Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blog Redesign

I am looking into the possibility of redesigning the blog and changing the layout to a better more modern look. This will happen in the coming week or two, if I can manage to learn what needs doing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to oil paint -- History of Art Technique

John Singer Sargent     Carnation Lily Lily Rose

The state of art today

Never before has there been such a range of materials from which an artist can choose. The modern painter is freer to choose what to paint than ever before, and creativity and originality is seen as the hallmark of genius in the painting world. However, there is a downside too, in that in the modern art world, the majority of artists painting today have little true knowledge of the skill and training passed down through generations by the painters of the 15th - 17th century, the old masters. The skills have been lost to the majority of artists, although fortunately not lost to all, and even though they have tried to be rediscovered, they are not taught widely and many successful artists are ignorant of how to paint with strong technical skill .
 
On the positive side, the move away from the old styles of painting (since 1700 onwards) have encouraged the discover of whole new ways of painting and many beautiful paintings and styles have emerged. This has brought a whole new appreciation of art in our society. So even a beginner artist can create a piece which will be well appreciated and contribute to the artistic world in their own style.
 
As I discover more about oil painting and reading about the old techniques, I realise I too have a very basic understanding of their techniques, and so I am on a journey to discover for myself what I lack in ability.

One thing I have discovered, is that many of the paintings from before 1700, are painted so technically well, that they are withstanding the ravages of time better than paintings that modern artists are creating, and that they could well outlast most of the paintings being created today. Will Jackson Pollocks paintings still be around in centuries to come on the wall beside an ageless Carravaggio or Van Eyck's The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini (1434, now 582 years old)? I sincerely doubt it. And so I believe it is important to try our best to understand our painting materials, more and more, in order to create our best work and ensure it has some durability too.

Friday, March 18, 2016

How to Oil Paint, Choosing colors for oil painting -- Part 4 of 4,

Van Eyck's The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini (1434)

How to Oil Paint, Choosing Colors for Oil Painting, Properties of Oil Paints...Drying Rate

Oil Paints unlike most other paints, change little as they dry in colour, but they do change slightly, becoming slightly darker and a little less brilliant. This is not really a noticeable change however.
So it is not really a concern to us as oil painters so much.

The rate at which the individual paints dry is important when you are building up a painting in layers. It is important to not paint fast drying paint layers over slow drying painting layers, until the slower drying layer is completely dry, in order to prevent the risk of problems occurring on the surface such as wrinkling or cracking of the paint in the future.

The very slow drying colours are titanium or zinc whites, ivory black, cadmium colours, vermillion and rose madder. Less slow drying but slow are ultramarine blue, cerulean blue and yellow ochre.

Colours with an average rate of drying are raw sienna, naples yellow, cobalt blue, chromium oxide (green), viridian, and earth red colours.

Fast drying colours are Prussian blue, raw umber, burnt umber, phthalocyanine blue, phthalocyanine green, flake white, burnt sienna and davy's gray.

So it can be seen that if you have a slow drying colour and you want to speed up it's drying rate, and you are also wanting to use a lighter shade, you can mix flake white instead of titanium white into the colour to quicken the drying rate. Alkyd mediums such as Liquin also help to speed up the drying process, although their primary purpose has been usually to make it easier for paint colours to flow under the brush.
 
If you like to see earlier parts of this article see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 for further properties of paint and choosing a palette for starting oil painting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How to Oil Paint, Choosing colors for oil painting -- Part 3 of 4

Photo I took last year on the way to work in Carlow, Ireland. A storm was on the way and I was driving when I saw this tree and had to stop.
 
Properties of Oil Paints -- Part 3
 
Depending on your style of painting, another property to consider is the transparency or opaqueness of each paint. Transparency is the degree to which a colour allows light to past through it from above, and allow this light to reflect back to your eye from the colour underneath. If you paint a transparent yellow over a blue paint, the eye will see a greenish colour. This is because the blue is covered by the yellow but is allowed to reflect light back through the transparent yellow to your eye. 
 
Paints like ultramarine blue or burnt sienna are transparent and make good paints for glazing. If you like to build up the paint in layers choose transparent colours. Adding white to a colour will reduce it's transparency.
 
Here is a list of transparent colours:
Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Phthalocyanine Blue, Phthalocyanine Green, Green Gold, Ultramarine Violet, Cobalt Violet, Rose Madder (not so light fast), Manganese Violet, Indian Yellow (not so light fast), Transparent Oxide Yellow, Transparent Oxide Brown, Ivory Black, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Oxide Red.
Here is a list of semi-transparent colours:
Cobalt Blue, Transparent Gold Ochre, Aureolin (not so light fast), Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber (some brands), Raw Sienna, Davy's Grey.
 
