skill development

All posts in the skill development category

REPAIRING A PLASTER FRAME

Published January 6, 2020 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Framing On A Budget – Part 4

As I stated earlier, I don’t recommend re-fitting ornate Plaster Of Paris frames. However, if it means the difference between repairing an existing frame you already own and purchasing a new one there is a way to fix chipped or broken edges. First, I want you to notice that on most plaster frames such as the one shown in the photo, there is a repeating pattern on the corners and sides. To do this repair, you will need to make a clay mold of the unbroken matching side of the frame, fill it with plaster and use the new piece to repair the broken side.

What kind of clay should you use to make your mold?

The easiest clay to work with is made by Crayola and it air dries. Soft and pliable, Crayola Air-Dry (brand name) modeling clay allows the formation stable arts and crafts without the need for an oven or kiln. Smoother, finer, and less sticky than traditional clay, Air-Dry Clay softens easily with water and is a quick clean up. It’s ideal for traditional methods. It works just fine for this type of quick project and doesn’t require much more than your kitchen table and sink as a workspace. Most art supply houses carry it, or you can order it from http://www.dickblick.com/products/crayola-air-dry-clay/.

Working with Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris is a great material to use for basic sculptures and craft projects because it is easy to prepare and sets in a few minutes. Mixing Plaster of Paris is easy. The powder is very light and fine. to avoid getting the powder to the eyes and nose, wear a dust mask. Never mix Plaster of Paris with your bare hands.

Cover your work area with a plastic mat or with newspapers. Find a mixing container (preferably a disposable one) that will hold the size of the concoction you intend to make up.
The ideal ratio for the mixture is 2 parts Plaster of Paris to 1 part water.

Mixing Steps

Start with the water. Measure out the Plaster of Paris in another container. Break up any lumps of powder with a spoon.

Start adding the Plaster of Paris powder to the water in your mixing container by sprinkling or sifting the powder over the water. Do not add the powder in one clump; instead try to sprinkle the powder over as much area as you can.

Do not mix yet. Instead, tap the side of your mixing container with a spoon to disperse the powder into the water and remove any air bubbles.

Continue adding the Plaster of Paris, patting the sides of the container as you add the powder. Your cue to stop is when you notice that the powder has almost covering the surface and is no longer being as easily absorbed. Gently blend the Plaster of Paris mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency. Do not stir strongly or you may create air bubbles.

*If colored Plaster of Paris mixture is desired, add some poster paint once the mixture is free of lumps and has a smooth consistency. Continue mixing from side to side until the color is uniformly dispersed.

Allow the mixture to stand for a minute before pouring it into your mold. Don’t attempt to wash your left over residue down the drain! It will clog your pipes! Left over mixture should be allowed to harden and then thrown into the garbage can.

Using the Mold

Step 1: find the broken pattern on the side of the frame or corner. Using plaster carving tools try to make the broken edge as flat as possible.

Step 2: make a clay mold of the opposite unbroken side. You can find the instructions for making a simple clay mold on this site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Clay-Mold/

Soften the clay and then push it onto the unbroken side of the frame. You should use a large enough piece of clay so that when you turn the mold over, it will fit squarely on a flat surface. If the clay has dried before you pour the plaster, it might be wise to take the precaution of spraying the inside of the mold with cooking spray. If you do this, take a small brush or Q-tip and smooth out any bubbles in the oil before pouring the plaster. Allow the plaster to set.

Step 3: Fill it with Plaster of Paris and let it set hard, peel off the mold and glue the replacement piece to the broken place. Since it is on the opposite side, you will probably need to reverse it in order for it to fit properly.

It will also be necessary to fit the new piece to the broken space by doing some scraping with plaster knives and probably some sanding once it is glued down to make the new piece fit smoothly with the frame. I then recommend re-painting or if you are using gold leaf covering the entire frame for better color matching.

 

Earning Residual Income With Your Work

Published December 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

We may as well admit it: all of us secretly want to not only create fabulous art but want the public to appreciate it so much they pay us fabulous prices for it. The wonderful thing about making prints of our work is it a way to earn residual income on our art. If an artist sells a painting for $500 that is a one-time fee; if that same artist also sells 20 prints for $15 each then they have earned a total of $800 on that same painting. Naturally as an artist, you want any reproductions of your art to reflect the quality of the art itself, which means you want to make the best quality reproductions you can find. I have had several artists ask me where they can get good quality prints made at a reasonable price. It’s a good question. There are two ways to go with this: make the prints yourself or get them made professionally.

