Varnishing

Hello everybody, I hope you had a great weekend. It’s been unusually snowy in my neck of the woods, so I stayed in mostly. I decided it was time to do some varnishing of my previous paintings.

I’m sure there are varying opinions when it comes to vanishing paintings. Some say that you don’t need to and some swear by it. In my work, I noticed some paintings need it more than others. But, I am all for maximum protection when it comes to paintings and any other works of art. In addition to the protection that varnish provides, is its ability to re-saturate the colours, even out the painting and provide a way remove it for cleaning in the future. The varnish is removable with odorless mineral spirits.

I have varnished acrylic works before but never oils. So I was apprehensive when it came to varnishing oils, just because my lack of experience. After much research online, I decided to try it out. Traditional oil varnishes, (usually Damar) should be put on after the painting has been oxidizing of 6-12 months or more. So we are lucky that we have picture varnishes such as Gamblin’s Gamvar that you can varnish after the painting is touch dry. I decided to wait over a month anyway to make sure.

Below is one of my paintings before and after the varnish. On the left, you can clearly see the difference after the painting has “dried” some parts have sunken in and uneven levels of haze and gloss. On the right, after the painting has been varnished, the colours are resaturated, painting is more uniform and overall clarity is restored.
IMG_4595I used the gloss version of the varnish but there are different finishes as matte and satin as well. The varnish is touch dry in a couple of hours but totally tack-free in 24 hours. I think the trick is to get it on as thinly as possible. After doing a few, I think I’m getting the hang of it.  The worst thing about the whole procedure is avoiding dust and loose brush hairs.

I hope this has been informative to those who are interested.

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by,

Jeannette

 

 

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Studies after Artists

Hello everyone, YAY it’s Friday! I hope your week went relatively well and you are looking forward to some rest and relaxation on the weekend.

I’ve come to realize that there are so many contemporary artists that I admire and most of them are still alive! This is a revelation for me, coming from an Art History background. Most of my studying in the past have been master artists throughout history, that have long been deceased. I must admit I have had the attitude of “everything has been done already” so why bother. Yes, many things have been done and greatness achieved, but there is more.

One of the reasons that there is more is because of the changes in the viewer. Our tastes change over the years. But it’s also worth pointing out that sometimes, our level of perception changes. This has been the case with myself and Still Life painting.

In the past, the Still Life genre for me was the typical Old Master style, you know the ones, dark background, glowing light, realistically rendered with so many objects in an ensemble (which I call, “the kitchen sink”). Although they were and are masterworks of excellent technique, composition etc.., I personally did not like this style.

Now, I have seen many Still Lifes done by contemporary painters that focus on a single or small group of subject matter. These paintings resonate with me so much for these seasons:

-they do not focus on artist’s agenda (political world views etc..)
-they are simple
-emphasis on quality of light
-the beauty and importance of mundane objects, nature
-able to convey mood without a figure
-silent quality that encourages quiet contemplation

Some of the artists that convey the qualities mentioned above in still lifes are Abby Ryan, Douane Keiser, Neil Nelson, Stanley Bielen and Diarmuid Kelley. Diarmuid Kelley also paints incredible figurative works. In my attempt to celebrate these artists as well as learn from them, I decided to do some studies after them.

Here is a Study after Stanley Bielen:

IMG_4588
Oil on Baltic Birch Panel, 8″x10″

I chose to do this study because I don’t normally paint flowers. This piece is also mostly done with a palette knife, which I don’t normally use either. I guess I’m trying to expand my comfort zone and try new things.

I will probably do more studies after these and other artists and I wanted to let you know what my motivations were behind them.

Thanks for visiting, have a great weekend.

Jeannette

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Snob Paints (Williamsburg pt.2)

Hello everybody, I hope your week is going well. I wanted to finish up my swatch-fest for now with the rest of Williamsburg paints. I have a few more brands but maybe I’ll save them for later. I can’t assume everyone is an art materials geek like me πŸ™ƒ. Below are the swatches:

Format:
The left column shows the paint as they were squeezed from the tube labeled with the paint colour.

