Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blowing bubbles

I'm behind on my posting as usual...

I've been blowing bubbles with Indian Ink on paper and encaustic:

And this looks like a great giveaway for anyone interested in Encaustic!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Year of the Spark


My 2012-2014 were spent selling, renting and finally buying a house (with a separate studio - yippee!)... during all this upheaval my poor blog lay fallow... now for some art on line again!

2015 is the Year of the Spark - being lead/taught by Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple... just what I need to get me back to posting.The class is very active on FB but I will be posting my longer contributions here...

I took an Art of Silliness class with Carla in 2011 - the only blog post I have to show for that is here.

Carla's first lesson this year should have been easy for someone who'd previously drawn along with her... however for some reason my left hand absolutely insisted on drawing at the same time as my right hand...

I have a big pad that I often sit with on my lap and doodle in when Jim has the TV on... previous pages have been covered quite happily using just my right hand to draw, for instance this was a pre-Christmas page, whilst I was working on our Christmas Card - see my only blog post from last year for the final Christmas Cracker Card.

Christmas Doodles
Pre-Christmas - drawings using right hand

Here are a couple from my big book drawing with both hands - actually the bit that made me laugh most as I did this was attempting to write the date at the top - IT was a bit hit and miss... and yes that's the clue to why I carried on and in fact let both hands draw together for hours on end - it made me laugh!

Animals drawn side-by-side simultaneously with left and right hand  Vases of flowers drawn side-by-side simultaneously with left and right hand

Rock art white on black drawn with left hand whilst drawing... Rock art drawn in black pen on white paper with right hand

Using colour to re-interpret one of the figures drawn previously

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Crackers For Christmas

 One of the things I associate most with Christmas Dinner is the pulling of crackers - after they've been snapped comes the random assignment of funny little gifts - the donning of paper hats that don't quite fit and of course the reading out of bad jokes.

I love the fact that the gifts are random but the quality of the gifts in bought crackers is never very good so if you want to do something about that the best solution is to make your own crackers.

Next stage is to undo them, pop the snap into the cracker along with paper hat (not shown), joke and gift. Reform and tie with ribbons.

I followed the instructions here.

The traditional way to pull the crackers goes like this:
  1. Stand or sit in a circle.Everyone has one cracker.
  2. Hold the cracker in your right hand - you may want to hold onto the snap just to make sure it cracks.
  3. Cross your arms and with your left hand hold on tight to your neighbours cracker.
  4. One, two, three - Crack! Everyone pulls their crackers together.
  5. Anyone left holding more than one body of cracker - maybe still containing bits hands that to someone without one.
  6. Scrabble around on the floor looking for gifts that fell out during the crack.
  7. Put on your paper hat.
  8. Take it in turns to read out the jokes.
  9. Play with the gifts - or wear them - swap them - or carefully hide amongst the paper rubbish...

Update: This was my final version - I used it as a Christmas card that could be made into a cracker:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

R&F Encaustics Arrive!

This morning I saw a bright red van promising "the most fun kids can have" and as I was taking a photo of it I happened to also get a yellow house and a blue car in the picture too... three primaries converging...  it felt like a good start to the day that I was expecting my encaustic paints to arrive!

When I got home a delivery van was just leaving... but that turned out to have been bringing Teasel's next 5 month supply of kibble!

I had to wait a little longer for my parcel....

I'd been taking ages to decide on what to order or indeed whether to order at all... but a few things helped me make up my mind...
  • I discovered that the current prices on the R&F website were, when changed into £s, now much the same as the current prices from Jacksons.... that I would also be likely to be charged  20% Import VAT, plus postage, plus maybe another £10 to the carrier for the pleasure of having them collect customs duty from me!(Thanks Ros for warning me about that £10).
  • From Jacksons Facebook page I knew that their prices were very likely to be going up as soon as their new catalogue comes out soon...
  • And finally in my fantasy ordering at one point I accidentally put in two of one colour and got a message that they didn't have enough in stock to meet the whole order... whereas with just the one it had been okay... when it said "low stock" it really meant it...
I also discovered that when Jacksons show "special offers just for you" under the shopping basket they can indeed be bargains... the only one that interested me was for some angled Hakes... I got three for the price I've paid before for one!