If you are planning to make them yourself, besides the printer, you will need a good quality camera that takes high-resolution photos (Canon Rebel is excellent but there are others out there). I don’t recommend a point-and-shoot camera or your cell phone if you intend to make professional looking reproductions; although the smart phone photo quality is improving, I did notice that quality seemed to suffer with larger size prints. I would also recommend a good photo-editing program such as Photoshop Elements. I chose Elements because it will service either Apple or PC computers, the basic editing techniques are simple and it does have tutorials.

A printer that prints on a variety of paper products is essential if you are making your own prints. What brand of printer makes the best prints? Well, there are a lot of differing opinions on this, all having to do with what kind of ink will give you the truest colors, how easy they are to use, whether to use ink jet or laser printers, etc. Making the prints yourself does mean that you are probably going to be limited to paper and the sizes you can make; most home printers will only take legal or letter size paper. The printer that gave me the very best prints I ever made at home was an inexpensive Kodak printer. Unfortunately it proved too fragile to last long. Epson, Brother and HP all make good machines that will give you nice paper prints. You can even obtain letter size “canvas paper’ for printing on the internet, although I wasn’t really happy with the quality of the prints I made with it on my home printer. If you are going to make prints yourself, you should consider the cost of the ink. Many ink jet printers devour ink pods like a T-Rex. If you make a lot of reproductions, Ink jet refills can be so expensive that you might find it less costly to get your prints made by a print shop. Laser printers also make good quality prints, but a color laser printer and the toner to go with it can also break your budget. You will need to decide if the cost of the printing will allow you to still make sales at a profit.

The next option is to have your prints made by a professional printer. I am speaking here of commercial printers such as Kinkos or CopyMax’s Impress. The photo departments of Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart etc. may not give you a professional quality print because their print programs are designed to “flatten or homogenize” color to an “average” standard, however they also will work with you on this issue because they want your return business. Most of them can also do a canvas print mounted on stretcher bars. Again, ask for a proof because if you have vibrant, saturated or delicate shades you may find your print simply doesn’t reflect these qualities.

To use an outside printer you need a high-resolution jpeg or other type of photo of your work. If you are not a photographer, I suggest you arrange to have a professional take the photo in order to ensure that the photo has no distortions and that the color is true to the original art. You can have the photo transferred to either a jump drive or disc. An issue with having your prints made by someone else that doesn’t come up with DIY (Do It Yourself) printing: calibrating their printer to your photos. Calibrating a printer has nothing to do with the printer type; it has to do with communication between the computer and the printer. Even if the photo from your thumb disc looks okay on their computer screen, the print may still come out darker or lighter than your art. Always ask for a proof before accepting the print because it may be necessary for you to take your disc or jump drive home so that you can adjust the lighting or color of the photo in order to make the print “true” to the original when using an outside printer. If you do this, always save the “adjusted” photo as a separate file and leave the original alone. Making these changes is much easier if you are dealing with a local printer.

The other option for having your prints made is to find a local professional who specializes in making art prints. Here in Fresno we have several but Mullins Photography is the one most favored by local artists. If you bring in your art, they make their own scan and reproduce a print that is virtually identical to the original. Ask other local artists in your area where they get their prints made. Be prepared to open your wallet for this option though; because the cost of the initial set up fee will be more expensive than say Kinkos or Impress. On the other hand, it probably will be a one-time fee for that particular piece of art and the quality will be the best.

You can also order prints from the internet; a number of Internet sites do on-line printing. These sites are sometimes referred to as POD (Print On Demand) sites, and most of them do an excellent job. Fine Art America for instance will not only make your prints on a variety of paper, metal, cards and canvas, but also sell matting and framing and ship to your customer. With on-line printers however, you will have the same difficulties with the calibration as with your local outside printer. Since you can’t demand a proof from this type of site, I would suggest you get a small print made for yourself and adjust the photo. Keep notes on what you did so that you can use them when sending in later prints. The nice thing about most POD sites is your customer may order directly from the site without you having to deal with nasty stuff like figuring out shipping costs.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO PROMOTE YOUR WORK!

Published October 7, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

There is a new catch phrase going around: Support your own community: buy Local! Guess what? As an artist or writer You are local!

Some of you may feel guilty about promoting sales of your work. For those of you who dofeel guilty about telling friends, past customers, family and acquaintances “Hey, consider buying from me when selecting art for your home or office or buying a book as a gift, let’s consider a few things. Do you know what the 80/20 Rule is? Well it says that 80% of money spent locally stays in circulation locally. By promoting theideaof buying your art, you are contributing to the health of your neighborhood! When someone buys art from you, they provide you with money, which you in return spend on groceries, rent, clothing and other stuff (which hopefully youalso bought in a local business!)

