this past week’s painting, process shots, and sadness

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I’ve been painting every day since I last posted. Here is my current favorite brush and some rags, in front of the cloud section of a painting I’m working on. No matter where you are, there’s always a storm on the way.

The day after xmas my elderly lady dog died. She had been sick, off and on, with laryngeal paralysis all year. She was 16. She died in her sleep after a long day of rough times breathing- We’d had the vet coming in the morning, but she was gone when we woke up. She was one of the best, sweetest dogs I’ve ever known, and I miss her. I’ve gotten a lot of condolences, so thank you guys, it did really help.

I went back to painting the day after that. These are the things I’ve been working on all week. (For solstice, I got an espresso maker, stretcher bars, and some brushes…it was a lovely holiday despite the sad time right after.) I also got a popcorn maker. I have been living on lattes and popcorn now for a week, by the way. It’s just fine.

 

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Here are the initial stage of the piece I’m currently working on. I’ll probably finish this one today. It’s an area near Ona Beach in Oregon, where a creek washes out to the surf, causing a little rift and depression in the sand. I made sketches of this just after sundown. The sky was far too crazy red for my taste in the beginning, but I think it’s better now. I kept messing with the clouds, scraping them off and trying again. I think  that it’s all right now.

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The next thing I want to show you is a painting that was really hard for me to finish. I liked the rocks, the low point of view, with the ocean at my back. Just damp puddles in the sand that had been churned up by people walking around. This was near Heceta Head. There were SO many people there that day, all my sketches say “too many people” in the margins. I also took a photo that day, for reference, because there were birds. Flocks of odd birds and the way they were flying around the people was what I really wanted to paint.  So here you see the beginning sketch in paint, then the landscape alone. Then…
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Then I used my reference to scrape out areas for the birds. As soon as I started painting them I was unhappy. They were difficult. I didn’t like birds any more. But I’d already committed, mentally, to having them there. I cursed the birds, I fought the birds, I finished the birds and they look all right, for little salty bastards that just happened to fly into the painting. You can see the finished image here, or buy prints. The original for this is spoken for.

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When the birds were done I did this small, quick study of a logging road on Rte 34 near Alsea. I had sketched this site from every angle many times, and it’s one of my favorite subjects. Always finding new little things to emphasize or change about it. The mood there was always damp, diffuse, misty. I started then finished this one in a great mood.

The original is for sale, as well as prints which you can find at this link.
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Then, going through my sketch pad, I realized that on my last visit to Phoenix I had done some sketching at roadside. I love roads, highways or side roads, I really enjoy drawing them and painting them. This was in Northern AZ. I stopped to mess with my GPS, pulled off onto a frontage road, and realized that the sky ahead was very ominous. VERY ominous. If you have seen this blog entry you know what happened about an hour after I made the sketches for this painting. I think I decided to stay a bit and draw just to avoid driving into this maelstrom.

I did still of course have to drive through it. I liked the way the road ended in a little hummock though, in this sketch- the road of course continued over that hill on along the way but it looked like the end of the road, like that would just be the end of the trip. I did another recent painting from another sketch I made that day, facing south. That one is here. This one was drawn facing north along the frontage, away from the storm. The light was very weird. It was near sundown but not quite.
On the left you can see it’s mostly turpentine and a little scrubbing with an old brush to start with. Then I went at it with very thick paint to finish. This one has been scanned now, and the varnish is drying. The original is for sale and prints are at this link.
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RIP Hildie, you were a good girl.

taking the day or three off for solstice, getting brushes and stuff ready for being idle

if I’m working every day, all I do is wipe down my brushes with regular turpentine and maybe plain veg oil at the end of the night and forget about it. If you’re using oil brushes every day, they don’t have a chance to dry out.

Since I’m taking a few days off for Solstice, I need to actually clean my brushes!

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there are good and fancy soaps for this. I just use oil-breaker dish detergent. this is a generic brand, but blue dawn works pretty well.

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again, there’s fancy and better suited soaps for this, but I use the cheapest bar soap for ‘oily skin’. I use the dish soap to get most paint and solvent off, then use this to really scrub all the way up to the base where the bristles attach. then I rinse it all out.

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I scrub pretty well. I don’t do this often so I try to get way up into it.

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I really dry the water out, squeeze em in a paper towel. I want them dry now.

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plain,cheap vegetable oil. I dip them into it.