I also ordered a couple of R&F pigment sticks to see what they are like - here are the Hakes and few of my new goodies:

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Avoid Alizarin Crimson!

Over time we expect a rose to fade... we do not expect the same from our paintings!

In my previous post I gave two examples of colour palettes: one from Arthur Stern (for oil paints) and the other from Michael Wilcox (for watercolours)... both were focussed on choosing paints that will mix well... both palettes included Alizarin Crimson.... however, on a little further investigation, it turns out that this is really a pigment to avoid, especially in colour mixes!

I was looking at the R&F encaustics information about individual colours and here is what it says about Alizarin Crimson: "Not sufficiently light-fast in tints."

This rang an overdue alarm bell for me!

I looked at Winsor &Newton's information about their Artist's Quality oil colours and found this:
Of the 120 colours in the range, 119 are now classed as 'permanent for artists' use' [AA or A ratings from Winsor & Newton] which aids in the longevity of paintings. Although Alizarin Crimson is only given a "B" rating ( moderately durable), it has been part of Artists' Oil Colour for over 130 years and is still considered a key colour by many contemporary artists.  
But knowing myself and how long its taken me to get around to reading the boring stuff about permanence etc I don't think that artists are expecting any "Artists' Oil Colour" to fade... so the fact that so many consider it a key colour is only through ignorance of its properties....

Before Christmas I bought several Artist's Quality oil colours from several different manufacturers to make homemade encaustic paints... I was looking at the data sheets to check on opacity and translucency which is something I think matters a lot in encaustics. Somehow one of the paints I bought, Carmine Deep (an expensive one too!) has turned out to be non-permanent... my excuse is that as it was from Sennelier the data sheet was in French... but the real reason was that I did not expect a series 3 oil paint from a reputable paint manufacturer to be unsuitable for use in art!

I'm even more shocked that Micahel Wilcox recommended Alizarin Crimson in Blue and Yellow Don't make Green (1989 edition)... though it looks as though more recent editions avoid it... I now have his later book "The Artist's Guide to Selecting Colours" (1997) bought direct from his website - The School of Colour - (thanks to Sue for telling me about this website). In this book he has clearly done his research on permanence and not just mixing.... he says Alizarin Crimson PR 83:1  "has failed all lightfast testing in all media"... in particular it fades when used thinly or when mixed with white....

Okay so R&F alerted me to this, what do the other encaustic paint manufacturers say?

Enkaustikos do not give a plain English warning... to find out the truth you need to look at their codes: "Alizarin Crimson Pigment Color Index name  PR83 - III"

So that III is the clue... I = Excellent lightfastedness, II = Good and III = Poor.... who really wants to buy a colour, no matter how beautiful if in a few years time its going to fade? Especially if it is beautiful!

And its the only paint they have marked as being a III....

The major UK encaustic paint maker does not give the pigment numbers though there are pigment names... They use a different scale of lightfastness... and I'm pleased to say they are not offering anything called Alizarin Crimson at all.

 The lightfastness scale they use has 5 = excellent, 4 = very good, 3 = good and they say they do not offer anything with a worse lightfastness than 3... also after a quick look the ones only rated 3 are neons + pastel cream... 

But there is a general warning that adding whites to colours may make them prone to fading... which, as it is given as a general warning, apparently applies to all their colours... and therefore makes them all useless to me.

Sigh... I'd love to be able to buy the local colours... but I don't want to spend money on any paints to which I cannot add white... I may not want to add it all the time but sometimes I do!

And what about making my own encaustic paint directly with pigments?

I now understand a tiny bit more about paint making... enough to know that paint makers do rather more than just throw in some pigment and stir it around a bit... which is all I'd be able to do.... whether that matters when the medium is encaustic I don't know...