If your style of painting is to fill in large dense blocks of colour, you should consider working with more opaque (non-transparent) colours that cover areas well. Opacity is also called covering power, the power to block out an underlying colour.
 
Here is a list of semi-opaque colours:
Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Greenish Umber, Vermilion, Burnt Umber (some brands), Deep Ochre, Gold Ochre, Burnt Green Earth.
Here is a list of opaque colours:
Flake White, Titanium white, Naples Yellow, Mars Yellow, Mars Orange, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Mars Red, Mars Violet, Mars Brown, Venetian Red,
Indian Red, Light Red, Brown Ochre, Terra Rosa, Red Ochre, Chromium Oxide Green, Cerulean Blue, Mars Black.
 
I hope this helps those beginning to paint out there, stop back another time to see more information on choosing paints, in part 4 in next few days. Also check out part 1 , part 2 and part 4 of this article.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Oil Paint, Choosing colors for oil painting -- Part 2 of 4

 
Art Instruction, Choosing Colors for Oil Painting -- Part 2 Paint Properties 

Many art colleges and universities have over the last years especially, focused their attention when instructing art students, on encouraging the students to work primarily on their creativity and to "express themselves". However this has meant that the actual materials they should use to express this creativity have often been overlooked.

As you progress your journey in becoming an oil painter, you may like / should try to learn a little about the various different properties that individual paint colours possess. Apart from the obvious properties to consider such as hue, value and colour, there are properties such as transparency, opaqueness, oil content, type of oil, pigment content and light-fastness of the paint colour. Also how fast they dry, their tinting strength and their consistency. Then there are factors of compatibility with other pigments. Lastly, and important too, some paints contain lead and care needs to be taken in working with such paints. Different manufacturers will mean the same colour could be slightly different from brand to brand also.

The most important property of a paint colour is it's light-fastness.

Colours fade when their molecules are broken down when exposed to the power of light, the shorter the wavelength the more the power the light will have. So UV light packs a punch. Some pigments are better at withstanding this attack. Iron Oxide colours and heavy metal colours, such as cadmium or cobalt can withstand UV light.

If you want to protect your artwork from fading, then it is best to choose colours with good light fastness properties and avoid displaying the painting in direct sunlight. This means - how likely is the paint to fade in colour over time. Quite a bad feeling if you see your beautiful portrait of a loved one fading into obscurity after a few seasons on the wall....So what should you do?
Look to buy paints with an ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) rating of I (very light fast) or II (lightfast enough to use for painting).
If you use ratings III, IV or V then the colours will change in time and may fade completely. Alizarin Crimson is one of the paints that is best avoided as it is not light fast. A good alternative is Permanent Rose, also called Quinacridone Rose or Rose Lake. It is PV19.
Different brands have different notation. Winsor & Newton use A (permanent), AA (extremely permanent), and also the above I,II,III system too sometimes. Daler & Rowney Georgian brand use Permanence followed by *** symbols. Three stars is fine and four is best.

The next quality perhaps to consider is the quality, or pigment content of the paints.

Depending on the brand, most paints come in two grades, artists and students. Artists grade paints are made with the higher amount of pigment content and less extenders, and they produce stronger more vibrant levels of colour. They also cost a lot more in some cases! If you are starting out, it might be worth while to buy the student grades for now. The difference is not so noticeable, I have found, although the fact that paints can last a lifetime depending on your rate of working, and use of a colour, perhaps the better investment is to go for the more expensive brand when you can afford it. I use the best I can afford when I am doing commission work or work for sale.

For more tips about properties see part 1 , part 3 and part 4 of this article.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to Oil Paint, Choosing colors for oil painting -- Part 1 of 4

Choosing what colours to include in your oil paint palette is individual to every artist, and depends on their style and their subject matter, but this post is just a brief look at some of the choices that are out there.
If you are good at mixing colours and want to travel light, then you can actually get away with around four or five colours. Yes hard to believe, but that is all you need if you have the skills to mix the colours correctly. Of course adding five or ten more adds to the expense of getting started but can make painting much easier, avoiding the task of trying to get that shade you want but can't quite figure it out.
The above photo shows four colours -- a very basic set, titanium white, French ultramarine, cadmium yellow and cadmium red. From these four, travelling light, you can mix all the shades necessary for to paint any skin tone, and paint portraits.
The photo next, shows pretty much all the colours most people will ever need, if they are reasonably good at mixing colours. They are as follows: Titanium white, Yellow Ochre Pale Hue, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta, Permanent Mauve, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Viridian, Venetian Red, Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna.
And a few additional colours that sometimes I use to save time.... Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue (which is a lemon yellow), Naples yellow (a nice yellow for dusty desert scenes), Manganese Blue, Prussian Blue, Indigo, Oxide of Chromium ( a useful natural green), Indian Red (useful for skin tone when combined with white), Burnt Umber, and Paynes Grey.
Although some people like to include black, I have not included it here as I rarely need such a dark colour, and many nicer dark almost blacks can be mixed using other colours.
Anyway these are my suggested colour range if you are starting out, and can't decide what colours to buy. You can buy a few ( four), seventeen or all twenty-six if you feel like splashing out, but maybe best to start with just a few until you see how much you like painting....
 
