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USING CELEBRITIES AS ART SUBJECTS

Published September 30, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Have you ever been tempted to include a celebrity portrait in your art portfolio? Say you are entering a theme show and there is a celebrity whose very image just screams “I am this theme”i.e. General Patton or Pappy Boynton for WWII, Clint Eastwood or John Wayne for western art, Mohammed Ali, or an Olympic swim star for a sports theme, etc.? Well if you do use a celebrity without gaining the proper permissions, you could be sued for copyright violations under something called “the right of publicity” laws.

I became curious about this when a young artist used a drawing of a western icon as an entry in a local art show. I remembered reading about the case of a company being sued when they used President Obama’s image advertising a product on their billboard. I did some on-line investigating and found some interesting information. I discovered that public figures could actually copyright their image under some state copyright laws. This was especially informative to me because I had always thought that copyright was a federal law, not a state one. In my research, I discovered that both are true. In other words, you have federal copyright laws and the states can make additions to these laws that could affect us as visual artists. Copyright law may also vary from Country to Country.

What exactly arethe rights copyright concerning publicity laws in regards to public figures? Public figures include politicians, celebrities, and any other person who has put themselves in the public spotlight or has greater than normal access to the media.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_rights, defines these laws, as “The right of publicity, often called personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one’s identity. It is generally considered a property right as opposed to a personal right, and as such, the validity of the Right of Publicity can survive the death of the individual (to varying degrees depending on the jurisdiction). In the United States, the Right of Publicity is a state lawbased right, as opposed to federal based right, and recognition of the right can vary from state to state. The Celebrities Rights Actwas passed in Californiain 1985 and it extended the personality rights for a celebrity to 70 years after their death.” There are other portions of California’s privacy laws to protect non-celebrity individuals but they not the subject of this blog and may be covered later.

Further reading tells me that even if your artistic source matter is a photograph taken by youof the celebrity or public figure in question, you might still be liable for violation of the right of publicity act if you invaded the privacy of the person in question to obtain the reference photo. An individual’s right of privacy or publicity is infringed when their name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness appears in a work of art and (a) can clearly be recognized as the subject shown in the work, (2) the subject has not consented to their image being used, and (3) the circumstances under which the photo was taken fit one of the following scenarios. Invading the subject’s privacy by encroaching into their private affairs. This covers events occurring in private or semi-private places: i.e. someone’s home or an invitation only event.Invading the subject’s privacy by the public disclosure of embarrassing facts not generally known. For instance if you take a photograph of a celebrity and then use the photo to paint them in the nude, or publish a photo of them embracing someone not their spouse this might be construed as being invasion of privacy. Invading the subject’s privacy by commercial appropriation. Using President Obama’s image to sell a product on the billboard was a clear example of this type of invasion.

Now I am not a lawyer, but common sense tells me why take the chance? Even if you win, a lawsuit is expensive and time-wasting and just being dragged into court over something like this could damage your reputation as an artist. If you would like more information on this subject, there are several good sites on the internet.

 

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-i-sell-my-own-artwork-depicting-a-celebrity–435063.html

This is a Case out of New York State concerning a sculpture using Cheryl Teigs legs in a sculpture. Recent verdicts expand artists’ rights in celebritydepiction …

http://www.owe.com/resources/legalities/7-issues-regarding-use-someones-likeness/

 

 

 

