Learning Curve

Every blog I’ve read, every video I’ve watched, every tutorial I’ve found, every single one, all of them end up with beautiful, amazing, and inspiring work. This is not that work.

To be fair, these items each were created using left-over paint that I didn’t want to waste. If nothing else, I learned that Phthalo Green Blue is a color best used sparingly. I have also been reminded that I am still learning how the brushes move the paint on the paper which, arguably, is an important thing for a painter to know.

Competence Hierarchy

I have two paintings to share today, which is exciting because they are my first paintings on actual canvas! Up until now I have been using canvas paper, which as best I can tell is a decent low-cost support for beginners. I also learned the term ‘support’, which is a highfalutin way of saying ‘whatever it is you’re painting on’. To be fair, this term is how we painters (see what i did there?) distinguish between what you are painting on (the support) from what you are painting with (the medium). I also learned the term highfalutin, which is your mid 19th century slang term of the day.

“Too often, however, an artist’s impatience, lack of money, and incomplete understanding of the role of a properly prepared painting surface results in a painting that eventually requires major conservation or simply self-destructs.”

Given my impatience, lack of money, and complete ignorance of properly prepared painting surfaces, there is apparently a good deal I’ll need to learn before producing work that won’t fall apart when the storms come. I think this lesson is a good one though, since learning what you don’t know is the first step towards competence. Here is a website I found (quoted above) with a good deal of useful information about materials. This site is actually part of an old textbook written by Steven Saitzyk.

Expanding the tool set

This new hobby of mine has been going on for about a week now, and I have been studying up on the many tutorials, blog posts, and youtube channels that the internet has to offer. I did not document the search as well as I should have, however I will do my best to give credit to the amazing sources that have taught and inspired me over the past week. Thank you for taking the time to create these resources that have helped me learn.

In addition to hitting the 21st century books, I have also picked up a few new pieces of equipment (listed below) that will hopefully enhance my painting experience. Thank you Jerry’s Artarama for giving me a 10% discount and this fancy VIP membership card.

  • Strathmore Acrylic Paper, 246lb, Linen Finish, 9″x12″, 10 sheets. Slightly heavier and slightly more expensive canvas paper then what I bought last time.
  • Creative Inspirations Stretched Canvas Super Value Pack of 5 (one set 5″x7″, and one set 8″x10″). Yes, I’m moving into the world of stretched canvas! Very exciting, slightly intimidating, and not so slightly more expensive than canvas paper.
  • SoHo 8″x12″ True Color Peel Off Butcher Tray Palette. Essentially a plastic tray that is supposed to be easier to clean than the cheap plastic palette I purchased before. Can confirm, dried paint wipes up easily with a paper towel and a bit of pressure.
  • Golden Gesso (aka bright white acrylic primer). I’m starting small with an 8 oz jar, since a gallon is probably more than I want to have in my kitchen at the moment.
  • Masonite 12″x18″ Hardboard Panel, to use as a work surface to protect my desk from the paint splotches I’ve been spilling all over the place.
  • More Brushes!
    • SoHo Urban Artist 008 Fan. I think this brush is intended for oil paints, since the bristles seem to clump up with my water based acrylic paint.
    • SoHo Urban Artist 010 3/4″ Oval Wash. A good complement to the 3/4″ Wash from Princeton Art & Brush.
    • Creative Mark 1″ Primer. Haven’t used it yet, but it was right next to the gesso, so I figured it would be good to have.
  • More Paint!
    • SoHo Urban Artist 75mL acrylic, Cadmium Orange (140), Phthalo Green Blue (470), and Burnt Umber (530).
  • I also stole a coffee mug from the kitchen for a brush holder, and the roll of painters tape from my closet.

I should probably note that I am not affiliated with any of the companies or products I’ve been talking about, and I have spent my own hard earned money on all of it. Three cheers for transparency.

