Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marathon... No April Fool's Joke!!! ( But I considered it!)

This is what my job for the month looks like at the moment. Of course I need to prime, mount linen, etc.. But 120 panels (5x7) look a little overwhelming when I consider that in 30 days they should all have an image on them.

Would this be a bad time for an April Fool's Joke??? :-) Oh... the coffee cup is just there for scale. Up here coffee is mandatory hydration and many of those being hydrated come from the old country, Norge. I'll be needing some.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Painting Marathon...in case you want to follow it.

I'm feeling the need to shake off the metaphoric cobwebs that form from being in the studio, for what has seemed like a very long winter, and to get out and enjoy the spring weather (if it shows up... winter isn't letting go yet!). In light of that, I’m embarking on a one month project that I'm calling “My Painting Marathon”.

Beginning Wednesday, April 1, 2009 and continuing until April 30, 2009, I will be painting four (4) small paintings every day and posting them on my website blog. I do have a three day workshop scheduled the middle of April and won't be able to paint the 4 per day during that time. In order to keep the total number of paintings at 120, I'll be sprinkling one in here and there on other days throughout the month.

Why do this? A few years back, about 2005, following artist Duane Keiser’s 2004 ‘A Painting A Day’ lead (which became a world wide phenomenon), I like many other painters started a similar project. Mine didn’t make it too far. I painted daily anyway, whether working on a larger painting in the studio or completing smaller pieces en plein air. I’m a full time artist, that’s what I do! The one painting a day for it’s own sake seemed redundant for me so I let it go.

Now I’m feeling the need for a serious challenge, like being an artist isn't enough of one already. None the less, I think that I’ve found one. 4 paintings a day for 30 days should do it! Admittedly, it's a spin off of the Daily Painting movement, that's obvious. Even while just sitting here typing out this post about the project, the word "DAUNTING" is flashing like a migraine induced - kaleidoscopic image in my head. Committing to 120 paintings in 30 days is A LOT of commitment!

Maybe I should be committed?

Seriously... at the same time I'm eagerly anticipating how much this is going to teach me about painting. Subject matter is in existence all around me that I probably walk or drive past daily without noticing. This will give me more than enough opportunity to pay a little closer attention to my world. In addition to learning to understand how to see otherwise neglected subject matter, I suspect that the experience will build a pretty good card catalogue in my mental library on the subject of atmospheric mood, and seasonal color and texture in the landscape. Then there are all of the discoveries to be made about the tools and techniques that I use from painting this many paintings in such a concentrated drop of time. Efficient use of time! That might become the biggest lesson of all. I don't really know what all of the benefits will be, but I look forward to discovering them all.

You can opt to check in here on your own to view the daily paintings, or you can subscribe to my EMAIL NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION LIST.

In that case you will receive an email each day of the month of April previewing the images painted that day, or the previous day if I'm delayed in sending it out.

If you are already subscribed to my list but don't care to receive these daily mailings, you can unsubscribe at any time. If you decide to 'unsubscribe' I will be notified by FASO, the web host. At that time I will add your address to a folder that I can then add back to the email list when the project is over and you will be re-subscribed without having to do anything else. Or you can re-subscribe off an on as it suits you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New paintings.

'Outlet' - oil on panel - 14x11 © Marc R. Hanson '09
Since Monday, the day of the warm wind and turkeys, it's been windy with variation in how cold or warm it is. But one thing has been consistent, the wind. I don't like wind other than for sailing and kite flying. It interferes with everything else that I like to do.

The first painting is from Tuesday morning, a day that started out with promise. However, the filtered sunlight and warm start only lasted until I was about half way through this painting. Around 11:00 am a northwestern cold front settled in with fast dropping temps, 1/4 mile visibility, wind and mist! This front cut a distinct line diagonally across the state and I think that I was right on it. It was nasty!!! I didn't think that I had enough of this one done, couldn't stop shaking to see if I did. But when I got it home I realized that with about five minutes of cleaning up some snow, it was OK. I like the mood and I like it as a color study. That was it for the day for me. I went out with clothes for sun and temps in the low 50's, not mist, wind and temps in the low to mid 30's.

This morning I met two very good friends, and two very good painters... Mike Rada and Ben Bauer... in Stillwater to paint for the first half of the day. We did better but the wind was still an annoyance. For those who don't do this, the reason it's a pain is that it knocks you around and breaks your concentration. It's not as bad as below zero weather for sure, but we deserve 'nice' by now!

We first painted out on one of our favorite dirt roads, the same spot as the 'Outlet' painting above, with Sandhill cranes, geese and assorted waterfowl as company. Oh, and the wind. Did I mention that??? As soon as we were all finished here, we motored over to the boomsite in Stillwater again to try to get out of the wind. That made a huge difference. We had a great morning and it was great company to be with these two great painters.

