Monday, August 15, 2011


It's so easy to think about painting and how to go about it, and then so hard when that paintbrush hits the canvas. I start out with such confidence, and then end up feeling like a first grader every time. I picked up the paintbrush this past week, after much procrastination. I usually use a model of some kind. I chose a couple of flowers in a vase (a Shasta daisy and a rose). I had been wanting to paint the vase ~ I enjoy playing around with transparent glass and reflections. It seemed like an easy thing in one way, but I knew that the rose would be difficult. It was. Even after all this time, I have trouble with complex forms. I'd been thinking of painting for months now, working out solutions in my mind. Somebody once told me that I think too much. That may be true. My painting changes a good bit between sessions, which are sometimes weeks, months, or even years apart. (Canvas painting sessions, I should say. I rarely go very long without doing some kind of art, but it's sometimes illustrations, cartoons, or some such ~ not serious painting). The painting started out well enough. I went a little too dark with the colors, which might be the result of my switching back to Liquitex from Winsor & Newton Finity colors. On the other hand, it might just be from the disconnect that I still feel from trying to paint light to dark (best for acrylic) instead of dark to light (best for oil). Then too, it could be partly because of my natural affinity for certain moody colors and tones.

One of my favorite color mixes (for grays and neutrals) is a blend of raw umber and ultramarine blue. This time, I actually used cobalt instead of ultramarine. I also discovered a new color: transparent raw umber! I don't know if Liquitex has had this out for awhile, or if I'm just now discovering it. As soon as I saw it on the shelf, I knew that it would solve a big problem for me. Umber mixes tend to be flat and highly opaque, like the clay that they are. They can dry pretty dark. I knew, when I saw "transparent" on the label, that this might be a great new experience. I'm glad I found it.

Lest anyone should think this is a blog about Liquitex, or any other brand: Liquitex is not actually my favorite acrylic paint to work with. I used W&N Finity colors for a long time. I love them. I don't like the tubes, though. They still use those old-fashioned crinkly (lead?) tubes and the little bitty lids that are hard to get back on; and ~ if the paint should dry a little ~ impossible to get back off. I decided that I don't paint often enough to stick with Finity. If I ever get the chance to paint "all the time," then I'll probably go back to it.

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