Tag Archives: painting

guitars 21 and 22

We have some large canvases to do more paintings in our guitar series. But, we also have all these used student-level canvases and almost empty tubes of paint from our other projects. So, let’s see if we can make something pretty for our walls out of them.

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Our art teacher had given us a tube of magenta to try last year, and its become one of our favorite colors to paint with. This was a somewhat sad occasion, as we used up the last little bit of that tube on this canvas. But we like space and cosmic stuff, so we imagined the creative forces: nebula and star formation and supernovae giving birth to the molecules of everything we are. Bob Ross liked to make worlds on his paintings. We like making universes.

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The colors really pop out with a glossy spray-on lacquer finish in outdoor light.

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Starving! Time for a sandwich. Since we are so into pumas, we decided to try eating deer. A nearby store carries frozen ground venison. We have had some wild deer meat in Michigan, courtesy of the deer hunters there, but this stuff must be farm-raised. It’s nearly indistinguishable from beef and makes delicious puma-power sandwiches.

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The next painting used up the last of our art teacher’s yellow tube of Liquitex paint and the rest of a very lovely Van Dyke Brown made by Holbein. Also in the mix: mars yellow (a kind of brownish yellow) and violet.

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Even after a pretty background of copper, black, and van dyke brown, this one said to add more layers. How about a black wash, sprayed with rubbing alcohol several times as it dries, to make hole where the colors underneath show through?

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It looked sort of muddy indoors at this point, so we took it outside. Suddenly all the colors popped out.

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Oh look, some new white gel pens arrived! We have been looking for something to draw in white combined with drawing in black in Sharpie. These came to us recommeded by a sketch artist on Reddit.

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Let’s see if the pens work on a painted canvas.

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The colors dont stand out so brilliantly indoors, but it’s a lot nicer than the old painting on it from a year and a half ago. That’s the great thing about student-level canvases. You can feel free to experiment and explore. And if you hate the results, just paint over it with white and start again!

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some more of them were destroyed

Here are a couple new studies of a Jack Kirby tribute, along with some notes about making them. Enjoy!

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The last year and a half of painting left us with some odds and ends: almost empty tubes of paint, canvases that had a small defect, and paintings that never panned out. So, what if we take all this clutter and try to work out an idea for our next project?

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We got some house paint from the hardware store – interior acrylic, semi-gloss, ultra-white house paint makes awesome primer. Can you get gesso for $30 a gallon? You can at Ace Hardware lol. Anyway, we primed the shit out our gnarly old canvases and got some blank slates for experimenting with.

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Then we were like, let’s just make huge colorful messes and not worry about how they turn out.

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Our art teacher had given us some paints to try last year – like a bold, comic-book style yellow from Liquitex. It looks great in washes so let’s make some.

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Our art teacher also warns us not to fall in love with our colorful backgrounds. But, we always do it anyway. We just hang them on the walls for a few days and enjoy them as purely abstract art.

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Why not try using Sharpie marker to draw the black areas on the canvas? We are working from a marker sketch of an old Jack Kirby comic book page. The working title of the piece we have in mind is a quote from the page: “and one of them was destroyed!” So all we need is black shapes on this canvas, really.

The small one came out okay. Well, we did two small ones, and one was a total disaster. It went back in the primer pile! But the other was pretty close to what we imagined, so let’s tackle a big one.

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These color washes came out especially nice. The yellow is a Liquitex artist paint and the dioxazine purple is Basics from the craft store. They mixed in really interesting ways with the white hardware store paint and splashes of water.

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Oh, look. Mom sent us a little card with a puma drawing on it :) It now has a place of honor among other pumas we love, near the 150-watt Hafler power amplifier that drives our studio monitors.

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Speaking of music, somewhere in the middle of this color explosion we got a request to be a DJ at a kind of internet fundraiser party. There was a 1960s theme, so we made a set list of freakbeat from the UK and some American retro rock. We stopped by Big Lots and picked up inexpensive yet highly psychedelic socks for the occasion.

