Thursday, July 19, 2012

Workshop video: making the perfect semi-gloss varnish for your oils

Being varnished:
"Golden Moment Against the Reds"
oil on canvas,  48 x 48 inches

Here is a foolproof method to varnish your oil paintings with a semi-gloss finish.  They will be ready for transport the next day and will be virtually odorless after drying.

Note that Ken is applying the varnish in his garage and they will dry there overnight and without the fumes in your home or studio.  There are more formal ways to do the final varnish to oil paintings, but since my oils are recently created, they are not ready for a final varnish, so I'm using retouch varnish here. The end result is a perfect, semi-gloss finish that is ready to hang in 24 hours.

Thank you, Forrest Moses for showing me this valuable technique.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Video: Gerhard Richter painting

click to view video: Gerhard Richter Painting

I just saw this documentary yesterday of Gerhard Richter, the very famous Cologne, Germany artist.  It was a very good look at the man, his latest methods and the inside game at the very highest levels of the art world.  I hope you get to see it.  Click on the link to see a preview from the full-length documentary film.

What you are seeing here is a very large squeegee loaded with green paint being drawn across this large canvas, completely remaking its appearance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Workshop video: Creating the oil Yellows Across the Lake, 40 x 40 inches

Here is a video of me creating an 40 x 40 inch oil on canvas from start to finish.  I'm narrating as I paint, describing my methods as the painting develops. I enjoyed the process of creating the oil and this video.  I hope you find it entertaining and educational.

"Yellows Across the Lake"
oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

Available at the Total Arts Gallery, Taos, NM. 

Credit: Hand-held iphone video by social networking expert Marianne Pestana and narration by the artist.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Workshop: Matisse makes a Big Move

Henri Matisse  "The Red Studio" 1911   Museum of Modern Art, NY

I've always wondered about this oil.  Did Matisse begin a painting with all of these objects painted normally in the room in only to find that he didn't like where the oil was going?  I recall an oil by Wolf Kahn of his barn in Vermont.  It wasn't working out to his liking, so he add a white variant over the entire painting.  It was a remarkable effect, rendering the entire painting in luminous shades of white - leaving the edges of the objects in relief.  Wolf made a bold move in order to 'save' or bring more life into a troubled painting.  The result was over the top.

So when I went to NY last month, I was glad to see this painting again in person.  It is possible that Matisse sketched this in (tables, chairs) and began to fully paint in a few of the objects (vase, plate, some framed works) before reversing ground and insisting on the overall red effect?  Did he plan the red oil the way we see it all along?  It is possible that Matisse got into a fix and scrambled for a better solution?

For this chest, Matisse outlined the object with yellow and green, with some pencil lines or grey paint.  In other places, there is pink oil and white canvas.  Did he begin to fully paint the chest or just outline it?  Was he blocking in the objects normally or is this evidence that he was planning to cover it in red from the start?

Interesting that you can see sketch lines but there is also work using the yellow again and traces of blue and purple. The yellow appears to be more that just an outline since it's visible under the red.  This yellow intrigues me.  Was he blocking in some of the objects in yellow and starting to add the blues and purples as well?  Was he beginning to fill in the furniture in a normal way using a few colors?

Who knows for sure what he was thinking and where the red comes in, but Matisse got to a point early in this work using a few spare colors and lines to get the painting blocked in without the red.

In this last close up, paint is added in places after the application of the red.  Matisse is now working on top of the red, bringing the oil to completion.

Looking at these close ups, I'd offer that once he got a fresh look at this large oil in the early stages (due to an interruption by an incoming email, no doubt) he began to analyse his options and decided for something more powerful than another interior scene.

Perhaps this composition was weak - lacking and needed more. Or it may be that the painting in progress was just fine, but once he got the idea of the red as an overall concept, the power of it would be too compelling to resist.

Matisse doesn't give any clues.  He said, "Where I got the color red - to be sure, I just don't know."

Nor do we.  At any rate, here is a powerful tool and strategy for making more engaging works. You can make bold moves to the point of possibly ruining your work, but the rewards are great if you handle the power of your Big Move.