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ellie in charcoal -007

Sleepy Kitty.
Pastel and charcoal on toned tan paper.

Buy it as a print or greeting card.
Buy the original, framed.

Afternoons are the best time to catch her napping. This drawing encountered a little problem. It had a lot of white highlights – until we sprayed it with a matte varnish. For not the first time we noticed that the spray made all the white charcoal seemingly disappear. Why does that happen? After the spray dried, we went over it all again in white, and reworked some of the grey areas too. We had the same problem on our rendering of lightning, which fortunately got scanned before the evil spray varnish un-whited it. We reworked that one today, too. Spraying both pieces a second time now left plenty of white showing through the varnish.

We tried a bunch of new stuff recently, and our mutant brains are still reeling from the impact.

Palette Knives – The plastic ones with level planes and multiple cutting edges turned out to be a LOT of fun. Finally, we can get some of the surface effects we admire in other abstracts. While the plastic ones are fun for experimentation, we can easily imagine buying a few more durable metal versions of our favorite shapes.

Red Gesso – This was fun even if we didnt really use it for its intended purpose each time. Buying more of it depends on the price. If it is cheaper than a comparable color of paint, we would consider buying it.

Clear Tar Gel – We can see how this is used in some modern art, now, for poured effects and so on. But we didnt like working with it. Paint doesnt seem to adhere to it dependably – which is part of the appeal, presumably, if your technique involves removing some paint from an upper layer to reveal the under layers. But we are more concerned with building up textures, which is why we much preferred the next thing:

Texture Paste – Texture paste, fuck yeah! While it doesn’t seem to go very far, this is a perfect substance for getting some really interesting surfaces for color washes and abstracts. We’ve gotten close with other materials but this one just seemed made for the job. We will be working with more of this.

Pumice Gel – We only used it once and we may not be calling it the right thing – but it was fun. What we used seemed about the consistency of texture paste but with grit. Anything that makes surfaces more complex for our abstracts is generally a “yes!” We especially like the way it made washes more texturally dynamic.

Iridescent Medium – Fun stuff. If you mix this with your paint, the dried result takes on the lustre of a pearl. It lives somewhere between ‘metallic’ and ‘glittery.’ We really dig the look, but arent sure what to do with it yet.

Retarder – This additive birthed a revelation: sometimes paint is better when it is retarded. It takes longer to dry and stays supple longer for brushing and washing. The right dose of retarder also gives it a more fluid consistency for smooth, fine brush work. Though we like that acrylics dry fast and you can get right to work on the next layer, sometimes they dry too fast to blend values or create surface effects.

Open Acrylics – Open acrylics take longer to dry, just like retarded ones. But they do it without any additive. Several times their longer open time proved to be just what we needed – for large surfaces and/or blending colors. On the other hand, they can be a drag when you have to wait for what seems like two hours before going back to a canvas with multiple washes. You think it’s safe to spray on some water and get to work – but then your last layer begins to “open” back up and bleed. Oops. Golden’s open acrylics may be some of the best colors we’ve yet seen come out of a paint tube, but sometimes you wish they would just dry. While we are going to work a lot more with these beautiful paints, we suspect the perfect solution would be getting colors of this caliber in a regular form, and adding retarder when we need more open time.