Tag Archives: art

Value Study painting by Lynnette Horn

Paintbrushes for the Acrylic Artist

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning artists make is to short change themselves when it comes to supplies. They go on the cheap, buying a packet of assorted craft brushes and buying student grade paints. And then, they wonder why their paintings are not as they should be. Well, duh.

First of all, let me state that there are no magic brushes that will make your brushstrokes a thing of perfection. But, a good quality set of brushes will help you along your journey and won’t wear out nearly as fast. My rule of thumb has always been to buy as much quality as you can afford.

Just a side note about student grade paints–they contain more solids and filler than artist grade paints. If you are following a dvd or a painting pattern, and using student grade paints you will not be able to achieve the same look as the instructor’s. It will appear duller. If you don’t realize it is the paints, you may get discouraged and give up. Always use a good quality artist paint.

The next issue is deciding what type of quality brushes to buy. There’s so many to choose from–hog bristle, squirrel, synthetic, synthetic mix and nylon. No matter what they are made of, what is most important is the degree of softness. In the store, brushes will always feel a little stiff. they have sizing in them to help them keep their shape in shipping. brush your fingers along the chisel (which is the edge of the bristles) to break up the sizing, before you check for stiffness.

Oil painters usually choose the stiffest brushes that will allow their brushstrokes to be seen. Acrylic artists generally want softer brushes that will paint flat, yet have enough resilience to bounce back to their chisel point. Watercolorists use the softest brushes of them all. Personally, I use DecoArt Traditions Brushes, which are high quality brushes specifically made for acrylics. The Traditions line of brushes fill all my needs with a wide variety of liners, rounds, filberts, flats, angles, mops and blenders. If you are interested, they can be purchased from http://www.artapprenticeonline.com. By the way, I don’t receive a penny for endorsing them.

Not matter which manufacturer you go with, the cost may be prohibitive to buy the whole line. So the beginning artist should concentrate on buying the workhorses that will form the foundation for future purchases. Here is my list–stripped down to the bone essentials:

  • •big fluffy mop
  • •3/4″ or 1″ oval brush
  • •#3 round
  • •#4 filbert
  • •#6 filbert
  • •1/4″ angle
  • •1/2″ angle
  • •#10 dome blender
  • •3/0 liner or 0 liner
  • One step beyond bare bones is a #1 mini mop–I just love this brush and couldn’t leave it off, but absolutely necessary, well…

If I had to, I could get by with only these brushes, yet I rarely paint larger than 16″ x 20″ canvases. If you plan on painting mostly larger canvases, you might want to up the sizes a bit. As you learn different techniques from various instructors, you will want to add to this list. I recommend that you just go slow and only buy as needed. If you take care of them, they will last your a very long time. Tomorrow I will cover taking care of your brushes.

Do you have a favorite brush that would be on your bare bones list?

How to Prepare a Canvas to Paint

I spent the day prepping canvases. So that means I’m between paintings right now. I have several ideas in various stages of development and for me, that is the perfect time to get ‘er done–while I’m still in the thought and sketch mode.

I know many beginning artists dislike prep work. They want to get on to the good stuff with the brushes and pigment. But, if a canvas is not prepped properly it can ruin an otherwise beautiful painting. I didn’t like it at first and tried to create shortcuts, but they never worked out and my art suffered for it.

Somewhere along the line, I made peace with it and can honestly say I enjoy it now. How much prep your canvas needs will depend on your own preferences and sometimes on the technique you choose to use. For instance, if you were painting impasto, which is a technique using thick, textured paint (think Van Gogh), you could get by with just applying primer and sealer. But if you are anything like me, you’ll want a smooth canvas with hardly, if any, weave showing.

There are many products out there and many ways to prep canvases, but I’m going to tell you what works for me. Since I like a very smooth surface, it takes time and it’s easier to prep a number of canvases at once. Prepping will take several days.  I encourage you to comment with your favorite or unique way to prep surfaces, if they differ. The more information available the better it is for beginning artists.