The right part of the picture is the paint tinted to increasing degrees with M. Graham’s Titanium White Alkyd paint. Please note that Titanium White does skew the colours a little cooler (Again, sorry about the quality of pictures).

IMG_4545

Cadmium Red Light (fine)
This beautiful opaque red leans orange and can be tinted to an orange without the addition of yellow if you are in a pinch.

Cadmium Red Medium (fine)
A true medium red without being too orange or blue. A little oilier than cadmium red light or deep.

Cadmium Red Deep (fine)
This is the first Williamsburg colour I fell for. An intense deep, opaque bluish-red. I found the texture really unique: kind of mousse-like, not oily or runny but not pasty either. Really nice to work with.

Italian Pompeii Red (medium)
A natural earth colour with noticeable texture. It is semi-opaque but it can be painted almost transparently with some skill.

Permanent Crimson (very fine)
I got this colour to replace true Alizarin Crimson because of its lightfastness issues. You can see that it’s luscious and gorgeous, look at the pinks you can get! I’ll have to see if it really replaces true Alizarin but so far, it looks good.

 

IMG_4551

Cinnabar Green Light (very fine)
This is a convenience colour with a Good lightfastness rating. I can see its use in a modern palette but I will pass on any convenience colour without Excellent lightfastness unless I’m nuts about the colour. In this case, I am not.

Viridian (fine)
I never used an oil-based Viridian before. This is a beautiful transparent deep green with many nuances.

Green Gold (very fine)
Gorgeous translucent olive-green with Excellent lightfastness.

Courbet Green (very fine)
This is a convenience mixture with Excellent lightfastness and very handy for using in foliage, forest, shadows and useful for mixing.

My general impression of Williamsburg is very good so far. Their Cadmium Reds are outstanding and there are some colours like Prussian Blue (not on the swatch chart) that is really unique. But I think like any good brand, you tend to have favorite colours. The individual characteristics of the paint colours is what will keep you. For me the difference in texture of these paints is really noticeable when dealing with pigments that are milled to medium consistency and larger. The artistry of the manufacturer is in bringing these characteristics to light by their skill in combining pigment, binder and milling for the artist to appreciate.

One great thing about Williamsburg is that it is owned by Golden, so support and communication from the company is upfront and open. Even before I started using Williamsburg, I always had good communication with Golden and now it’s the same for Williamsburg. They are always willing to answer any question and are helpful. Having said all this about Williamsburg, the paints themselves are not cheap. It is up to the individual to decide if it’s worth it or not. I personally, have always found better materials always to be worth it.

Thanks for visiting my blog,

Jeannette

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Snob Paints (Williamsburg pt.1)

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a good start to your week. I have been sick with a cold that did a number on my sinuses. Thankfully, I’m getting better.

Continuing on with paint swatches, I am showing Williamsburg paints. Williamsburg is a company based in the U.S that has been bought by Golden paints. Golden is a very reputable company known for their acrylic paints.

I had a few of their paints already and really liked them. I was interested in more of their paints but after some research in art forums, I found that there was talk about the consistency in the paint “grind” (for the lack of a better word ). So I contacted Williamsburg and corresponded with Sarah Sands, who is the Senior Technical Specialist for Golden Paints. I found her to be very informative and gracious to deal with. Sarah Sands is also a major contributing writer for JustPaint (blog/newsletter for Golden Paints), which contains very useful technical information about art materials and best practices.

After my correspondence with Williamsburg/Golden, I learned that their paints are offered in four different “grinds”. The grind or milling of the pigment in the binder produces different effects in the final paint product. These effects may be in the form of texture, transparency, colour and general feel of the paint. Williamsburg strives to offer the different characteristics of these paints to the artist. In order to exemplify the diversity in the milling, I was sent samples of their paint. I will break up the paint swatches into 2 posts.