TIPS FOR SHIPPING ORIGINAL PAINTINGS OR PHOTOGRAPHS

Published September 9, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Congratulations! You sold some art from your web site! Now you must figure out how to get it to your buyer. Unless you are hand delivering your work, you will need to ship it to the buyer. To reach your buyer in a condition that does credit to you as an artist there is a real need to select both your shipping method and your packing container carefully. For packing you are going to need a lot of tape, foam core board, acid-free paper, acid-free plastic bags and foam peanuts. To pack paintings for photographs, first, wrap the art with acid-free paper and tape it together so it doesn’t move. What is acid free paper and why do you need it? Acid-free paper has a pH factor of seven or above. The pH scale is a standard for measuring the acidity or alkalinity of all kinds of products, including paper. Before 1860, paper was usually made of rag or cloth stock and high-end expensive stationary is still made this way. After 1860, paper mills began using ground up wood and mixing it with acids and bleach to save costs, all of which have a low pH factor and react with air and water to produce acidic composites. Why use acid free paper? The acidic compounds found in non-acid free paper can migrate to your art and cause decay and damage. In the short time it now takes to ship to your buyer acidic compounds probably won’t cause much damage; however, they may still leave a residue on your work that can cause it to deteriorate over time especially if your buyer doesn’t clean the work immediately after it arrives.

If the art is unframed canvas or sheet paper, you will need to make sure that it isn’t bent or folded by rough handling during shipping. In 2012, Popular Mechanics conducted an experiment to see how packages were  handled by Fed-Ex, UPS and the Postal Service. According to their published results, the package was dropped around three times and flipped an average of seven times per trip. Putting “Fragile” or “This End Up” did NOT increase the care handling the package got; in fact messages like this seemed to make no difference at all. Not that most of these delivery people will be deliberately be careless, but then there wasthat internet video of one of them tossing a flat screen TV over a fence when he couldn’t open the gate… How do you avoid this happening to your expensive art? After wrapping your work in the acid-free paper mentioned above, add a tough, lightweight reinforcement to help prevent bending (extra thick cardboard or foam core works) on each side of the art. Then slip artwork in an acid-free plastic bag to help make it water resistant, and wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap and tape so it won’t move. Why do you need to use an acid-free bag when you are already using acid free paper? When the plastic bag touches your acid-free paper, acid migration can still occur. Acid migration is what happens when acid from one object touches another. Acid migration is particularly dangerous to photographs. Chances are the acid-free paper you bought can still be contaminated by non-acid free plastic because the paper doesn’t have a seal. The acid free bag will seal off the art from contamination by the rest of the packing materials and help prevent water damage. Next, make sure you fill the entire packing container with shipping peanuts or bubble wrap so there is no extra space.

Should You Ship Art With A Frame?Personally, I don’t ship framed art unless it is for a show; and I avoid shipping anyart that is under glass, because if the package is damaged during shipping, the frame itself  could survive  unbroken yet your art could be ruined by broken glass sliding around and cutting or scratching it. If you mustship framed art, then protect the corners with edge guards and substitute plexi for glass. If the buyer wants glass, request that they take it to a framer in their area and get it changed. The other solution would be to ship to a local framer in the buyer’s area and arrange for the buyer to pick up the art after it has been framed.

Since the above study by Popular Mechanics didn’t find much difference in handling packages with the three most popular shipping companies, you need to decide to whether use them or employ a company that specializes in shipping art, which could be expensive. However, if you are willing to pay for it, the specialty company may even pack your art for you.

What About Shipping Insurance?Whatever shipping method you use, I  recommend insuring your package and including shipping confirmation. I highly advocate you ensure your art for the full price in case you must refund the money to the buyer if it doesn’t arrive intact. A high-value insurance cost does usually ensure that the shipping company will take more care of your work because they don’t want to pay damages.

Tracking The Package.If you are shipping inside the U.S., then you should always get shipping confirmation. Unfortunately, I did discover when I shipped a painting to a buyer in Canada that I could only track it as far as the border, so I don’t recommend paying extra for confirmation if you are shipping out of the U.S. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/301/~/mail—tracking-lost-or-missing-packages, CBP doesn’t have the abilityto track packages across the border. Occasionally a border station will hold a package for another government agency but we regular folks are just SOL. That painting I shipped across the border into Canada? The cost of shipping was almost as much as the buyer paid for it!

Speaking for myself, I now include a note on my website that I don’t ship originals out of the U.S. due to the high costs.

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?

