‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ – Winston Churchill
‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ – Winston Churchill
Let’s start this off with a good old “Happy New Years!” 2010 was a huge year for Dave and I: we got married in September; wrote an iPhone app for knitting called “Knit Hat Designer”; and re-opened the RendezVous Art Gallery in October.
Of course, now that we have the gallery, we can focus all of our energy in one place: the brilliant art in the RendezVous Art Gallery. And speaking of brilliant art, we recently added some new works to the gallery.
I am completely in love with these two paintings at the moment. They sit close to my desk so I can dream of the tranquility these pieces portray.
Paul Paquette, “Mystic Shore” 12″x24″ Oil on Canvas
Paul Paquette, “Howe Sound” 12″x24″ Oil on Canvas
And finally, I wanted to suggest that you take a look at a short clip of the opening of the Small Gems Exhibition:
(Video filmed and edited by Colin Steele).
After many months without a post, I can finally find the time to tell you my exciting news. My husband and I have re-opened the RendezVous Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver, BC. Please come by and say take a look around. We’re located at 323 Howe Street (on the corner of Howe and Cordova, just a block away from Waterfront Station).
We’re carrying a line of absolutely brilliant local artists including Min Ma, Paul Paquette, Perry Haddock, Greta Guzek, Roger Luko, Craig Yeats, Amanda Jones… The list goes on. This is stuff you absolutely will want to see. We encourage people to come in just to browse and look around to get familiar with these artists.
Here’s one of my favorites at the gallery at the moment:
Min Ma, Coastlines, 30″ x 36″ Acrylic
I think this piece really shows Min Ma’s extreme sensitivity to subtle colour changes that really evokes a sense of calm and tranquility. His use of opposing brushwork styles in this piece really grabbed my attention. I have a hard time taking my eyes off this piece when it’s on display.
My list of plein air tools:
The best plein air box I’ve found to date at http://www.allaprimapochade.com/ – this guy makes some seriously awesome stuff. I’ve also seen a really great box put out by Open Box M.
Features I look for are: (1) small and light enough to travel with; (2) sturdy so it doesn’t blow over; (3) has a spot to keep wet paint so you don’t have to waste a bunch of paint. I wouldn’t worry about getting an easel that holds large canvases outdoors. Working on large canvases outdoors is frustrating and usually ends in disappointment.
As far as paints are concerned, I try to keep it down to the basics and keep small tubes except for titanium white. Recently I started experimenting with Galkyd Gel by Gamblin. I really like this product. It will reduces drying time, gives the final work a slight glossy finish and extends colour.
I always bring a camera so that when if I choose to do a large canvas at home I can reference a photo. It was recommended to me to paint from my plein air painting and only use my photo as an insurance for double checking my drawing and details. A camera is also useable as a viewfinder to double-check how you want to fit your painting onto the canvas.
Make sure you bring enough solvent, more than one container to pour it into and a funnel. I would recommend Gamsol as it’s odourless (which is good for being in the car) and does not evaporate quickly in hot weather. It is more expensive, but it does last much longer.
Don’t forget paper towels, a rag, a palette knife, brushes,canvases or panels and last, but not least – garbage bags. I go painting with my pops and it’s a running joke as to who will remember the garbage bags.
William Reese is a man who really got art. This man did not make pretty pieces and he did not paint with intent to sell. He made real, solid artwork that speaks volumes, which just happens to sell very well.
I so badly wanted to meet this man. I spent many hours in my head introducing myself to him and saying how much I loved his work. Sadly, the world lost him, before I could even say hi. Still, I feel touched by him when I see his works and will be grateful for this.
I am also able to read his theories in a wonderful book by him called “The Painter’s Process”. He spoke of colour in a way that seemed so “matter of fact” that what he said sticks immediately. This book isn’t composed of just words they expose a solid theory which he put to test in all his works. There is no lying or fudging in his work – he saw, he appreciated, then he painted what he appreciated. Simple, but so difficult.
I wanted to let anyone who would listen, that this is art you have to see. For any artist or art lover, his book is one you “just have to read”. You can see his works at www.williamfreese.com – you can also buy his book there.
From “The Painter’s Process” (Chapter 2, page 27)
“Beware of the taste of the masses, they are for the most part untrained and all fickle. Most of those professing to know what art is have only been interested in art a short time and will be moving o to sail boating or something else shortly. Don’t paint down to their level. Paint over their heads and make them rise to the bait. Only a few will understand but they are who you are painting for. Chain restaurants have aimed their product at the masses and we all know where that has gotten us.” – William Reese
Working in a plein air setting is, without a doubt, the best way to gather information to paint from. There are many problems in working outside, though, so many painters shy away from it. Many try it a few times with dismal results despite being great painters in a studio. It’s such a shame to see people stop after just a few times. Let’s talk about some problems that we come into contact with: changing light, wind, safety, and workspace.
