Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Coast Guard Cutter Print

 "USCGC Blackfin"
16"x20" pen & ink

Years ago I made a pen & ink drawing of a Coast Guard cutter. The drawing is done using the stippling technique...a pen & ink technique where the drawing is composed of just dots of ink...there are no straight lines....just dots. I use Koh In Noor rapidographs to do this. Rapidographs are mechanical pens that have a steel wire in the barrel that allows only one drop of ink to come out each time you press down on the's prefect for stippling.

Anyway, I was just looking at the drawing again thinking about a woman who had asked me if I had prints available of that drawing and at the time I hadn't even scanned the drawing. I used to make my early prints here in the studio. Each drawing had to be scanned in sections then put back together in photoshop...lots of clean up to the scans and then I'd print a test scan. Printing was done on an Epson 1520 wide format printer I had bought with archival inks so the prints would last. I printed on good quality hot pressed watercolor paper. I'd print about 5-10 prints and then sold the prints as people ordered them. When I needed more I'd buy more WC paper and print up another batch. Making your own prints was a lot of work and "a lot of work" is a major understatement.

I did get around to scanning the drawing but that was on an older scanner that wasn't that good to begin with. Scanners, for those of you who have only bought one in the last 10 years, used to suck on ice! Software didn't work with operating systems, bad scanning quality, lots of  "noise" in the scan...ghost lines...ugh! I'd like to rescan the whole thing now with my newer killer scanner I have. It's a scanner/copier/printer combo but scans better than any scanner I ever had in the old days!  In the detail photo you can see the scan quality...not that good, ugh!

I was thinking about finally getting to making some prints but there might be a few, my old printer and printer drivers might not work with my newer computer. I also might have a major problem finding archival inks for it since I bought the printer way back around the late 90' know how fast the computer world is. It's a dinosaur at this point. Damn progress!  I'll have to check some things out before I even attempt this.

Pick and Just Paint

I was thinking the other day that I spend way too much time going through reference photos before deciding on something I want to paint. I always start out thinking I want to paint a vineyard scene and then end up going through everything I've snapped shots of in the the end I haven't settled on anything.
I suppose I'm developing a diminising attention span. I'm not sure.

Sometimes I can talk myself out of painting a subject because I think the gallery won't take it or collectors wouldn't be interested in that subject. Even though I know the answer is just paint what you want I still will have second thoughts. I used to paint for fun was king. Then you get suggestions and they screw you all up. After just staring at this screen for 5 minutes and thinking about it maybe I sould listen to the voices....paint what you want.

I think the worse thing to paint are subjects or areas that you have no interest in. I think that is why I don't plein air paint as much as I thought I would. I've gone to several locations with other painters and walked around in search of something I wanted to paint only to find myself settling on something dull to me. What I came home with was a crummy painting and a high level of frustration. I like a good subject, plenty of time, good weather and when that's working it all clicks. Painting in the studio is a coffee, good tunes, no wind or bugs and no lighting problems. I find it much easier to concentrate and rarely do one that is going to end up getting scraped off. Not that they are all winners in the studio. There are always parts to a painting where I'm trying something a little different so I see progress there or feel it totally worked so I consider that a good painting....then later I'll paint another painting over it. Painting is so personal at times.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Brushes

Wow, received a sale catalogue from Jerry's Artarama not long ago and they had a great sale on hog hair filberts and flats. That's what I use, mostly filberts but flats are great for straight lines when doing boats, roof eaves, etc. 14 brushes for $35...not bad at all. They are cheapo brushes but with some quality in them. I don't use expensive brand name brushes since I'm pretty hard on many swishes in the turpentine when cleaning them and they've had it. I've used a good brush cleaner and conditioner before but you know I don't really like spending time fixing brushes, I'd rather paint with them until they've had it and then I either keep them in a seperate can until I need that beat up brush for wild natural grasses that go every which way.
I'm not real big on buying the most expensive stuff for art since art really isn't about what you create it's about what you sign your name to....not what you used to sign it. I know....lots of artists can give you all kinds of details about why they buy expensive stuff. Seems to me they are just going to pass that on to somebody and guess who that is?
Impressionist painters used to paint on wood scrapped from old packing crates when times were tough money and I can't afford one of those paintings so that's the's not about what you use to make a painting, it's about how well that painting looks to the person who buys it or just stands there and enjoys looking at it. My French Companion I built from scrap pieces of wood in my garage and two brass plated piano hinges bought at Home Depot cost me about $6 to make and the paint for some great paintings have been mixed right there....and it still works fine and will be around loooong after I'm dead and gone and hopefully in the hands of some other painter.
 My French Companion is well seasonsed now.....