 

CREATING AN ART CULTURE IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Published August 19, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Do you live in a community that supports the arts? The sad fact is that art-wise, not all communities are created equal. In California for instance the Bay and Central Coastal areas are a lot more “arty” than the Central Valley. I live in one of these “art challenged” areas of California and for many years I listened to my fellow artists whine (yes, I said whine!) about needing to travel to the coast to find buyers for their work. It is true that there are very few galleries catering to local artists here in Fresno and Clovis. All the galleries here only show art by dead masters or don’t open their doors to local artists (Fresno Art Museum) or they are privately owned by one artist or by co-op groups of artists. These galleries do an excellent job of helping to create a local art culture, but most of them are full.

Since moving to the coast wasn’t an option (my husband’s pool service business is located in Fresno), I decided to become proactive about the situation. I decided I needed another option to show my art.

It seemed to me that the chief issue was the general opinion apparently held by the public that my community didn’t have prominent artists. This is simply not true; while a Thomas Kincade or a Bev Doolittle doesn’t live here, 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? After some consideration, I realized that the best way to raise art awareness was to put art out in places where John and Mary Public would see it. We do have a monthly art event here called Art Hop, where the public is encouraged to tour as many galleries, restaurants and businesses who show art. This would be a wonderful opportunity to raise art awareness if we could persuade our local 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. They will however, take their children to the library. If art is displayed in that library, it gives parents and children the opportunity to recognize and see the local art culture. Historically, libraries have always been centers of the arts and culture for society. Artists who support this by displaying their art in the library are doing a great service to the community. Even though artists might not make many sales displaying art in the libraries, our contributions to the art and culture of the area is immense. When we put our art in the library, we not only remind the public what talented, creative artists live here, but how much we care about the community as a whole. One of the things artists contribute to our community as is culture. By displaying our stuff in the libraries, we bring art to life for the general public. Although it is not directly about sales, one of the ways that we artists in Fresno and Clovis convince the buying public how wonderful is our art and photography (and indirectly to buy that art) is the development of a reputation for being a center of art and culture. Sometimes we have to give before we can get.

 

COMMON AUDIT ISSUES FOR ARTISTS & GALLERIES

Published August 12, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

By the Practical Artist

Information for this blog was taken from REG 121584-05 page 523 http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=254019,00.html– 77.3KB

 

Probably the one agency that terrifies Americans the most is not the NSA, but the IRS and being audited by the IRS ranks up there with being on some mobster’s hit list. The best way to avoid being audited is to know what items will considered red flags by the IRS. The following are a few audit issues looked at by the IRS that may be found in the examination of an art gallery or home studio.

Unreported income through cashed checks from galleries to the artists leading to related returns to be examined;

Barter transactions between artists and others in the art field;

Taxability and inventory assessment issues for trades between gallery owners and artists;

Avoidance of state sales taxes;

Treatment of ordinary income as capital gains by mischaracterizing inventory as investments;

Identification of sources who failed to file/report transactions through “cost of goods sold” by studying cancelled checks and payment/transaction records;

Framing costs not properly recorded;

A History of losses or very high travel and entertainment costs with low gross receipts suggesting potential Activity Not Engaged in for Profit pursuant to I.R.C. § 183;

Sales of artwork disguised as “loans” secured by art as collateral and possible “money laundering”;

Other “financial status” indicators which show an artist’s or gallery owner’s reported income is incompatible to his or her lifestyle;

Potential issue on Non Resident Alien Artist, Art Galleries, Dealers and Brokers (International Referral Required);

Artwork being deducted as a charitable contribution at fair market value rather than adjusted cost basis and/or not being taken out of cost of sales;

Business use of the home.

If the gallery purchases its inventory, there should be a very detailed inventory listing showing the purchase date, the purchase price, any restoration and framing costs, the sales date, and price.

If the gallery sells on consignment, there will be a system in place to track consigned items. This system will generally contain the artist’s name, his or her address, a description of artwork, the date on which the artwork was received by the gallery, the asking price by the artist, and any other specific terms. It also indicates the date the piece was sold, the sales price, and terms of the sale.