See part 2 , part 3 and part 4 of this article for more information on choosing paints.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sardinia Cove Painting -- Quick Update

This is just a quick post to show my progress on my Sardinia painting underpainting and next layer -- still at a rough stage of filling in the main colours. The photo is a bit not true to the colours as it is indoors under artificial light. Today I used cadmium orange mixed with some venetian red as the red undercoat, with added ultramarine for darker parts. The sky is a mix of cerulean blue and ultramarine blue, with some titanium white added  for the lighter parts. The mauve undercoat helps a bit I think to add resonance. I will build up in layers to the lighter colours in the end. For the green sections, a mix of the cerulean, ultramarine and cadmium yellow is used. This is just a darker layer for starters. I will work on the shading and lighter detail as I progress. I will post further updates as I progress....

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sardinia Cove Painting -- Painting an initial undercoat to an Oil Painting

Today I managed to fit in an hour or two of painting and this is the result. I under painted the Sardinia Cove initial sketch with a pale mauve sky and then I painted the sea with a darker mix of the same by adding cerulean blue to the initial mix of permanent mauve and titanium white. The land surrounding is darker still by just intensifying the cerulean and mauve levels in the mix and so this is the finished underpainting. This is a bit of an experimentation. The aim is to give the final painting colours more resonance from the effect of the under colour interaction with the top layers.
 
Below is the first layout of the sketch on canvas.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Finding a subject to paint

Sardinia Cove Sketch
Gathering reference material and thinking about ideas for the next painting is something most artists are doing all the time to a greater or lesser degree. It's the only way to avoid the dreaded staring at a blank canvas and wondering what to paint! Anyone who has tried painting has sat there doing that at one stage or another. It's the artist's equivalent of writer's block.
That's probably why painting outdoors is so popular in warm countries, as there is always something worth painting, just take a stroll around and it doesn't take long to settle on something worthwhile.

So I have been thinking about my next painting now...and I am going to try a painting based on a sketch I made in Sardinia...actually I didn't sketch it at the time I saw it, as I was on a sailing boat trip. It was midday and we were anchored in a small inlet with one or two other yachts nearby. From there I swam to a nearby rock about 30 yards away, climbed out, put on my runners, which I had floated to shore on a small float board, and climbed up a hill through a series of rocks to look down on the boat. I sat high up there about 200ft or more above the cove. The sun was high and all the water shone a sparkling blue like you see in the Carribean. It was a perfectly tranquil day, with the blue haze of distant land on the horizon, and I tried hard to memorise the scene, the warmth and glow of the water, the sky and the rocks and the shapes of everything. The position of the boats and the cove itself. So here is the sketch I made after, and hopefully I can create something special which will bring me back to that moment.

I really love all those Mediterranean places, like Sardinia and Italy and want to paint more...so now that I am starting back into painting after quite a while of absence, I have a subject that I think I will really enjoy.

I hope to progress the painting over the following weeks and post it here as I don't get so much time for painting at present, so check back for to see posts of my progress.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Gormleys Opening Night New Gallery in Dublin and my VIDA Collection

Today I visited Gormley's New Art Gallery Official Opening in South Frederick Street just around the corner from Grafton Street in Dublin. I enjoyed the opening, with canapes and wine. The paintings on display were very nice, a mixture of landscapes and figurative works, and there is a beautiful space out the back which is a small gravelled area displaying several large sculptures. Downstairs is a large room and anteroom displaying more art. The layout of the new gallery is very attractive and has a feeling of openness and space.

Above is a screenshot of my new collection of designs from VIDA which are available to purchase at the following link: http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/jim-shanahan All of the clothing is not available in shops only through VIDA. So this is a chance to purchase a unique item which has not been mass produced.

I shall be adding more designs in the coming while. Enjoy...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Visit VIDA to buy and wear my art designs!!

Hi, Just a short update to say I will be selling designs created from my art at VIDA. See the link below. I have selected a few designs initially and I will be adding more designs over time. The designs are from art that I have created or photos that I have taken. The clothing items vary from scarfs to sleeveless tops and are all beautifully designed. Enjoy and buy if you like!!

http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/jim-shanahan

 
Art to wear, beautiful art designs on clothes, visit my collection at VIDA to wear beautiful flower designs on scarfs and tops.