Format:
The left column shows the paint as they were squeezed from the tube labeled with the paint colour.

The right part of the picture is the paint tinted to increasing degrees with M. Graham’s Titanium White Alkyd paint. Please note that Titanium White does skew the colours a little cooler (Again, sorry about the quality of pictures).

Williamsburg

IMG_4543

Zinc Buff (very fine)
This is a gorgeous light colour with excellent lightfastness. Especially good for skin tones and any subtle light passage. The only concern with this colour for me is the Zinc content. I am trying to stay away from zinc for the brittleness that can cause cracking and adhesion problems. I have not found out yet whether zinc under certain percentages are safe or not.

Brilliant Yellow Pale (very fine)
Is a beautiful pale yellow that is a mixture of pigments so it results in a convenience colour. The lightfastness rating is Good but not Excellent.

Cadmium Yellow Medium (fine)
This is a good warm medium yellow with the opacity you’ve come to expect from a cadmium.

Italian Lemon Ochre (medium)
I love this colour. It’s an Italian earth colour with noticeable “grit” or texture. You can get some beautiful clean, subtle and nuanced light ochres with this.

Yellow Ochre Domestic (fine)
This is a good example of a solid yellow ochre, stronger than the Italian Lemon.

IMG_4544

Stil de Grain (coarse)
This is a lovely synthetic earth colour with a surprising coarse texture.

Cobalt Violet Light (very fine)
This is a beautiful transparent violet that is not a strong tinter. I don’t really like super loud violets but this one even in masstone is gorgeous.

Cerulean Genuine (fine)
This is a good cerulean blue as you would expect cerulean (an opaque greenish/grayish blue) to be.

Persian Rose (very fine)
This is a nice enough opaque convenience colour with Good lightfastness rating but I personally am not a fan of it.

Sevres Blue (very fine)
Another convenience colour that is brighter than Cerulean blue and has Excellent lightfastness rating but I’m not crazy about it.

These are my first impressions of these paints and my opinions might change with use. I will post the next batch of Williamsburg paints in my post to follow. I hope these swatches are helpful to you. If you are interested in more information about the individual paints like pigment information, drying time and texture of the paints, Williamsburg lists this information on their website.

Thanks for visiting,

Jeannette

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Snob Paints (Michael Harding)

Hello everyone, yes it’s Friday! I hope your week has been good. As always, I’m looking forward to the weekend. As promised, here are swatches and first impressions of Michael Harding paints:

Format:
The left column shows the paint as they were squeezed from the tube labeled with the paint colour.

The right part of the picture is the paint tinted to increasing degrees with M. Graham’s Titanium White Alkyd paint. Please note that Titanium White does skew the colours a little cooler (Again, sorry about the quality of pictures).

Michael Harding
IMG_4548

Phthalocyanine Blue Lake:
This colour was one of the most pleasant surprises. Phthalo blue is one of the most strongest tinters but this one was quite easy to tame. It is very clean and you can get really lovely soft greenish blues.

Ultramarine Blue:
Very nice clean blue that leans red, a basic staple colour in most palettes. It is one of the oilier paints. After doing some research I found out that without fillers/additives, it’s difficult to get Ultramarine Blue to be stiffer. Some pigments need more oil than others when they are ground in their binder.

Terre Verte: 
A beautiful soft earth colour that is green-yellow. It has very low tinting strength and a velvety texture.

Magenta:
A lovely reddish-purple. Very versatile and useful.

Manganese Violet:
I love this violet because of the colour obviously, but also because it’s not obnoxious as some purples can get.

My overall impressions with Michael Harding Oils is very good. The company only makes oil paint. Harding himself is very active in sourcing pigments and I find the colour descriptions very helpful, since he is an artist as well.