Hotter and My Neighbor Jim

Well, it's been getting warmer now that summer is here. I hate the heat because in the afternoons there will be no painting in the studio because it gets too hot in here. One day while I was working on the bluff painting my neighbor Jim came by. Jim is 92 now and a WW2 vet. We can both talk each others ear off. If I was going to remember Jim for anything it would be not for his part in WW2 but more for his love of nature. Jim grew up in Santa Barbara and as a kid he would ride his bike to the bottom of the mountains and then thumb a ride from anyone headed up the mountains so he could hike miles to a campsite. From there he'd watch for animals, hike more, fish and just enjoy being a kid up in the mountains surrounded by nature. Age keeps him from doing all of these things now but he can name any peak I point out here in the valley. He can describe in depth details about any area around here. Jim, more than me or anyone else I know around here, is who God created this part of California for.

So Jim comes by and tells me that before he dies, which I suppose at 92 he thinks about, he wants to paint a life sized California condor....they are very big birds. He wants me to give him advice for either stretching the canvas or just making a that size I suggest stretching canvas over a frame that he plans to build. I suggest paints, acylics, and other details for him and off he goes. A week goes by and Jim calls to tell me he'd like me to come see his setup before he stretches the canvas. Linda and I go by and he's got a frame the size of a garage door! No I'm not exaggerating. Needless to say Linda, Jim and I all tackled stretching that canvas which was actually a paint drop cloth he bought at the hardware store since he couldn't afford or find regular canvas in that size. It took us about and hour to do it. I loaned JIm my canvas pliers but we didn't use that, just pulled on it with both hands. We had my electric stapler with lots of extra staples so thank god for that! 

Right now Jim is painting that baby. Why? Because Jim has a love of nature and wants to share his love of the California condor with anyone who can't miss running into a life sized painting of a condor....that is a big painting and if I can get some shots of it when he's done I will post them. Did I mention Jim has only sketched when he was a kid growing up....never painted at all! I'm proud of his drive. Helping Jim with his goal has been the most fun in art this year for me. He needed the help and I enjoyed sharing whatever it is I could share. Fun stuff!          

Monday, June 22, 2015

Vineyard at Sunset

"Last Light"
16"x20" Oil on Canvas

Another scene of the Firestone Vineyard at sunset. The Firestone vineyard  is acres and acres of vines rolling across the Foxen canyon with a spattering of oaks. In the center is their victorian house that is either just an office or the actual living quarters for family or foreman...not sure because I've only been there once but that was for a concert they had with David Crosby and Neil Young years ago.....yeah, it was a good one and I got to meet David Crosby and the rest of his band backstage. If you ever come out to the Santa Ynez valley you need to spend a day just crusing up Foxen Canyon. The canyon is beautiful and filled with dozens and dozens of vineyards. If you like wine tasting you can spend the whole day driving up through the canyon.
I think maybe just a few small tweaks and I'll call this one done. Having fun teaching myself to paint light this way.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chinese Art Forgery