Adventures in Painting (Day 3)

Two times art today. Tried to make a landscape. Didn’t work. What did work was that I figured out how to scan the pictures with my printer (Canon MX920) onto a flash drive and transfer the files onto my computer. These files are rather large, so I also learned how to reduce the file size with GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). This is essentially an open-source and free knock off version of Adobe Photoshop. After installing this program, I was able to reduce the file sizes with the following procedure:

1. Open up the image file in GIMP
2. Select ‘Image>Scale Image’ and change the Width and Height to the desired dimensions. I used 5.333 in x 4.000 in., then click ‘Scale’
3. Select ‘File>Export As’, select the new file name and location, then click ‘Export’.
4. In the next window, set the ‘Quality’ slider between 20-30, then click ‘Export’.

Adventures in Painting (Day 2)

Happy Friday! I was inspired after dinner tonight and was able to art three times! I know everyone is their own worst critic, so I’ll just say the following specimens are of three different levels of quality.

Things I learned from painting today:
1. Adding water to the paint helps out a whole lot. This makes the paint mix easier, and helps the paint spread out on the canvas much, much better.
2. It is possible to paint over mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Failure is in your mind.
3. Disposable paper palettes seem like a much better idea now that I know how annoying it is to clean my little plastic palette. Alternatively, I think a flat palette with no wells or ridges would also be much easier to clean.
4. Disposable shop towels might be a better alternative to the kitchen paper towels. I’ll look in to that sometime.

Show and Tell:

Adventures in painting (Day 1)

I thought I might try some painting. This is a new area for me, as I haven’t attempted any artistic activities since those childhood scribblings from way back when. Won’t you join me while I explore the prevailing wisdom that anyone can be an artist.

Step 1: Assemble Materials (aka can’t paint without paint)
The total cost of my materials came to roughly $65. I’m sure that cheaper supplies exist, but I did not spend too much (any) time shopping around for deals. My beginner kit contains the following:

  • Canvas Paper: Canson Foundation Canva-Paper 136lb, 9″x12″, 10 sheets.
  • Paint: Liquitex acrylic color set containing Red, Yellow, Blue, White, and Black.
  • Brushes: Princeton RealValue Synthetic-Golden Taklon 6 brush set including:
    • 3/4″ Wash
    • 1/2″ Angular Shader
    • Number 12 Round
    • Number 6 Round
    • Number 2 Liner
    • Number 1 Round
  • One cheap plastic palette
  • One cheap plastic palette knife
  • One completely unnecessary storage box (ArtBin 6891AG)
  • Several old yogurt containers from the trash bin
  • Paper towels stolen from the kitchen
  • Dish soap for cleanup, though I suspect that any soap will do.

Step 2: Figure out how to spell Palette
Palate – The top of the inside of your mouth, this term also can refer to the sense of taste.
Pallet – A slab or structure used to carry things.
Palette – A range of colors or surface used to arrange colors.

Step 3: Create Space for Arting
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing from experience that paint does not like to be contained, I took a few minutes to clear up some table space and make sure that any wayward paint would not have access to the carpet, couch, walls, floor, drapes, bookshelves, television, or anywhere else that would get me in trouble.

Step 4: Paint + Paper = Art!
I found these random tips to be useful while sloppily smearing paint about on the paper. Maybe you will find them useful too.
-Don’t eat the paint.
-Keep brushes in cups of water to prevent paint from drying on the brushes.
-Add water to thin out the paint (if you’re into that sort of thing).
-Blot brushes on cloth or paper towels to remove excess water.
-Mixing colors is fun.
-Add paint to the palette in small amounts to prevent it from drying out too fast.

Step 5: Cleanup
Some people say this is the most important step. I agree because I don’t like sleeping on the couch. Pro tips: Do not dump unused paint down the sink. Instead, wipe it up with a paper towel to save your plumbing. Also use soap and warm water to clean the paint out of your brushes. Rinse well and dry before storing.

Step 6: Show and Tell
Here is my very first attempt at pushing paint around on paper. No subject, no plan, no purpose, no regret. I’ll call it ‘premier essai’ (french for ‘first try’).

Useful resources that I found useful:
Frank Clare’s Introduction to Acrylics. Great first look at the process for absolute beginners.

Good step-by-step tutorial for beginners like me.

Color wheels are cool

Support local business! This is where I purchased my materials.