The sales invoice for an art piece needs to  display the buyer’s name, address, date of sale, amount paid (if not fully paid), terms of any installment plan, sales tax, shipping charges, and framing charges if it is the type of artwork that would require framing.

Since artists are not offering a service, galleries are not required to complete a Form 1099 for the payments made. However, artists should receive a consignment check either monthly, at the time of sale, or at a time specified in an agreement between the artist and the gallery.

The best way to keep issues like those above from impacting your career as an artist is to keep good records for your home studio/gallery. If you sell your art, it is considered income and over a certain amount, it must be reported as such to the IRS on your federal taxes. If you participate in a booth event, you are usually required to have a seller’s permit, collect sales tax, and then report and pay that sales tax to the State.  Art is a business as well as a creative endeavor. Losing your art can be a financial loss. Not being aware of losing money because you don’t keep track of costs can create a huge problem.

Hey, relax; this isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Let’s take this one step at a time, using one piece of work. Step one: decide in what form you are going to keep your work log.While it is very helpful to have this information stored on a computer, artists were tracking their work using paper files long before computers became popular. I personally prefer using a computer worksheet, however, all of this stuff can be put on a sheet of paper and kept in a binder. For the initial record, I recommend a single sheet or worksheet per art piece. (Please see the Art Information Sheet in the Sample section)

ITEM 1—a pictorial image of your work. This can be in the form a printed photograph, a slide or a digital image. If your work is 3-deminsional, be sure to take photos of all sides of the work. Since this image is not going to be used to reproduce the work, a small, low-resolution image will suffice. The image should be large enough to see details of the work, clear and without blurring.

ITEM 2—the title of your work, size, style/genre and when it was finished.

ITEM 3—a brief description of the work (use complete sentences—why will become clear later). Optional—I also like to keep a kind of diary as to what I wanted to achieve, why I chose this image, and what was going on in my life when I created this art piece.

ITEM 4—Keywords to be used when downloading the photo of your art to your web site or other internet media.

ITEM 5—Show and exhibit record is a list of what shows or exhibits were entered, when they took place and if the art won awards.

ITEM 6—wholesale and Retail price. This is probably the hardest thing for an artist to decide on—how much to charge for an artwork! What is the difference between Wholesale and Retail? Wholesale is always lower than Retail. Your wholesale price at a minimum should cover the cost of what it cost you to create the art, plus any gallery commission fees and hopefully with a small profit margin. Retail price for an art piece should cover all this plus what you as an artist feel the art is worth. I realize this is very subjective but most of art issubjective.

ITEM 7—Incidental information such as the date you formally copyrighted the work, cost of the copyright, etc. More about copyrights later in the Copyright section.

ITEM 8—If you had limited editions of a painting or photograph or copies of a sculpture made, when, how many , how much it cost to make them, how many sold and how much you made when you did.

ITEM 9—the date you sold the original art and the name and address of the Buyer.

Learn More

What is Oil Painting?

Published March 13, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments with a medium of drying oil as the binder. Commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, poppy seed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. The choice of oil imparts a range of properties to the oil paint, such as the amount of yellowing or drying time. Certain differences, depending on the oil, are also visible in the sheen of the paints. An artist might use several different oils in the same painting depending on specific pigments and effects desired. The paints themselves also develop a particular consistency depending on the medium. The oil may be boiled with a resin, such as pine resin or frankincense, to create a varnish prized for its body and gloss.

Although oil paint was first used for Buddhist paintings by Indian and Chinese painters in western Afghanistan sometime between the fifth and tenth centuries,[1] it did not gain popularity until the 15th century. Its practice may have migrated westward during the Middle Ages. Oil paint eventually became the principal medium used for creating artworks as its advantages became widely known. The transition began with Early Netherlandish painting in Northern Europe, and by the height of the Renaissance oil painting techniques had almost completely replaced the use of tempera paints in the majority of Europe.