First, I use a medium length palette knife to scoop out a large dollop of DecoArt  Acrylic Gesso and spread it over the canvas.  If the canvas is large, I may use a drop or two of DecoArt Traditions Extender and Blending Medium to keep it pliable longer. Then I use the knife to smash the gesso into the weave of the canvas, scraping the excess as I go.  I wipe the excess onto an area not yet covered and smash and scrape again. Continuing until the whole canvas is covered with a thin layer. (Some prefer to use an old credit card or a paint spatula, instead of a palette knife for this.)

Don’t try to fill and hide the weave with one layer. This is a multi-layer process. Each layer must dry thoroughly and then be sanded before the next layer is applied. If you apply another layer over a layer that has not dried completely, you risk cracking the gesso. But it won’t happen right away. It may wait until you have your beautiful artwork on it.  For that reason, I give my canvases a long dry time. Pending on the season, I may dry then in the shade outdoors. Some use a hair dryer, but I don’t trust that a dryer is getting below the surface.  This is why it takes me so long.

Okay, let’s talk about sanding. I use a fine sandpaper that is meant for wet sanding. Get the sandpaper wet and move lightly over the surface. I use a circular motion and spend extra time on any areas that appear thicker than the rest or any ridges. I take my time to make each layer as smooth as possible. Then I use a clean shop towel to wipe it clean.

I usually use 3 or 4 layers in all. When the last layer is dry and sanded I seal with DecoArt Traditions Multi-Surface Sealer. I let is cure for 24 hours before I would start painting on it. I’m probably over cautious, but hey, I want to make sure this baby’s good enough for my finest work.

Well, that’s the nuts and bolts of prepping. If you found it helpful, share it with your friends. And if you have an even better way to prep, please let me know.

Daffodils by Lynnette Horn

Art is in the Editing

I was out in the front yard this morning trimming rose bushes. I know I should have done that in the fall, but winter came on us very quickly this year. We didn’t have much of a fall and before I knew it we were buried in snow and the deadwood would have to stay until I could get to it this spring.  Anyway, there I was pruning away and an amazing thing happened. Without the massive rose bush ruling over the garden, the spring daffodils suddenly took center stage.

I don’t think I had ever given them a second thought before. But there they were in all their glory. Of course, I had to get my camera. And of course, I had to draw a correlation in art. And that is artistic editing. Some call it their artistic license to change things for the sake of the composition.  When I first started painting my own pieces (not patterns), I would take reference photos and try to paint everything that was in the photo.  This made it realistic, right? No, it made a cluttered mess.

By cutting out unnecessary elements, you will draw more attention to the stars of the show. As a new artist, you might ask, “What do I cut out?” Well, that really depends on what you are trying to say with in your painting. What do you want your viewers to see the most? That will be your area of interest or focus. The secondary elements should help lead the viewer through the painting to the focus area and back out again–around and around.

Using the photo above, I might choose to have the rose bush as the main focal point, with the recycle bag in the background and add my loppers to the foreground, totally eliminating the daffodils if I wanted to tell a story about garden pruning. If I wanted to tell a story about spring I may or may not leave the pruned rosebush in the background, keep the clump of grass in the front right and eliminate the rest. Or I might choose just a few daffodils instead of the whole clump. (It’s always good to paint in odd numbers–1, 3 or 5. It adds more interest.)  Or, I might go all dramatic and concentrate on just one bloom. As an artist the decision is all mine. Nothing is written in stone that says I have to stay true to what’s in a photo, or in what I see.

How  would you edit this photo? Is there a story there you’d like to see?

Painting of a lotus by Lynnette Horn

Following the Light

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. I haven’t been able to get out much, with all the Easter brunch preparations, but the windows are open, the sun is shining and a lovely breeze is flowing through the house.  I’m sitting here, watching the light dance across the carpet in rhythm with the curtains as them billow in the breeze.

It got me thinking about light in terms of art. In my painting it seems I am always following the light.  Of course, the brightest light and the darkest shadows will be the main interest in any painting. This is the money spot where I want my audience to linger. It’s call the point of focus and can be within a larger focus area. But, I don’t want my viewer to only see the point of focus, or why would I bother painting the rest of the canvas. I can use the path of the light to lead the viewer’s eye around the painting.