Sales tax spent with you supports local infrastructure, police, fire and schools. Money stays with the community when spent in local businesses. The Tax Policy Center: (clickhere for the entire article), says, “Local governments received transfers from both the federal and state governments equal to about one-seventh of total revenue. From their own sources, they collected about $700 billion, or 17 percent of all government revenue.” When your friends and family buy from you, they are helping to return money to their local economy, so youshould feel no hesitation in pointing out to them that your workcan be a resource for their decorating projects!

Spending money locally shows pride in their community culture and local products. As a person who lives in the area you are more apt to locally recirculate money your friends’ family and acquaintances spent with you on your art in the form of purchases from other local business, thus supporting the local work force. When you give some of that money to local charities, even if it is just the local boy or Girl Scout troop, or maybe the local food bank, you are keeping money spent with you in movement. It’s a fiscal circle that keeps people working to make the stuff they and others buy.

“I’m an artist/writer, not a business person”,you shout. Well, I hate to break this to you, but anyone who wants to sell his or her art or books isin business. According to Wikipedia, “a business(also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization or person engaged in the trade or sale of goods, services, or both to consumers”. Q.E.D. Business is NOT a dirty word. Businesses allow us as consumers to buy food, clothes, and gas. It allows us to find a place to live (real estate sales and rentals), and most likely it employs a lot of us who are not fortunate enough to be able to make a living selling our work. OOPS!There is that word “sell” again.

Local Business Can Support Local Artists and Writers

  • Local business can provide a mutual support base by being willing to allow artists and writers to display their work for sale in their stores and offices. The artist or writer will come in to see their art and most likely buy something from the business. They will also promote the business by telling their sphere of friends and family about having art or books on display in the business and urging them to come and see it.
  • Allowing creative people to promote shows, book signings, sales and event by displaying flyers in local business helps develop a mutual dependency.

Local Artists Offer

1 on 1 personal contact with artist/writer
Cachet to

Home/office

Unique Versatile gifts for each individual
Mutual

Support Base

Buy Art

or Books From Local Writers  & Artists

and artists

What value does the community receive when they purchase art from a local artist rather than from a national chain store?

  • Well-made handcrafted items give a cachet to their office, home and gift giving. When giving gifts it shows the buyer not only thought enough of the person receiving the gift to take into account that person’s personal tastes, but also took the time to check the gift out carefully.
  • Buying art and books from local artists and writers gives the opportunity for a one-on-one personal experience and gives buyers an opportunity to develop a personal and professional relationship with the artist or writer.
  • Books and Art are individually created unique, versatile items. Why buy something indistinguishable from what everyone else is buying?

What YOU As The Artist Or Writer Can Do To Promote Sales In Your Neighborhood This Holiday Season:

  • Remind past clients, friends, and family, church and organization members that you are a resource for buying holiday gifts or décor items.
  • Offer items for sale as “Sales specials”.
  • Offer a bonus or discount off a future purchase if the buyer refers another buyer who actually purchases your work. This type of promotion is done all the time in other industries; it is sometimes called a “referral commission’. No money is actually paid until the other buyer makes his/her purchase and mentions the name (or brings in a coupon) of the referring buyer.
  • Artists can adapt some art into small affordable reproductions (cards, small prints, puzzles, ornaments, cups, etc.) for sale at a holiday boutique or Studio Open House.
  • Writers can arrange book signings at local boutiques, stores or other holiday events.
  • Send past clients, friends and neighboring businesses postcards showing your work and invite them to view it in person at a local book signing, show or gallery.
  • Take advantage of the local Art Scene by inviting a selected few to come with you on Art Hop nights and show them to galleries where your work is being sold.

TIPS ON PRICING YOUR ART

Published September 16, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I tried the free art price calculator on the web, and found it interesting, although pricing art is so idiosyncratic that it wasn’t really useful. In my work as a Director of Art-Tique, I am often asked how much they should charge for their work by artists who are just starting out. I always tell beginning artists that art pricing is personal (meaning every artist pretty much makes up their own rules!). However, there are some guidelines:

Make sure the price of the art first covers the cost of your time and materials.

If you want to use the “per square inch” approach, you can emulate the Printing companies who do price by the square inch. Take a survey (get prices) locally from both a high-end printer of Giclee and your local print shop (Kinkos, Office Impress) and check out the pricing on the on-line printer Fine Art America. Compare the prices.