In recent years, water miscible oil paint has come to prominence and, to some extent, replaced traditional oil paint. Water-soluble paints contain an emulsifier that allows them to be thinned with water rather than paint thinner, and allows very fast drying times (1–3 days) when compared with traditional oils (1–3 weeks)

Traditional oil painting techniques often begin with the artist sketching the subject onto the canvas with charcoal or thinned paint. Oil paint is usually mixed with linseed oil, artist grade mineral spirits, or other solvents to make the paint thinner, faster or slower-drying. (Because these solvents thin the oil in the paint, they can also be used to clean paint brushes.) A basic rule of oil paint application is ‘fat over lean‘. This means that each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. If each additional layer contains less oil, the final painting will crack and peel. This rule does not ensure permanence; it is the quality and type of oil that leads to a strong and stable paint film. There are many other media that can be used with the oil, including cold wax, resins, and varnishes. These additional media can aid the painter in adjusting the translucency of the paint, the sheen of the paint, the density or ‘body’ of the paint, and the ability of the paint to hold or conceal the brushstroke. These aspects of the paint are closely related to the expressive capacity of oil paint.

Traditionally, paint was transferred to the painting surface using paintbrushes, but there are other methods, including using palette knives and rags. Oil paint remains wet longer than many other types of artists’ materials, enabling the artist to change the color, texture or form of the figure. At times, the painter might even remove an entire layer of paint and begin anew. This can be done with a rag and some turpentine for a time while the paint is wet, but after a while the hardened layer must be scraped. Oil paint dries by oxidation, not evaporation, and is usually dry to the touch within a span of two weeks (some colors dry within days). It is generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year. Art conservators do not consider an oil painting completely dry until it is 60 to 80 years old.[citation needed]

History

lthough the history of tempera (pigment mixed with either egg whites or egg yolks, then painted on a plastered section) and related media in Europe indicates that oil painting was discovered there independently, there is evidence that oil painting was used earlier in Afghanistan.[2][3][4][5] Outdoor surfaces and surfaces like shields—both those used in tournaments and those hung as decorations—were more durable when painted in oil-based media than when painted in the traditional tempera paints.

Most Renaissance sources, in particular Vasari, credited northern European painters of the 15th century, and Jan van Eyck in particular, with the “invention” of painting with oil media on wood panel supports (“support” is the technical term for the underlying backing of a painting). However, Theophilus (Roger of Helmarshausen?) clearly gives instructions for oil-based painting in his treatise, On Various Arts, written in 1125. At this period, it was probably used for painting sculptures, carvings and wood fittings, perhaps especially for outdoor use. However, early Netherlandish painting in the 15th century was the first to make oil the usual painting medium, and explore the use of layers and glazes, followed by the rest of Northern Europe, and only then Italy.

Early works were still panel paintings on wood, but around the end of the 15th century canvas became more popular as the support, as it was cheaper, easier to transport, allowed larger works, and did not require complicated preliminary layers of gesso (a fine type of plaster). (This style was known as a fresco painting: applying gesso, then painting over with tempera paint) Venice, where sail-canvas was easily available, was a leader in the move to canvas. Small cabinet paintings were also made on metal, especially copper plates. These supports were more expensive but very firm, allowing intricately fine detail. Often printing plates from printmaking were reused for this purpose. The popularity of oil spread through Italy from the North, starting in Venice in the late 15th century. By 1540, the previous method for painting on panel (tempera) had become all but extinct, although Italians continued to use fresco for wall paintings, which was less successful and durable in damper northern climates.

Brands of oil paint include: Winsor and Newton, Gamblin, Rembrandt, Lukas 1862, Lukas Studio, Old Holland, Michael Harding and Charvin. It is important that artists understand that not all oil colors are created equal. Many “student” brands on the market are really “hobby colors”. Water-soluble oil colors include: Winsor and Newton Artisan, Lukas Berlin and Woil water mixable oil colors.

Process

A traditional wood palette used to hold and mix small amounts of paint while working.