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Then I wipe almost all of it off the brush. I leave them just greasy enough to hold their shape. If you use natural bristles you can use conditioner for this (like you’d use on your hair) but if you’re broke or cheap, this works fine.

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before I paint again I’ll use turp to wipe all that oil out of the brushes so it doesn’t end up in the painting. here’s all my stuff tucked in neatly out of the way.

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little bonus , thumbnails of things I’m planning to work on soon.

some works from the archives.

These are the more popular things I’ve made available as prints over the last few years. They’re not all my own personal favorite pieces, but they’ve gotten the most attention and love from you guys. I think collecting them together here might give me some clues about what you all like so much, maybe.

Also I won’t be posting for a few days as we’ll be celebrating solstice here, but I’ll be back right after, on the 23rd. xox

“Down with the Ship”
This was a piece of tattoo flash I did as part of a series, and people really seem to like the sideways lighthouse in it. I did it at 11×14″ in watercolor, and did the linework with a nib pen and ink. The original sold and the prints have sold a lot too, I don’t often draw ships but I think I did a decent job on this one. You can still get some sizes of prints of this, here.

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“Einstein”

I did a little contest on my facebook asking people to tell me the funniest story about someone falling down. My friend Tiny told a great story, and was the winner. The prize was a portrait of anyone famous they liked, they’d get to keep the original art. He chose Einstein, and man was he fun to draw. Lots of people seem to like this one. I tried to give him nice gentle eyes. Yes, there are still prints of him. I did this one at 8×12″ in colored pencil.

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“Red Highway”

The original of this, I gave to a collector of my work. It was a 10×13″ watercolor. Of all the landscapes I’ve done, people seem to be most interested in this one. Maybe it’s all that hot dawn cloud color. I’m not sure.

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“Dahlia with Dice”

Of all my still life work, this one gets the most attention. Maybe it’s the format, that high vertical? It was originally a 12×16″ watercolor painting. The prints of this one are popular and I’ve made a few handmade runs of it, as well as the open edition prints.

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“River Otter”

A lot of you guys love the animal totem series, and this guy is the crowd favorite. He’s a little more simple than some of the others, so I think a lot of people just really, really like otters. Colored pencil on handmade tinted paper, 8×12″.

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“Weeping Doll”

I’ve done handpainted prints of her. The original sold as soon as it was finished. I’ve redone the entire image twice and both reproductions by hand sold immediately. And the open edition prints…people really like this beat-up old doll. She’s pretty melacholy. It’s originally a 10×13″ watercolor on hotpress.

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Then, there’s “Shy Owl”. The most popular of them all. Due to the buyer of the original schmoozing me out of open edition printing, (I was an idiot and won’t be doing that so cheaply ever, EVER again) there are only cards available of this guy. Every print I did make of it, that limited amount, sold instantly. People email me asking for a print all the time. I’d be at least a few hundred dollars richer if I’d never said I’d only make a few prints of him.
An expensive lesson.

I'll never give up my reproduction rights so cheaply ever ever again.

I’ll never give up my reproduction rights so cheaply ever ever again.

 

materials post two, and a finished seascape in oils (or two)

Some of the materials I use are weird. Other are pretty common. I use odorless turpentine. The cheap stuff. I use old paints because I was given a huge box of many tubes of the basic colors in oil when a friend’s aunt died (she had been a painter of still lifes) so my paint choices are the odd thing.

I use a lot of yellow ochre, real madder. Payne’s grey, Naples yellow, prussian blue and lead white. I have some french ultramarine and viridian in there, but I use them less often. I have raw umber, burnt sienna, cad red, vermilion, and lamp and ivory black too.

I don’t have any burnt umber except for in miscible oils- I have a handful of those, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow, burnt umber, ultramarine, titanium white and lamp black. Not too many tubes of that stuff. I got those to do my giant animal painting project and I’m not sure what else I’ll use them for. I like the oily oils a little better, but these mix in just the same.

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Water-miscible oils- I have there some brushes (oil brushes), a cup of water, some liquin, and the paints. I started out using water and paint for the underpainting, which dried pretty fast, overnight. Then started in with paint and liquin, then on to fat paint on its own.

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Here’s another painting in the miscible oils. All I had out was the brushes, palette, liquin, and water cup. Almost as simple as working in watercolor.

I like really soft fat brushes. I only have maybe one or two hog bristle brushes even though I know most oil painters like them. I have one big one and one little one for oils. The rest of my brushes are synthetic, pretty much- mostly filberts and a few chisels. I have a big flat short-bristle brush I use to blend, it’s squirrel instead of sable but it’s soft enough to work well. I do have maybe two small sable brushes and a super silky rigger brush.