If you don’t want to use that approach, go to a local art show, compare your art to the winning art, and check out other artists’ prices. This will give you a ballpark figure on how much other artists in your area are charging. Where prospective buyers will see the art does make a difference. I live in a large city surrounded by farming and agriculture that is not considered an art mecca for California. If I sell a painting in my area I will get less for it than if I had marketed on the Coast because for some reason, buyers think that there is more ‘cachet’ from art bought in Carmel or San Francisco than that bought in Fresno. The same painting by the same artist will earn more if marketed in a pricey gallery in New York than it will in New Jersey.

When checking pricing at an art show, you should be looking for the following criteria: Artists who paint the same or similar subject matter (abstracts, still lifes, portraits, landscapes, etc.) Be honest: is your art as good as theirs is? If you don’t know, ask a more experienced artist to critique your work. Please be careful with this; the person who does the critiquing should be a more experienced artist with some knowledge of technique and the principles of art. We love them, but the opinions of our friends and family who don’t know any more than we do about art really aren’t useful as critiques.

Enter some art shows and have a professional (a paid judge) give you an honest opinion.

Lastly, how much do you like the art? If you really like it, don’t give it away. Price it so that you will be happy if it sells, not regret that you gave it away. If it doesn’t sell, you can enjoy looking at it!

If you are still interested in using the art price calculator, here a couple of links to free art pricing sites.

http://www.artscope.net/artworth.html

Or

http://www.artpricecalculator.com/

LOCAL ELEPHANT DUNG

Published September 2, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

While I created this blog specifically for the City and County in which I live, it can apply equally to anywhere or anywhen in America.

Let’s talk about that huge pile of elephant dung in the middle of the room; namely, that adults in my community of Fresno and Clovis as well as elsewhere who were educated in our public schools consider a print or statue from Target or Wal-Mart to be worth as much as an original painting or sculpture from a local artist. Why is this? Well, I believe it is because they don’t think of art or paintings as a cultural medium, but as mere decorator objects. I think this belief was created because they were not taught to appreciate art as children, either from parents (who probably weren’t taught it either) or exposed to the idea of art and music as cultural mediums enriching society in the local schools. Why don’t we teach the appreciation of arts and music to our young people here in our public schools? The dirty little secret is Money.

Despite numerous studies showing that students who are consistently exposed to and taught to appreciate art and music do better scholastically in Math and Science, Art and Music  subjects always get the short straw when it comes to allocating school funds. Art and Music are “soft” subjects and consequently hard to measure on tests. We do need both math and science in order to compete in a technological world. However, it is well established that in spite of spending more money per student than any other state, California students continue to fall behind not only national, but also world,averages and I believe that is due to poor emphasis on the subjects of art and music.

What do children learn from the arts? Well of course, the number one thing is creativity. Creativity doesn’t just mean you can draw, paint, or blow a horn. A creative thinker is a ‘MacGyver’. A creative thinker can be given a problem and come up with an independent solution that might not have been tried before. Children in the arts also learn to keep trying even if they are less than successful in the beginning, because they know they will get better. All they need to be able to do is focus in on their goal. Because they know they will get better, they learn to accept and value constructive criticism. Many art disciplines such as theatre and music require cooperation with other people, which teaches children that their actions affect others. This teaches accountability. I believe that until our schools are committed to giving our young people a well-rounded appreciation of art and music as well as math, science and sports, our graduating students are going to continue to fall further and further behind the national standard. Creativity teaches independent thinking and without independent thinkers, we have no future leaders, only little robots who can recite by rote the party line without once understanding or considering the consequences. What do youthink?

Now, of course if asked, county and State Schools administrations will agree, “There ought to be an art or a music class taught”. Nevertheless, this isn’t really happening and the classes that aretaught don’t really address the problem. A single class that lets students play around with band instruments won’t teach our children to appreciate different types of music and its contributions to our culture. Neither will a class allowing students to draw pictures, although both of the options are a good start in the right direction. Art and Music must be integratedinto all our subjects in order for our children to learn how valuable they really are. For instance, you can’t study Greek and Roman historical contributions without being exposed to their art and music as well. American history should include more than a paragraph mentioning Francis Scott Key’s National Anthem! A study of the American Revolution should include the contributions made by American artists in getting the message out to colonists. Many musical notes are based on mathematical formulas, but is this taught in math? Architectural structures, roads and bridges are part art, part geometry is this taught in geometry? I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point.