Oil paint is made by mixing pigments of colors with an oil medium. Different colors are made, or purchased premixed, before painting begins, but further shades of color are usually obtained by mixing small quantities together as the painting process is underway. An artist’s palette, traditionally a thin wood board held in the hand, is used for holding and mixing paints of different colors. Pigments may be any number of natural or synthetic substances with color, such as sulphur for yellow or cobalt for blue. Traditional pigments were based on minerals or plants, but many have proven unstable over long periods of time; the appearance of many old paintings today is very different from the original. Modern pigments often use synthetic chemicals. The pigment is mixed with oil, usually linseed, but other oils may be used. The various oils dry differently, which creates assorted effects.

Traditionally, artists mixed their own paints from raw pigments that they often ground themselves and medium. This made portability difficult and kept most painting activities confined to the studio. This changed in the 1800s, when tubes of oil paint became widely available following the American portrait painter John Goffe Rand‘s invention of the squeezable or collapsible metal tube in 1841 (the year of Claude Monet‘s birth). Artists could mix colors quickly and easily, which enabled, for the first time, relatively convenient plein air painting (a common approach in French Impressionism).

A brush is most commonly employed by the artist to apply the paint, often over a sketched outline of their subject (which could be in another medium). Brushes are made from a variety of fibers to create different effects. For example, brushes made with hog bristle might be used for bolder strokes and impasto textures. Fitch hair and mongoose hair brushes are fine and smooth, and thus answer well for portraits and detail work. Even more expensive are red sable brushes (weasel hair). The finest quality brushes are called “kolinsky sable“; these brush fibers are taken from the tail of the Siberian weasel. This hair keeps a superfine point, has smooth handling, and good memory (it returns to its original point when lifted off the canvas), known to artists as a brush’s “snap.” Floppy fibers with no snap, such as squirrel hair, are generally not used by oil painters.

In the past few decades, many synthetic brushes have been marketed. These are very durable and can be quite good, as well as cost efficient. Brushes come in many sizes and are used for different purposes. The type of brush also makes a difference. For example, a “round” is a pointed brush used for detail work. “Flat” brushes are used to apply broad swaths of color. “Bright” is a flat brush with shorter brush hairs. “Filbert” is a flat brush with rounded corners. “Egbert” is a very long, and rare, filbert brush. The artist might also apply paint with a palette knife, which is a flat metal blade. A palette knife may also be used to remove paint from the canvas when necessary. A variety of unconventional tools, such as rags, sponges, and cotton swabs, may be used to apply or remove paint. Some artists even paint with their fingers.

Most oil painters paint in layers known as “glazes”, a method also simply called “indirect painting”. This method was first perfected through an adaptation of the egg tempera painting technique, and was applied by the Flemish painters in Northern Europe with pigments ground in linseed oil. More recently, this approach has been called the “mixed technique” or “mixed method”. The first coat (the underpainting) is laid down, often painted with egg tempera or turpentine-thinned paint. This layer helps to “tone” the canvas and to cover the white of the gesso. Many artists use this layer to sketch out the composition. This first layer can be adjusted before proceeding further, an advantage over the “cartooning” method used in Fresco technique. After this layer dries, the artist might then proceed by painting a “mosaic” of color swatches, working from darkest to lightest. The borders of the colors are blended together when the “mosaic” is completed, and then left to dry before applying details.

Artists in later periods, such as the Impressionist era (late 19th century), often expanded on this wet-on-wet method, blending the wet paint on the canvas without following the Renaissance-era approach of layering and glazing. This method is also called “alla prima“. This method was created due to the advent of painting outdoors, instead of inside a studio, because while outside, an artist did not have the time to let each layer of paint dry before adding a new layer. Several contemporary artists use a combination of both techniques to add bold color (wet-on-wet) and obtain the depth of layers through glazing.

When the image is finished and has dried for up to a year, an artist often seals the work with a layer of varnish that is typically made from dammar gum crystals dissolved in turpentine. Such varnishes can be removed without disturbing the oil painting itself, to enable cleaning and conservation. Some contemporary artists decide not to varnish their work, preferring the surface unvarnished.

 

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