Changing light is probably the most difficult aspect of plein air painting. A painting should be completed within a couple hours as the light changes so drastically after that. This means that we have to get the most information we see in front of us down as fast as we can. So lets get out our big brushes folks to work outside! Brushwork and details are to be saved for the studio. Spend the time to put each colour down correctly the first time and try not to quickly put colour on the canvas just so that you can spend time correcting it later.
Wind and the elements are quite interfering as well. A few years ago I had just finished a painting that I was quite happy with – just in time to have the wind pick up my canvas and land smack down in gravel. Also, rain and snow can feel quite unpleasant. Strong sun can interfere in getting glare on the canvas, as well as just being uncomfortable.
Again, I would remind you to invest in a quality plein air easel which should hold your works strongly in place, without being heavy. Rain and snow haven’t seemed to affect any of my paintings, and if you’re dressed for the weather it shouldn’t be that unpleasant. There are umbrella holders that you can buy to attach to your easel as well. Cold weather and snow shouldn’t deter you either. Dress warmer than you think you need to, though, because you’ll get even colder while standing still. If you need to, wear fleece pants (you can buy them at Mountain Equipment Co-op) and snow pants, as well as a wool sweater and a snow jacket. To top it off I will wear a scarf, doubled up toques and fingerless gloves – oh, and of course, the steaming hot thermos of coffee.
When you’re working in hot, sunny weather it’s just as important to dress for the elements. Again the umbrella holders are great here – they keep the strong light and heat off of you and the canvas. Direct sunlight on the canvas can interfere with how you see the colours on your canvas – it’s recommended to work in the shade. Remember to bring cold water and sunscreen.
Safety can also be an issue. I’ve run into bears, crazy people and being stuck in mud. I would highly recommend working with another painter, or working in a busy public setting. If you can’t do this please bring a cell phone (make sure you get coverage by making a call when you get there), let someone know where you will be and when you’re expecting to be back, carry a bear whistle and can of mace.
And why do we do all of this? For the colours! For the sound of birds and rushing water. For the extreme calmness you’ll gain fromdoing this. After ten paintings you’ll start to see minor improvements. After twenty, you’ll see drastic improvements and you’ll be addicted.
Use the best materials to get the best results. This goes for whatever you’re doing – painting, cooking, knitting, gardening, well, the list goes on and on. I’ll be focusing on oil painting materials here and now.
Paint that won’t stick is the use of a poor binding material. For those beginning in oil painting, slick paints are definitely a hinderance even when you’re using high quality paint, just do to the fact that certain areas of the painting are often overworked in order to get things “just right”. If you’re starting out with a material that is slick right from the beginning, it’ll be hard to work over any colour that is laid down incorrectly at first. Also, texture in the paint is often lost and that is definitely a pity.
Poor pigments and colours that are not saturated enough and poor colourfastness are all very disappointing qualities in paint. Often batches of paint will change from one to the next with poor quality paint. Cracking and a loss of colour can be evident in a fairly short period of time. If you ever intend to sell your paintings you do not want your customer or gallery disappointed by poor materials.
All this being said absolutely brilliant paintings are done with what I would call poor quality paint. Many of the impressionists used (what I would call) poor paint supplies, yet the results are splendid! If you’re going to use inexpensive paints just be aware that there are limitations and there will probably be a few more disappointments along the way than with higher quality of paints.
Expense of materials is also driven by how long your materials will last for. Oil paints will survive for a couple years if they’re kept under the correct conditions (completely sealed and in a cool, but not cold location). As far as making them go the distance – a higher pigmented paint will obviously go farther than one with little pigment.
Some colours are affected more than others by quality – pthalo blue is such a strong colour to begin with that using a cheaper version of this material is better than a cheaper version of any yellow colours. If you’re going to save on paints – don’t do it with yellows, reds or whites.
So, here is my current list of paints I’m using: Gamblin, Utrecht and Windsor & Newton. My array of colours often include: Titanium White, Hansa Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow, Transparent Red Oxide, Napthol Red Light, Quinacridone Rose, Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Olive Green and/or Prussian Green.
By no means should you stick to any list that anyone gives you about art supplies (unless it is specified for a class). Start with products of a known high quality at first, then explore from there.
One of my favorite painters that I know, Bobbie Mac, intermixes high quality paints with inexpensive paints. She does her research so it works out very well for her.