I was looking through eBay today and stumbled across a painting by Calvin Liang. Funny, the ad said "From China" but that couldn't be right....but it was. The painting was Calvin Liangs but according to the auction it was painted by Liu "original oil painting" it says. WTF? I don't know if Calvin Liang knows about his work being sold on eBay by a company from China without his signature and the auction description claiming it is the painting of Liu Jian instead....that would piss me off.
Naturally I poked around after that trying to find out just how bad Chinese art forgery has become. According to people posting on eBay forums it has ruined the eBay we knew it as 10 or 15 years ago. I used to sell art prints on there all the time...made great money but things changed in the mid 2000's. After that it was almost impossible to get people to buy on there. I've sold a few paintings there, small ones when money was tight. That worked at first but the last few times I've tried that it didn't. The economy??? Forgery causing the loss of trusted eBayers??? I'm not sure but I would believe Chinese forgery hasn't helped eBay but for the life of me I can't understand a company like eBay who puts up with it. It's pretty blatant and I'm sure they've been warned by the people getting burned by it. Then I read an article about how hard it is to go after the forgers in China.... ....
I guess what it comes down to is people want to make money...keep their corporation going and no complaining, ripped off, whiney artist is going to mess that up. It's sad to think America has become a country that doesn't protect their own people from getting screwed by foreign countries. Heck, if we allow foreigners to cut the heads off of our people why would it bother them that some artist is getting ripped off for a painting or two....or 10,000.
When I was in the service in Germany we used to brag to each other about how awesome America was compared to other countries. I wouldn't brag at all nowadays. I can't believe that America would still allow trading to go on with China at all. Imagine all of the industry that would come back to the US if we made our own steel, built our own ships, made our own shoes and clothing. You know, we used to do that stuff and it was more expensive but most of us had jobs to afford it. Of course....I'm no expert, I'm an artist.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shell Beach Bluffs

 "Shell Beach Bluffs"
16"x20" Oil on Canvas

North of where I live is the tiny spot along the coast called Shell Beach. It is located just north of the beach city of Pismo which is famous for it's sand dunes. Shell Beach has wonderful bluffs jutting out from the ocean and great sea caves. This painting is of the bluffs there. Actually in this image, I left it out, are some fence posts and a gazebo. I would have painted it in but I really liked that sunlight hitting the bluffs and wanted to concentrate on that in this painting. The bluffs here are just wonderful looking, maybe I'll do another with the gazebo added in. Below is a cropped section of the painting showing the mustard plant. I liked how that came out so this is a larger version of that. The best part of this painting is what it looks like when you have lights on looks so cool when it's lit up...the light hitting the rocks really makes it come alive.   

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Sunset Painting

"Umpqua Sunset"
18" X 24"
Oil on Canvas
While travelling through Oregon back in September I was fortunate to enjoy a great sunset near the Umpqua National Forest. I was on the outskirts of the town of Green. After a quick dinner at the local Arby's I grabbed my camera and found a spot to get what I wanted on film. I created this painting working from 2 reference photos taken that evening. I only took two photos because I felt I had waited too long and the sun had set lower than I'd planned. Looking over my photo the day before yesterday I felt maybe it would work anyway since the sun was just below the mountains. Off to the easel I went. I was able to block in the sky that first night....worked off and on most of the next day and finished today....good thing since it's getting hot in the studio and it's time for dinner. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Firestone Vineyard

"Firestone Vineyard"
18"x24" Oil on Canvas
It was time to do another vineyard scene so I searched through my reference photos and found some vineyard shots taken at the Firestone vineyard in Foxen canyon. The main house on the vineyard is just off to the left of this scene. I didn't include it because it is a wonderful older house that I feel needs it's own painting using it as the main point of interest. I was told the house came from Santa Maria and was brought down to the Firestone location years ago. The colors are a bit off, I think, from my actual painting and this photo. The difference is due to my lack of being a better could write volumes on taking good photos of paintings. This photo is close though. This painting would look good in a gold frame or even a nice dark wood frame.

I'm actually not a big fan of vineyard painting. I'm not crazy about the bright greens and yellows of the vineyard against the muted colors of the hillsides around here....I know, I'm crazy. Just a personal feeling about it and I'm allowed that. I'd rather catch the sublime colors of the landscape in the evenings or mornings on the central coast or try to get better painting the ocean. Still, I'd like to paint better vineyard scenes so more of these will happen. I think I'm in search of a way to paint them and marry them to my sublime look of the hillsides and oaks. Painting has so many challenges to it. The vineyards are now in their full bore growing time with lots of new green leaves so I will hunt down some new scenes to paint.