The best way to raise art awareness was to put art out in places where John and Mary Public can take their children to see it. In Fresno, do have an art event three times a month called Art Hop, where the public is encouraged to tour homegrown galleries, restaurants and businesses that hang art by local artists. Taking the bus tour once a month would be a wonderful opportunity to raise art awareness if we could persuade our local parents and schools to participate. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that except for a small percentage of the population John and Mary Pubic are too busy working non-stop or taking their children to sports activities and have very little time to take in local galleries. I believe this needs to be joint efforts by artists, parents and schools to help our young people do better scholastically by immersing them in Art and culture. I encourage you to take up the challenge in your community. It seems to me that the chief issue here is a generally held opinion that prominent artists are only found in certain regions. This is simply not true; while a Thomas Kincade or a Bev Doolittle may not live in your community, it would be wise to check out exactly who does. For instance, my area of Fresno, Clovis and the surrounding cities in the Central Valley are home to national and internationally known artists. We also have many very talented local artists. The big secret is no one knows it. So how do we as artists raise the social awareness of art in our communities?

 

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CRITIQUE

Published April 6, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

For many of us, giving our work over to an individual or a group to be analyzed is scary, but so much can be learned by having someone not intimately connected to you evaluate your work. An unavoidable truth in the art world is that all through your career all kinds of people are going to say all kinds of stuff about your art. Some of them will even tell you to your face. Others may write about it, post about it or gossip behind your back. An artist not only has to learn how to handle this nonstop blitz of feedback, comments, and criticisms, but also how to gage and respond to what is said, and most importantly, how to not take what is said personally. To get the most out of a critique, it is important to decide Before submitting your work to a critique, what you really hope to gain from it. This is where some honest personal soul-searching can be useful. Most of us always try very hard to create the very best art we can. We put the total sum of our skill into every painting or sculpture. Unfortunately, when we ask, “how do you like it” we do usually hope for an endorsement of our efforts instead of an evaluation of what is technically wrong. Evaluate the person doing the critique. An important determination you need to make about responses to your art is whether a comment is based on the individual’s personal tastes or is instead based more on their overall knowledge and understanding of the type of art you create.

Decide what you like about your painting before asking for criticism or reviewing a critique. The better you know what it is you like or dislike about your work beforereceiving criticism, the better you will be able to evaluate what is being said. Listen to what is said, make sure it applies, and then ask yourself: “would it be better changed, or do I like it just the way it is?” Don’t get defensive! Remember; a critique doesn’t have to become an argument to win the critic over to your side.

Seek the opinions of your peers whenever possible. The more respect you have for the critic, the easier it is to accept the evaluation by him or her. It helps also if you attempt to understand his or her biases. We all have them. Some of us are technical sticklers and others like to see the breaking of rules.

Don’t discredit positive feedback. Because we often feel guilty at accepting praise, It is often easier for us to accept negative criticism than praise.

Painting The Familiar

Published March 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

When selecting what to paint or write, we all have familiar subjects or places we return to time after time. For me, when paging through my reference photos to paint a landscape, I inevitably return to a scene with water because I find water movement visually interesting. Perhaps this is why I find my own still life paintings so uninspiring, although I do often admire those done by my friends.

When painting do you revisit a favorite subject many times? I know that I do, despite having heard critics ask, “Why does he/she always paint the same thing” about myself or other artists. I take issue with the idea that painting the familiar will mean you are creating a clone of a prior work since I believe that even if you are attempting to re-paint a scene or subject that you have painted in the past, the painting will be different. you are not the same person you were when you previously rendered this subject so why should your art be the same? it is true that as artists we have the need to stretch our boundaries by working with materials and subjects we are relatively unfamiliar with, our life experiences and what we have learned will shape our work even if we are painting a familiar subject. If you returned to the scene of a previous work and painted the same scene would it be the same?

In my experience, the 2nd painting never comes out the same as the 1stone. For one thing, I have learned new techniques, and grown in my artistic abilities. For instance, I did two paintings, “Hunting The Levee” in 2002 and “A Man And His Dogs” in 2003. Essentially they are the same scene, taken from a single reference photo. However, in the 2ndpainting, I felt much freer to play with the tableau and add and subtract elements from the photo. So yes, I feel that returning “to the scene of the crime” as it were can be valuable to an artist.

 

GAILS TIPS ON WORKING WITH ACRYLICS

Published August 6, 2018 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I have always painted in Acrylics. Over the years, I have attempted to use other mediums but they were a poor fit. Oils stink, are messy and take waytoo long to dry for me. Watercolors are too unforgiving for a ‘seat of the pants’ painter like myself and I usually ended up with something resembling a kindergartener’s finger painting. I don’t have the patience for colored pencils or graphite pencil. When I attempted charcoal and pastels, I usually ended up looking as if I’d been playing in the coal bin. Sometimes it was a colorful coal bin, but still—But like Goldilocks beds, Acrylics and I fit just right. I really don’t understand why some artists seem to have so much trouble with them. Over the years, the most common complaint I have heard about working in Acrylics is “it dries too fast”. No offense intended, but in my experience, this problem is caused by the artist’s unfamiliarity with the properties of the medium. There is a little bit of a learning curve and I understand that it’s hard to change your work pattern to adapt to acrylics. If you really want to give them a try and are willing to change your work pattern a little, I think you might be happy with Acrylic paint.