I’m sure if I was trained and taught by someone academic I’d know more about all this and make different choices.

I don’t have a lot of money for brushes so that’s about it for that. I try to take care of them but I am extremely bad at maintenance and remembering to clean them- I usually soak them up in turp and clean them every day when I’m done, and if I won’t paint for a day or more I wash them out as well as I can with detergent soap. Sometimes I forget and there’s a casualty. I get a new brush once or twice a year. I used to paint in oils almost only, but for a few years now I’ve worked in watercolor too so I switch back and forth every few months. (I rarely, if ever, use acrylics for anything)

Right now I have liquin and some old old copal as mediums. Liquin is good, it dries fast enough that I can work over an area within a few days, or the next day if I get aggressive with it (like in an underpainting) and the copal I think looks good as a top surface or glaze. I really wish I had more glazes and varnishes though, I’d love to try a few new things for that. I have had stand oil, and used it, I think I have a tiny bit left. It takes a while to dry out completely but it looks really cool and glossy if I’m doing a painting without much texture.

12391419_10153347790822712_110052715696411257_nOnce I have that first layer in I let things dry a little. Then I use more pigment, less media (turp or liquin) and lay in color. This bigger seascape, you’re seeing layer two. Basic color areas.

Here you can see the kinds of brushes I’m using on the bigger painting. One is a large, super super soft brush that I’m using to soften up all of the stuff I don’t want emphasized. I really only want the center area where the one wave breaks to be important, so I go through and soften the other areas once they are a little bit tacky. You can see I’ve added a lot of detail areas above that second wave there, little bits of grey and of the cad red that’s in the sky.

IMG_20151213_054346Here is the little seascape that I made as a warmup, it’s done I think. I even signed it.

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I have had insomnia for about a week so most of my work has been happening at night. After a while my sleep schedule will head back on around the clock though, I’m sure.

I will probably do a materials list for watercolor or pen and ink wash stuff next monday. xox

 

Here is the finished foggy dawn Lincoln City landscape (click image for bigger image and prints)

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I’m putting this one in a silvered wooden frame.

 

And here is the finished larger painting of the cliff south of yachats, in a nice antique oiled wood frame. I’ll scan it for prints when it is completely dry and right before I varnish it. I don’t know when the originals will be for sale, as I need to amass a handful for a gallery show this year.

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materials post: oils, article in Brut Force

 

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I wanted to show you what I use with my oils. in this photo you can see at the top left an expandable wash bucket. I use detergent in the water, this is for any washing I have to do with my brushes, but I usually don’t. if you paint every day and rinse the brushes with turp when you’re done they stay soft.

in front of that you can see a good example of modernization. in the left is a bottle of “copal”. this new product is not copal, which is made from amber/pine resin, instead it’s some citric junk. next to itf you can see a corked bottle of real copal, which I’ve got a jug of hidden away from many years ago and dole out to myself in small quantities. I’ve been using this small jar for about a year.

in front of that is a sealable jar I use for turp. I get the odorless but it still stinks. I use this while I’m working to wipe paint off the brushes. nothing else.

on the right
you can see my paints. they’re antique, I inherited them. the cadmium paints I use aren’t hues (substitution colors) but real cad reds and yellows. it’s poisonous so I can’t eat a sandwich while I work. I’ve got a smallish tube of real rose madder which I hoard. this and the ultramarine are also very old. I think maybe 40s-60s era based on what I was told. they’re heavy pigments, really rich compared to the newer brands I tried. I use lead white from the same batch as well, I’ve got a lot of that. more poison!

the brushes- that big one is hog bristle. the next biggest is synthetic sable and very soft, I use it to blend. there’s a stippler there I use for scrubbing color into or off of the canvas. a few filbert and bright firm synthetics, small chisels, and then a really nice long real sable rigger.

I use a mayo tray as a palette, I’ve bought a few over the years for tattooing but this one got dented while I was traveling so it’s a palette now. I cover it with clingwrap at the end of the day so my paint stays soft.

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Here you can see everything set up for working. I use a mayo tray that unfortunately got dented as a palette. I’m working on two paintings, more about those in a minute. you can see I use a lot of paper towels too as well as a rough old rag. The not-paint-water mug makes its usual appearance, though when I work in oil it just holds the brushes. I don’t trust my brain. There is a bottle of Bob Ross gesso in this photograph. It is empty, I like having it there though. It reminds me not to eat paint.