Besides a direct main light source, another light to take into consideration is ambient light. It bounces off of everything, creating light even in the shadows. That’s why shadows are not totally black. Think of a cloudy day when the sun is blocked by the clouds. There is still like but it isn’t coming directly from the sun, but bouncing off the clouds. Then there is reflective light.  This can seem confusing to the novice artist. Picture an apple on a counter and the sun shining in from the window on it. Light bounces off its shadow , creating a reflective light on the apple. The light appears on the shadowed side. How cool is that?

If I’m painting a realistic apple I need to give it a reflective light on it’s darker side, or it won’t look real. As you practice with your artist’s eye, follow the light and see where it takes you. Take a look at my painting above. Where is the light coming from? Do you see any reflective light? What about ambient light? Let me know if you found this blog helpful or if you have any suggestions for future blogs.

Clouds photo by Lynnette Horn

Are Clouds Really White?

I can’t believe the beautiful day we are having.  The sun is shining, birds are singing and the trees are blossoming. It’s a perfect day to go outside and put on my artist’s eye. Yep, you heard me right. Artist’s see things differently from the average person. It’s a way of seeing beyond our color biases.

In art, color bias usually means how a pigment leans toward another pigment. For example one red might lean more towards blues, while another red might lean towards yellows, like Naphthol Red and Naphthol Red Light. Both are red, but one is better for mixing purples and the other is better for making oranges. But this is not the color bias I am referring to.

Color bias can also mean the influences that affect how we see objects. It is a hindrance to observation. We are taught in school that trees are green, mountains are purple and clouds are white. But if we painted them as such they would look flat and not realistic at all. Take clouds, for example. We’ve been taught that clouds are white so when we look at a cloud we see white. But is it really? If we take the time to push through our bias and really observe, we’ll see  many possible colors in the clouds–pink, orange, blue, grey, purple and yellow.

Pushing past our color bias, for white in this case, is called seeing with our artist’s eye. It takes practice until it becomes second nature. So while you are outside this spring and summer, get your artist eye on and really observe what’s around you. Before long you’ll be making wonderful discoveries and blowing away those color biases for good.

 

Beachy_Shell_Collection

Beachy Collection

I’m so excited about my latest downloadable painting patterns being released today. I really didn’t expect them to be available until next week. I put a lot of thought into their creation, so that even someone who has never picked up a paintbrush can paint these. They can be found at http://www.artapprenticeonline.com.

One of the many tools of the learning artist is painting patterns. The trick is to find patterns from artists who do more than teach disco painting, “”Dis go here and ‘dis go there.” A painting pattern should give you something that will progress your journey as an artist not just a pretty design. With it you will expand your arsenal of skills and broaden your knowledge, as well.

Many artists only paint patterns. There is nothing wrong with this if that’s what they want to do. But for me painting patterns is a means to an end, a method of learning, along with DVD’s, streaming videos, seminars and classes, that can advance you towards whatever goal you have with your art. It doesn’t matter if you choose a path to decorative painting or fine art, availing yourself to painting patterns can lead you to become an independent artist. I know that is what I wanted when I first started this journey. Luckily, I found  wonderful mentors at Art Apprentice Online, which provides many resources including painting patterns that actually teach.

You can imagine my excitement when I reached the point where I could create on my own patterns with which others could learn. So the cycle continues. The student becoming the teacher.

 

Painting of a lotus by Lynnette Horn

Art is for Everyone–Talent is Optional

I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me they can’t paint, that they can’t even draw stick figures. It seems the general consensus of those around me has been that if you aren’t born with artistic talent you can’t be an artist. In reality, there are very few born artists. The rest of us become artists the hard way, through learning and practice and practice and practice.

The only true prerequisite is a hunger or passion for art. The rest can all be learned. Through this site I hope to nurture your hunger and help you along the road to becoming an artist. There may be a hint or two along the way for those who are already on their way, also.

So I hope you will join me through this blogging adventure and maybe grow your artist wings in the process. Stay tuned…