Some basic facts about Acrylics: 1–Drying times for Acrylics is actually comparable to Watercolors. 2–Acrylics, like watercolors, dry by evaporation. 3–One of the things that affect working with Acrylics has to do with the thickness of the paint an artist applies. The thinner the application of paint, the faster Acrylics will dry. QED. 4– If the artist applied a thick layer of paint, even though the paint may be dry to the touch on the surface, it may still be soft underneath for several hours. 5–Acrylics will dry darker than when first applied. 6—Mixing Acrylic paints ‘greys’ or darkens them. Acrylics straight out of the tube are always brighter than any color you mix together. This isn’t a terrible thing; I consider the difference to be negligible. If it’s important to you to retain that initial tube brightness, I suggest you use thin glazes instead of mixing directly, allowing the color underneath to bleed through. Acrylics master painter Jerome Grimmer uses a medium instead of water to overcome this issue.

Unlike Oil paints, Acrylics won’t wait days for you, but there are ways to slow down the drying time. The simplest way is to just refrigerate the painting. Yep, I said put it in the refrigerator for the night. Cold temperatures slow down the drying time of Acrylics. Of course, that probably isn’t practicable for most artists. Unless you are painting miniatures, I doubt you will have room for a painting in your refrigerator! If you live where the daily temperature is between 40oand 50oF you could stick it out on your unheated porch overnight.  However, your palettecan be sealed and kept in the refrigerator and your paint will stay workable for several days.

The next simplest way to slow down the drying time of Acrylics involves using water. I saw this technique demonstrated by TV artist Jerry Yarnell and it works great in the short run. Dip a large brush in your rinse water and brush it over the canvas until the canvas is thoroughly wet. You can smooth out any dripping runs with a damp brush. Using clean or dirty water is irrelevant; you are going to cover this up with paint in a few minutes anyway. This will keep the paint you apply workable longer. Remember a spray water bottle is your best friend when working with Acrylics (they still sell them in the laundry section of department stores–I just bought a new one). Periodically spray down your palette and the portions of your canvas you need to keep wet. If a drip occurs, blot it away with a paper towel.

There are also commercial mediums to slow down drying time. They work, but I personally didn’t like them. My paint seemed sticky afterwards, and it was difficult to judge when I could start working over the top of the painting I had used them on. I admit that issue probably has more to do with my own painting techniques than how well the medium worked. You see, I sketch up the painting, paint over the drawing so I can place background shadows and highlights where I want them, and then redraw the foreground objects, people or animals. To do this the paint needs to be dry, and hard enough to stand up to the pressure of my pencil or charcoal. Thickly applied Acrylic paint is soft enough that a hard pressure will leave an imprint even if the work is completely dry, so the “slow-dry” mediums just didn’t work for me.

 

While it’s true that not every medium will suit everyone, I suggest if you really want to learn to work with Acrylic paint, you take one of Grimmer’s or Yarnell’s workshops. Yarnell also has video series about painting that can be purchased from his website. http://www.yarnellschool.com/

Jerome has a video on YouTube about working with Acrylics that is free to watch. Jerome Grimmer Mixes Acrylics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaW3Gz5UMks

IS ART CENSORSHIP REAL?

Published July 30, 2018 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Do we apply a double standard in censoring Art? Is there a difference between a Rubens classical painting and Playboy? Most of us think so. Yet some of Ruben’s art is probably more graphic than a Playboy centerfold and his Rape of the Daughters certainly shows violence toward women. Nevertheless, most museums and libraries would have no hesitation in displaying it in a public venue. What then makes the old masters art different from artists who create in the here and now? Should paintings showing nudity, graphic violence like rape, sexual themes or nude statues be shown in a public setting such as a Library, Mall or even an art show at which children are welcomed?

Does it make a difference who is going to be looking at or reading controversial material? Yes, it does. Just as a person isn’t allowed to scream “fire!” in a crowded area for fear of causing panic, as a society we will always need to make judgments as to what is appropriate for our public libraries and other non-profits to display and spend their money on. And yes, in the past governments havebeen very heavy handed on what was considered appropriate.  On that subject, the right of Private adult individuals to decide what they will read and see must always be defended. The internet has virtually ensured that the freedom to view and read whatever we want will be protected; As long as it exists, artists and book publishers will be permitted to sell these items (in the appropriate venues), and I don’t think we need to be too worried about government imposed censorship.