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It went over well. The attendees from the UK had some touching memories to share about hearing those freakbeat tunes on 45 RPM vinyl as kids. They shared some fun stories with us. In the midst of this cultural exchange, we also managed to raise enough funds to plant seventeen trees in Costa Rica as part of a non-profit reforestation project.

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It was truly far out, man.

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Ok so let’s paint some more! After sketching only the most basic guidelines in pastel on the canvas, we just freehanded the marker.

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It looked cool with the marker but just wasn’t quite there yet. So, we took black arcylic paint and went over almost all of the Sharpie. Then, we added washes of ultramarine blue and violet to the “sky” in the background, and some watered-down white to the clouds to differentiate everything a little better.

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Normally we don’t like buying spray stuff, but we had accidentally come into ownership of some spray-on lacquer finishes. What the heck, let’s spray these suckers and hang them on the wall.

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That leaves us with an unfinished color wash, perhaps for one more comic-book themed study.

art sales today

We sold two paintings today. We had our doubts that anything would ever sell due to a Craigslist ad, but we were happily proven wrong.

Guitar #20: Frozen Coast caught an art lover’s eye on Craigslist. While she was here, she took a liking to Dream Journal #8: Night at the Lake. Good choice! We are very fond of that one, and miss it already.

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You can read more about Guitar #20, or Dream Journal #8, in our archives. Their original posts include detailed close-up photos.

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Celebrating Recent Art Sales

10 guitar 7 detailThe business coach we’ve worked for the past seven years often reminds us to take time to celebrate our successes. This carries a special importance when you work independently. After all, a sole proprietor works without any sort of company hierarchy to hand out employee-of-the-month awards, bonuses, or other forms of recognition. Artists working independently face the same challenge.

Plus, you can easily focus on all the things that haven’t yet worked out the way you hoped. If you try ten different things and one succeeds wildly, you might be too caught up in your nine other failures to really appreciate it. It takes a certain mental fortitude to keep moving forward, and celebrating your successes plays an important role in that.

Last week, we had a wonderful chat with a local business owner referred to us to discuss some potential ways we could work together. We mentioned, somewhat dejectedly, that we had only sold about five pieces of artwork since we began seriously attempting it last fall. She said it was funny we viewed it negatively, since she found that number quite impressive.

That made us pause and remember to celebrate our successes. So, we hope you don’t mind if we take a moment to review what pieces have sold in the last nine months. On a side note, our little poetry book has been selling a couple of copies each month, mostly overseas. Though that isn’t a phenomenal sales figure, it certainly does make us happy that the collection is getting out there.

Let’s have a look at what we’ve sold so far.

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Guitar #1 sold in October 2013 through Etsy to a MWSNM reader in Canada.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

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Guitar #7 sold in November 2013 through Etsy to family in the USA.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

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Guitar #15 sold in November 2013 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

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Behold the Awesomizer sold in February 2014 through eBay to a buyer in the USA.

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Diving Frog sold in June 2014 through eBay to an overseas buyer.
Buy a print or card of this piece.

seahorse dreams in progress

This week we’re taking on a new subject: a seahorse! We really enjoy the 40 x 16 inch canvas dimensions of Sedona Sunset and thought it would be fun to try some similar abstracts that size. But, the new canvas had been languishing since we put down the first layers a few months ago. Then last week, while pondering the canvas, the shape of a seahorse appeared in the color washes.

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It’s worth noting here that the edges of the canvas really are perpendicular, but the camera tends to make them look irregular. Something something focal length – who knows?

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The textures come from mixing acrylic texture paste with semi-gloss white interior house paint and applying it to the canvas with a small paint roller. When that dried, we repeated the process, then painted over that with more white semi-gloss. For the color washes, we used deep permanent green and copper, applying it in a couple different layers, and spraying the wet washes with 90% rubbing alcohol.

You can get bottles of either 70% or 90% rubbing alcohol in the ‘health and beauty’ section of the grocery store. We replaced the bottle cap with a spray nozzle. When you spray it onto wet color washes, the drops of alcohol repel water, creating some really dramatic effects. We made it even more weird by soaking up some of the liquid with bath tissue which, being highly absorbent but soft, makes a handy addition to the arsenal of color wash tools.

