Thursday, April 19, 2018

Knight in armour multi-media and thoughts on toxic pigments

Last Friday, we had our Long Pose which is usually costumed... well-here is costumed and rather unusual. Michael Ward in a suit of armour that adds up to 300 pounds - none of Hollywood lightweight plastic stuff here. As Michael said - you can see why a knight had to be hoisted onto his horse. You can also see why those horses were heavy-weights themselves. I'm still playing around with different approaches to this multi-media method. Drawing with charcoal on watercolour paper, making a wash of acrylic paint, drying that (blowdryer), painting on acrylic gel for pastels, drying again, and then  working with pastels. Some people think that pastels are  simple and easy to work with - but they are the strongest  and purest form of pigment since there is little except pure pigment in a stick. I wear gloves to keep the chalk off my skin. Some pigments are toxic-especially the cadmiums and cobalt. But reasonable caution makes working with them do-able. However, I recently saw of a new fad that somewhat alarms me - in cake decorating, of all things. Cakes are often covered in a smooth fondant and then designs - often florals -are painted on. Apparently, this is now often done in water-colours. It would be one thing to use food-safe colours as used to colour icing... but watercolour? It sounds safe but when you look at artists pigments,  they are all the same base - just mixed with oil for oil paints or gum arabic for water-colours with the same base pigment. So, who is checking on this or is someone painting nice roses using toxic cadmium red? So = watch what  you are eating. But, back to Michael... this was a fun pose to draw ...we will probably get him back for Culture Days (end of September) as we think the public would enjoy seeing this outfit.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Challenges of something different

Most of the artists that I know like to give themselves challenges. I know I certainly do- so here is one of the recent ones. I call it "Through a Glass, Darkly". One day the sun was shining through the front window and through the cabinet that long ago replaced  a wrought iron railing over the stairs. It is glass on both sides and contains mostly glass. Here the light was coming through goblets, a glass bowl and a smoked glass jug. I took a photo as obviously the light would change before I could do a painting. It was fun to do although it took a long time. I did a complete drawing first to get all those curves and spheres correct, then I traced that onto a canvas. The actual painting was another challenge as a lot of it was built up slowly in glazed layers. Nothing was completely straight-forward as you are seeing through glass, through the items in the cabinet and also seeing  reflections, including that from the back of the cabinet. I persisted as I felt there was a bit of a magical quality to it. Eventually, I decided it was finished. I will be showing this at my open studio for DoorsOpen on June 3rd and 4th. I'd love to know what you think of it.