiak watercolours
Have a great week,

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Differences in blues

If you're like me, you probably own too many tubes of different blues but use the same ones over and over.

My favourite is ultramarine blue because it is a warm blue with a purple bias rather than a green bias. In addition,  it produces lovely granulating effects.

Lately, I've been using cobalt blue. This one is closest to primary blue since is it neither "greenish" nor "purplish".  I also has the advantage that is lefts well.

In the category of dark blues, Indigo is my go to colour. Unfortunately, I've recently learned that it is not light fast.  I enjoy mixing this one with sap greens to use as background to florals or deep forest.  When mixed with quinacridone gold, it produces lovely earthy greens.

I also enjoy Maimeriblu's Berlin blue which is a rich colour to make gorgeous greens.

I've heard that cerulean varies from brand to brand but generally behaves as a cool blue making bright greens.

Phthalo Blue is a cool and staining blue and is available in Green Shade and Red Shade versions. This blue is transparency, staining or non granulating properties.

I also ave Prussian blue and Indanthrone Blue but have rarely used them.

Manganese Blue is famous for painting snow effects.

This chart shows the warmth and cool tendencies of some of the blues
This link has much technical information about blues:

Today's artist find is Roberto Zangarelli
Have a great week

Saturday, April 09, 2016

10 Things to keep in Mind When Loving a Highly Creative Person

Given my busy schedule this week, I thought I'd share an article I recently found online. I could not find who the author is:

It has been proven that highly creative people’s brains work quite differently than other brains. That special brain wiring that can create such wonderful art, music, and writing can often lead to strain in a relationship, because of those differences. If you’ve ever loved a highly creative person, you know that it can seem like they live in their own little word at times, and that thought isn’t far from the truth. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in love with a highly creative person:

1. Their Minds Don’t Slow Down

The highly creative mind is one that is running at full speed all the time. Although it can be a source of crazy, spontaneous fun – it can also be a burden. Highly creative people rarely keep normal sleep cycles, and are often prone to bouncing from one task to another throughout the day. It can be exhausting to try to keep up.

2. They are Cyclical

The flow of creativity is a cycle, full of highs and lows. Some people may consider this “manic” behavior, but in reality, it is just how the creative process works. Keep this in mind as your partner goes through these natural ebbs and flows. The low periods aren’t permanent.

3. They Need Time Alone
Creative minds need air to breathe. Whether it is their own little work space or an escape to somewhere quiet, they need a time and place to be alone with their thoughts. Some people are inclined to think that if nothing is being said that there is something wrong, but with creative people that is not the case. They are just working within their own head.

4. They are Intensely Focused
When a creative person is on task, they are fiercely intense. The change from being scatter-brained to hyper-focused can be difficult to deal with, so just understand that it is how their brains work. Don’t get frustrated.

5. Emotions Run Deeper

Creative people feel everything on a deeper level. What doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, can be crushing to them. It’s that same passion that goes into whatever they create that drives them to love you, so understand that with the good – comes the bad.

6. They Speak in Stories
Creative people often express themselves in experiences, instead of just saying what they want to say. It is a way of sharing themselves that personifies who they are. At times, it can be difficult to figure out what a creative person is saying, so don’t be afraid to read between the lines.

7. They Battle with Themselves

Being creative can be a serious internal struggle. Motivation, enthusiasm, direction, and drive can all be issues for creative people. Some days it is hard for them just to get out of bed, and other days you can’t get them to slow down. Be patient in the lulls, because there is usually a burst of activity right around the corner.

8. Intuition is Important

Creative people, because of their intense emotional tendencies, tend to rely on intuition over logic. They go with their gut. Some people consider this to be more on the “impulsive” end of the spectrum. The creative mind doesn’t rely on logic to make a decision, it relies on experience and passion.

9. They Struggle with Confidence

When people create, especially for a living, they are always struggling with acceptance. That is art. They have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so they always question whether or not what they are producing is good enough. Being supportive is the key to loving a creative person.

10. Growing Up is Hard to Do
Creative people are almost always children at heart. That care-free nature can seem immature and impetuous – but it is all part of the deal. Understand that the aspects of their creative brains that you love are the same ones that make them somewhat irresponsible when it comes to being an adult.

Today's artist find is Alexis Le Borgne
Have a great week

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Wet in wet and various factors

Wet in wet is likely one of the most well known watercolour techniques and one that provides some beautiful effects.  It's also one of the techniques that produces unpredictable results associated to watercolours. For this technique, the wet paint is applied to wet or damp paper, the colours flow and blend into one another in beautiful, unexpected ways, creating a diffused effects.

A number of factors need to be considered for the use of the wet in wet technique.

Paper weight
  • The use of this technique is known for making 140lbs paper buckled, especially when the entire paper is wet.
  • Even with lots of water, good 300lbs paper will not buckle with this technique.
Proportion of paint to water
  • Very watery (high ratio of water) washes will spread quickly and leave washed out colours and very diffused shapes.
  • Thicker washes,  also called charging, will not spread as much and will produce more intense colours.  The thicker the mix, the easier it will be to create shapes.
Texture of the paper
  • Hot pressed paper doesn't absorb much water or paint and the paint will not stick as easily, if the surface is angled. The paint will flow and will not leave much colour on the paper.
  • Cold press and rough paper will absorb the paint more and produce more vibrant colours.
Angle of paper
  • Gravity can play a significant role.  The greater the angle of the paper, the more the colours will spread. Sometimes that's a desirable attribute, other times you may want the paint to slightly diffuse.
  • In some cases, it might be necessary to tilt the paper in various angles to spread the paint. This is useful if you want to mix the colours on the paper.
  • Applying a wash to paper on which water was just applied, will cause the paint to spread quickly and more uncontrollably. This will produce undefined shapes.  Sometimes this is the intent.
  • Letting the paper dry until the surface is no longer glossy, but still damp and cool to the touch, will allow the shape to be more controlled while creating beautiful soft edges.
When using this technique, you must paint quickly. Alternatively, sometimes you want to keep the paper damp for a longer period of time. You could spray the surface as you work, but you could also put your paper on a damp thin towel to retain moisture.  Another method includes working a non-absorbant surface like glass or plexiglass. This approach also helps keep the paper flatter.
This week's artist find is Michał Jasiewicz:
Michał Jasiewicz watercolour
I had trouble selecting one of his paintings to put in this blog since there are so many that I like.

Have a great week,