Public galleries and non-profits have also felt the bite of censorship because of shrinking donations; private and for-profit galleries and bookstores are also under pressure not to carry controversial materials. A mom shopping with her 10 year old simply isn’t going to make a purchase in a gallery or art show that carries nudes because she isn’t likely to take her child into that gallery or to that art show in the first place.

As a visual artist who sets up art displays in public places, I am very aware of our American society’s standards of what is considered acceptable for public consumption. All societies have these standards of behavior and yes, the standards do evolve with society. 60 years ago, Tarzan of the Apes was considered too sexy for the libraries! What is acceptable in Europe is quite different than what is acceptable in America also. American standards are usually much more conservative than those prevalent in Europe. In this financially strapped time, Libraries and other non-profits and public venues are very dependent on donations. Let’s face it; donors are simply not going to come out and see or purchase art or books they don’t like and they won’t give money to organizations that support these things.

As to exactly why we think a painting over 100 years old is less controversial than one painted this year, well, all I can say is that history seems to cover a multitude of sins.

WHAT GENRE IS YOUR ART?

Published July 23, 2018 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

By the Practical Artist

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

I was always a little confused as to how certain types of art are placed into certain genres at art shows. For one thing, it seemed to be purely subjective, depending on each artist’s concept of what that Genre was, and some art didn’t seem to fit into any division at all! I did find a definition on the internet:  “Genre is the general classification of your image.” One of the best examples of saying nothing while seeming to say everything I’ve ever found! Most artists I know seem to classify their art first by the media used to create it and then by the subject matter. For instance, many artists will describe their work as a “watercolor landscape” or an “oil still life”. From the internet, I also got a list of what was considered genre classifications. In many cases, the definition of a Genre was very narrow. Obviously, not all images fit into the Genre categories and I found myself taking issue with the clearness of the description of some them as well, so I went looking for comparisons of the definitions and sure enough, everyone has a different opinion! Like many fields, the definition of a Genre seems to depend on which expert you consult. I also found about 30 different genres described, with many of them having sub-genres. For this blog, I will confine myself to the genres and sub-genres of interest in the one-dimensional Fine art shown at art shows: Abstract/non-objective, Botanical & Still Life, Contemporary, Drawing, Landscape, Portrait, Realism, and Representational.

Abstract/non-objective art seemed to be images, which did not reflect pictorial reality as opposed to Realism, which tries to show exactly what is seen. On About.com, I found this 1“In its purest form in Western art, an abstract art is one without a recognizable subject, one which doesn’t relate to anything external or try to “look like” something. Instead, the colour and form (and often the materials and support) are the subject of the abstract painting. It’s completely non-objective or non-representational.” I also found sub-genres in abstract art as well: geometric, figurative, etc. In other words, it did seem to me that anything they couldn’t find a Genre for at art shows got stuck here. Occasionally, I found this category confused with Contemporary art at art shows, which as I later discovered was not the same thing at all!

Botanical & Still Lifeis usually art about flowers and plants. However many different objects other than plants and flowers have been used in still life art. I placed Still Life with Botanical because so much still life art does use botanical subjects. Wikipedia defines botanical art as “the art of depicting the form, colour, and details of plant species, frequently in watercolourpaintings. Historically, these paintings were often printed with a botanical description in books, magazines, and other media. Art of this type required an understanding of plant biologyand access to specimens and references. These works were often composed in consultation with a scientific author.”3Currently, Photographs have replaced most botanical art in textbooks or other pharmacopoeia (medical textbook). The second most common subject matter found in Still Life is food and the third is the décor stuff my mother called “dust-catchers”. Still Life in art is all about lighting and composition; keeping a painting of inanimate objects interesting is much harder than it looks, and I have nothing but respect for those who paint this type of art successfully.

Contemporaryart was defined on the internet as “Artwork that has been produced employing techniques made popular after World War II”. This was interesting because it certainly didn’t agree with what I have seen in the “Contemporary” categories at art shows! In fact using this definition, most painting materials available are made using modern techniques all artwork painted by living artists could be considered contemporary. At art shows put on by local art groups, I have generally found art depicting abstracts, non-representational art, expressionism, etc., all in this category. It seems to me that oftentimes the subject matter was being used to define the category.