The other thing that I appreciate is the packaging of the paints: the tubes have actual swatches of the painted colour as well as pigment name, pigment type, lightfastness rating, oil content, transparency/opacity, tinting power and drying time. Many reputable companies that sell artist’s grade paint usually list pigment name, opacity/transparency and lightfastness but not all of the other useful information that Harding provides on his paints, as in the picture below:

IMG_4563These paints are not cheap but they are less expensive than Vasari. So far they seem very nice. I still have to use them more to get a better feel for them. But from what I’ve seen so far, I highly recommend them.

I hope this information was useful if not interesting to you.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

Jeannette

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Snob Paints (Vasari)

Hello everyone, I hope your week is progressing well.

As I mentioned in my last post, I acquired some new paints. These paints are some of the world’s best brands and especially Vasari is very expensive. Even more so because I’m in Canada and the exchange rate is abysmal. Vasari is a boutique paint and as far as I know, you can only order from them directly in the U.S. or from Jackson’s Art Supplies in London.

IMG_4522I also got some Michael Harding paints based in the UK (a top quality paint with decent prices), Blockx paints (an old and reputable company based in Belgium),  Mussini paints by Schmincke (a very reputable German company) and Williamsburg paints (a U.S. company that is now owned by Golden, a reputable paint company). And finally, I got some Rublev lead white paint from Natural Pigments. A couple of other brands that should be in the lineup is Old Holland and Maimeiri Puro but those will have to wait until another time.😁

I am going to post swatches of the paints I’ve mentioned here, but this post will focus on Vasari. I will post the other brands in posts to follow. I apologize for the quality of the pictures below as I was just doing these swatches for myself as reference. Then I thought why not post it for everyone else too. By the way, the white paint to colour paint ratio is very rough and I’m pretty bad with the palette knife. Hopefully, you will find it helpful if you’re interested in these paints.

Format:
The left column shows the paint as they were squeezed from the tube labeled with the paint colour.

The right part of the picture is the paint tinted to increasing degrees with M. Graham’s Titanium White Alkyd paint. Please note that Titanium White does skew the colours a little cooler.

Vasari:IMG_4547You can click on the image to enlarge

Paint colours from top to bottom:

Cadmium Lemon: I was surprised at how oily with was straight out of the tube. Nice colour similar to other Cadmiums I own but didn’t seem be overpowering, you can get some nice soft yellows when tinted down.

Genuine Naples Light: This was the most expensive paint not just because of the brand but from any manufacturer that makes it. And not many do because of toxicity/scarcity of the pigment. As you can see, it is a very different yellow that it hard to achieve by mixtures. When tinted down, you can get some really subtle pale yellows

Raw Sienna: Also a wet colour but beautifully neutral. I can see this being used quite a bit.

Ivory Black: A basic warm black that can tint neutral grays. I only have a cool black so it’s a welcome addition.

When I was considering the colours from Vasari, I wanted to get so much more. But because I spent so much on the Genuine Naples Yellow, I got more reasonably priced colours instead.

My first impressions of Vasari surprised me the most, I thought that I would hear the angels sing.. but it didn’t happen. I also new it was a “loose” paint but I was surprised at how oily or how much initial oil from the tube came out. I know you can l leach the oil out on a paper towel but it’s an extra step. There’s no doubt on the beauty of the colours but these are only swatches. I will have to see how they behave when I paint with them. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.

Stay tuned for more swatches and first impressions…

Thanks for visiting,

Jeannette

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What’s New

Hello everyone, I hope you have been keeping well and the new year has been kind to you so far.

I have had a nice break. The first week of the new year was an extension of the Christmas break for our household, since the kids had the first week off from school. After that it was my birthday. I was fortunate/smart in receiving what I wanted for Christmas and birthday gifts (I told my DH exactly what I wanted: everybody is happy 😊). Below is a pic of my spoils:

IMG_4498 I got snob paints, my first real easel and an Ikea cart/taboret. I’m excited to take these babies for a spin. I will be doing some paint swatches and noting my impressions soon.

Keep well and thanks for visiting,

Jeannette

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