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After lightly outlining the basic shape of the seahorse with pastel, which easily washes off later, we filled in the seahorse with two layers of wash. We used deep permanent green and a spot of black for this, mixed liberally with water. You have to be careful with how much water you use: the more water, the less the paint wants to stick. We get around this by gently brushing a layer of gloss varnish once the wash dries. This seals in the paint. Even so, sticking to varnishing one color at a time becomes necessary. The wet varnish tends to pick up a little color, and if you try varnishing the whole canvas at once you can end up smearing color everywhere. You’d probably be better off with some kind of spray product, but we avoid using aerosols in the house.

To give the seahorse skin some more definition, we added a layer of black dots. We did these with a really high-tech tool… an old toothbrush. You get some black paint on the brush, gently smush it into the bristles, then swish it around in water. After letting the excess water run out, hold the toothbrush over the canvas and run your thumb along the bristles. Presto! Black dots splattering everywhere. It isn’t easy to control the splatter, so we keep a wet rag nearby to mop up stray drips and splashes before the paint dries.

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With the basic shape decided and a layer of speckle on it, it’s time to add another visual element to create a little depth. We went with bubbles.

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The blue color – Katsura Blue – is a gift from our wonderful art teacher. We should mention that all of our color wash techniques are a gift from her! It’s like a whole new world of painting opened up when we learned them last year. Katsura Blue is a really vibrant blue formerly made by Holbein. Holbein, for reasons unknown to us, decided recently to discontinue making Katsura Blue. So, if you don’t already have some, you are S.O.L. – sorry. We use our last remaining tube sparingly. We used a minimal amount of this rare color with, again, liberal amounts of water. After a light layer of pure white for the bubbles, we brushed on clean water and then sort of dabbed the wet brush in the blue and then dabbed it onto the watery circles. This created some interesting swirly effects, like tiny atmospheres. Later, we’ll come back and give the bubbles some definition and highlights.

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Seahorse Dreams is far from finished, but we wanted to post a few in-progress photos while waiting for a layer of varnish to dry. Ellie the Studio Cat has some dreams of her own. We often wonder what they are. She seems to have zero interest in keeping a dream journal.

ellie kitty on the couch

Guitar 20: Frozen Coast

Guitar #20: Frozen Coast
Acrylic paint, varnish, and texture media on gallery-wrapped canvas
24 x 30 in. (60.9 x 76.2 cm)
Colors: Prussian blue, anthraquinone blue, deep permanent green, white, black.

This painting is currently for sale on eBay SOLD. (Please see our current art sales on eBay. Thank you.)

At 24×30 inches, Guitar #20 is the same size as Guitar #8. We enjoy working at this size, even though building up the layers of color and texture on something this size takes approximately forever.

Below we have a bunch of close-ups that show just how textured this piece is. The last half-dozen or so pics illustrate its long journey from blank canvas to colorfully tactile art. Enjoy!

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As promised, some “in progress” photos. Yes, we did start off thinking this would be red, but got wonderfully sidetracked by blue instead.

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guitar 20 in progress

cosmic hand

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A John Buscema panel from Thor #200 (Marvel Comics, 1972) inspired this painting. Measuring roughly 2 feet wide by 3 feet high, it comes on unframed canvas. The canvas comes from Fredrix, intended for use as a floor mat. It didn’t make sense to us how a loose piece of canvas on the floor would become a floor mat, so we nailed it to the wall for a couple weeks to paint on it.

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Unlike the small pastel study from last year of this same panel, it wears a metal bracelet, hinting at the eye in a similar tribute to Jack Kirby. The detailed reflection lines on the metal became the focal point of the painting. Frankly, that results in a somewhat unbalanced piece, with the eyes drawn to such a low center point under the mass of the open hand. It may be worth coming back and adding another visual element to balance it out: a ring or rings on the fingers, or something held in the palm. It will decorate the kitchen wall until then!

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