Drawingis defined as images created with conventional drawing materials – pen and ink, pencil, chalk, charcoal…  “Drawing is often exploratory, with considerable emphasis on observation. Drawing is regularly used in preparation for a painting, further confusing the distinction between drawing and painting. Drawings created for these purposes are called studies. There are several categories of drawing: figure drawing, cartooning, doodlingand shading(cartooning and doodling are not usually considered to be fine art). There are also many drawing methods, such as line drawing, stippling or shading. A quick, unrefined drawing may be called a sketch. In fields outside art, technical drawingsor plans of buildings, machinery, circuitry and other things are often called “drawings” even when they have been transferred to another medium by printing.”3 Upon review, I found that although drawing is often considered a Genre at art shows and competitions the internet doesn’t consider it a genre at all. According to Wikipedia “Drawingis a form of visual artthat makes use of any number of drawing tools to mark a two-dimensional medium. Tools can include graphitepencils, pen and ink, inkedbrushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, various kinds of erasers, markers, styluses, and metals (such as silverpoint). A small amount of material is put on a surface or support, leaving a visible mark. The most common support for drawing is paper, although other materials, cardboard, plastic, leather, canvas, and board, may be used. The readiness of drawing tools makes drawing more common than other art media. Drawing is one of the major forms within the visual arts. Old-style drawings were monochrome, or at least had little colour, while modern colored-pencil drawings may cross the boundary between drawing and painting. In Western vocabulary, drawing is distinct from painting, even though similar mediais often used in both. Dry media, normally associated with drawing, such as chalk may be used inpastelpaintings. Drawing may also be done with a liquid medium applied with brushes or pens (Chinese art). Similar supports can serve both: painting generally involves the application of liquid paint onto prepared canvas or panels, but sometimes an under-drawingis first drawn on that same support.”3 For the purpose of an art show, the Drawing category is often divided by medium, with Pastels most frequently considered a separate category all others lumped into “Graphics”.

Landscapeas a Genre was defined as images of landscapes, real or imaginary. This is a category where I wanted to place several “sub-genres”: Seascapes, Cityscapes, interior scenes, etc. I once asked a master artist her definition of a landscape and she told me “anything with a horizon”. Obviously, a street scene might or might not have a horizon line, but a painting of the inside of a house sure wouldn’t have a horizon although I suppose the floor line might be considered in the same definition. This raises another question: does a painting of say a group people on a city street come under the sub-genre cityscapes or portrait/figurative? And what about an indoor scene of a party or a scene in a restaurant that looks out the window to the landscape? Where does this go? Does a scene inside a house or other building come under landscape? If there are people in the scene, does it then become a portrait painting?

Portraitsare images that focus on the personality and representation of a person or animal. This is another category where I wanted to put sub-genres. Portrait implies a single subject, group or object for which that person(s) posed so the art could be created, even if it is a group being painted. Into what Genre then, does a group of people, who are incidental to the painting (there by happenstance) go? For instance into what genre would you place a painting of a street scene or a party or a family dinner where the subjects are imagined? Categorize this for me and put it in the proper Genre:imaginary people, imaginary house, imaginary scene of a modern family on Christmas morning (Mom and Dad in the kitchen making coffee or whatever, a young girl curled up in a chair with an I-Pod or phone, two teenage boys playing a video game on the wide-screen TV and grandparents coming in the kitchen door with packages). It’s not a portrait because the people aren’t real, yes or no?

Realism Artis artwork that focuses on portraying subjects and objects accurately, as they really are. Wikipedia defines this genre as “the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without changingitand avoiding artistic principles, implausible, exotic or supernatural elements.”3Another source, absolutearts.com, says, “Realism is defined by the accurate, unembellished, and detailed depiction of nature or contemporary life. The movement prefers an observation of physical appearance rather than imagination or idealization.” There isa type of art called Photorealism, defined as “the Genre of painting based on using cameras and photographs to gather visual information and then from this creating a painting that appears to be photographic.” I have most commonly seen this art done with either graphite or colored pencil and it allows for more detail. However, some master artists do not consider photorealism to be art at all since the image reproduced on paper or canvas is usually copied exactlyfrom a single photograph. However, I have also seen this done purely from imagination of the artist. If several photos are used as reference material and elements from them combined into a painting, then you have produced Representational art rather than Realism art.

Representational Art in the dictionarymeans to symbolize or to stand for. According to Wikipedia, all art is representational if it shows a recognizable object. “The degree to which an artistic representation resemblesthe object it represents is a function of resolution and does not bear on the denotation of the word. For example, both the Mona Lisaand a child’s crayon drawing of Lisa del Giocondowould be considered representational, and any preference for one over the other would need to be understood as a matter of preferences.”3So if you paint a landscape and leave out elements  that are actually in the scene, shift things around or add in things, to make the painting look better then you have created a piece of representational art. Humbling, isn’t it?

 

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