 

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This is an underpainting, I don’t do them every time but this time I did. I then screwed up the painting beyond repair with some bad composition choices so it’s going to get scrubbed and I’ll reuse the canvas for another thing.

Here is a terrible blurry photo of the little seascape, which I think will turn out just fine.

This is a thin first layer just to lay in shape and tone. It’ll get a second layer, some detail and smoothing, and a glaze.

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I don’t use a lot of medium, I have liquin if I’m impatient and a stand oil too just in case but mostly I work fat, just paint, and heavy and thick. it takes a long time to dry but I like the look. the copal is my glaze at the end.

I use liquin early on, I like the early layers to dry fast. I keep two or three pieces going at once in oil, so something is always ready to be worked on. Going back and forth from watercolor is like stepping onto the ground from a carousel, though. Takes me a minute to get my sea legs back.

 

You have seen my watercolor setup, which is a lot simpler.

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I trust myself more when it’s water and not turp in the mug. All these things have been put away for a few weeks so I can work with oil for a bit. Then the oils will get packed into the box and these things will come back out. I used to have a few dining room tables, each with a different medium set up on it, so I didn’t have to pack things away like this. Right now my space is very limited so it’s one thing at a time. We are supposed to be putting in a shed studio though, so maybe that will change.

 

 

I also want to mention the fantastic magazine Brut Force, which recently interviewed me. The whole magazine is great and I feel a little out of my depth being in there among so many beautiful creative artists and their work. You can read about that here. I usually do not use the telephone but the interviewer had a good bedside manner and he got me through it with aplomb.

 

As a last thought, I’m planning to start scheduling posts by topic; I think mondays will be tech/materials day, tues will be tattoo advice or informaion, weds will be process shots, thrs or fri will be tattoo or other photos.

Process photos of recent paintings!

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(more…)

process photos, owl and quince.

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art show at the Cowfish in Eugene!

DSC_0232I could say so much more about today and tonight if I wasn’t so tired!

Spent the day stretching nine foot by six foot canvasses with the help of the wonderful Deb, then hung everything with the help of the magical Shawn, then lots of my favorite people showed up to check it all out… I’m just going to post photos of the process and the day and night. This show is hanging at Cowfish until the end of October, if you are in the neighborhood feel free to drop in and stand next to the gigantic bear.

deb's math

deb’s math

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Three projects at a time

BEK

black-eyed kids

I’m back east in Spokane for a few weeks. In the time I’m here, I have to:

I leave October 1st and I won’t get home until the 26. It’s going to be a long trip full of events and work!

Here are some photos- small images from the new book. A picture or two of the seminar prep work (kinda boring to look at but the seminar itself will be out of this goddamn world, you should go preregister for it, because it’ll cost a little more if you just show up on the day)- and pictures of the lifesized predators.

Now, I had some of this work done from before- the seminar text I had written already, but not the slideshow or the handouts. I had the illustrations sketched, but in pencil and messy, not inked or scanned. I had copious notes for the book text but nothing completed or proofread. I had the shark nearly finished and the grolar bear and wolf sketched out as underpaintings. But everything else? I’ve had to work every day I’ve been home, sometimes pulling ten hour days on these projects. Not to mention I have another show going on all this month at a gallery in Seattle! I spent last month’s days off prepping for that.

Once I leave, I have no days off until halfway through the month. And then I will spend those days driving.

It’s going to be a long and rough road until November, but I think I can do it all. Then I can relax for two weeks. Then I’ll be in Seattle at the shop there for two weeks…and then I will not be working in December. Like, at all. Maybe on personal little things but NO big projects like this. It’ll be a nice break and I think my brain will need it by then.

Hope to see you guys at one of my stops on this trip!
(I’m totally booked for the trip for tattoos- except for one day in Redding, and one day in Phoenix. If nobody wants in I’m gonna take those days off, though. !!!)

jersey devil

jersey devil

deerwoman

deerwoman

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a short break

a short break

seminar stuf

seminar stuff

running on fumes?

running on fumes?

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art opening at True Love Gallery, Seattle in september!

Art opening images: what a great show! My friend Aaron and I had work hanging, there was a great DJ, and snacks. Thanks to George Long for putting on the show and being such a great organizer. True Love has a great space for art, too.

The work will be hanging until October 4th, so stop by there and take a look if you missed the opening. Some things have sold but some are still up and waiting for you… xox

 

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