"Chilly Spring Day" - oil on panel - 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '09
An extremely subtle day. My main concern was trying to discern the difference between the dirt and the dead grass. There wasn't much at all, but a slight temperature shift between the two. Trying to paint in telephone poles in a 20 mph wind is not worth the try. Next time I'm going to remember to just not bother with that and do it in the studio upon returning home.

"Breaking Up" - oil on panel - 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '09
I think that we all had more fun at this location. A little more out of the wind, the rawness of the river's spring changes, eagles in flight and lots of waterfowl. The ice is beginning to break up and move out of the river... yesssss!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blustery warm spring day!

'Two Toms' - oil on linen - 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '09

Wow! Can't beat 60F degrees... unless the wind is calm and not blowing around 15 to 25 kts. I was planning on painting outside all day to take advantage of these warm temps. But after an hour on this one, trying to get the brush to land somewhere on the painting that I intended, I decided to work on my frame for the rest of the afternoon. I could not get out of the wind even in the old reliable 'out of the wind' locations.

I painted this around 11 am or so this morning, up on a knoll. The light and color is very, very attractive right now and I'm dying to paint more of it before the greens start showing up, which they are beginning to do as of today. Grasses in fields turned green as I was watching in some places. I was seriously so blasted by wind that I was about to wipe this one when these two tom turkeys showed up from out of nowhere. It was so cool to see them in this setting that I spent the few minutes that they were in front of me memorizing as best I could their posture/attitudes, and then braced my hand and knocked them in, inbetween gusts of wind. All total slightly less than an hour on this one. It's barely painted but the mood of the day is there so I learned something....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

'Island Light' - oil on board - 8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '09

I had the great joy and pleasure of having my youngest son Erik out painting with me today. It was a warm day but we headed for the shelter of the Boom Site near Stillwater, MN. The cliffs kept us protected from the wind that was up. This was his very first experience in painting outside from life. He did good. We're going to get him going on a course of study and I expect that he, like his older brother, has latent abilities that will come to the surface the more he works at it.

This is the piece that I did for Erik as a demo, how to put paint on, what to look for, etc..

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Frame-red base coat and leaf.

This is the state that the frame is in now. This is the 'raw' metal leaf. I always like this stage. It makes me feel rich, all that gold. It's nothing but copper, aluminum, brass and other alloys I guess, but it looks good.

Next step is to clean this up with cotton balls, decide how much of it to rub off if any at all, and then to seal it with a coat of shellac. That should happen today.

In case it seems like I'm working on this for weeks, I'm not. ;-) I spent about 1 hour applying the size and applying the leaf. That goes pretty fast. You spend more time waiting for things to dry. And of course that means that I can go paint while that's happening!

In the traditional world of gilding, this should be the bole, a pigmented clay base for laying on the leaf. In my 'altered' case, this is latex paint. For those not familiar, if I were using real gold instead of metal leaf (imitation gold leaf), the bole is there to absorb the gilder's 'glue' that adheres the leaf and is also there as a base to burnish the leaf into. The metal leaf that I'm using doesn't get burnished much. It isn't real gold so it doesn't flatten out like real gold does. All I really want is a surface that is as smooth as I can make it and a color underneath that will sneak through anywhere that the leaf is missing or where I rub through it.

After a sufficient drying period, I'll brush on the Wunda size, the glue that the metal leaf adheres to, then lay the leaf. Following that will be anybody's guess as to what all I do to it. It has to fit my painting... I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, I wish 'red' was the frame color of choice... I always like this stage.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sealing and priming frame

Well in between lot's of 'goings on', I'm still working on the frame. I applied about three layers of shellac to seal the raw wood with sanding in between. Now I'm beginning to apply the coat that would be gesso if I were doing this completely traditional. In this case it's Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 water based primer sealer. I plan to apply about 4 coats, sanded in between, of this with the Apollo HVLP sprayer shown in the pic. To spray the primer it has to be thinned to specs with a Zahn cup so that it's the right viscosity to spray. If you get that correct, the finish is beautiful to look at. The objective is a smooth surface to apply the leaf to. Next will come the colored ground that the size is painted on, followed by the leaf. I'll use a traditional earthy red, like an iron oxide red, acrylic base paint for that. Maybe later today, though the humidity is up so drying will be slow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Frame in progress...what's the lesson???

Okay, I taught skiing in California for about 5 years or so, I teach painting now. Anytime that someone in the past asked me about wanting to start to ski or paint my first recommendation is... "Take a lesson! It will save you years, possibly, in your progression."

So why is it that I can't learn that lesson myself? (Notice how this is turning into my "excuse" concerning this frame?)

Oh what the h***! I'm going to share a little of the progress of how 'I' make a frame. I know of a master gilder who will probably call me up and ask me if I've been in the Turpentine bath too long again. He should. I should go take a lesson from him actually....hmmmmm?

I haven't done this very much but twice I framed my OPA paintings, that were accepted into the national exhibit, with 'Frames by Marc'. I still have the first one and it does not have cracked corners (almost every single one of the 'ready mades' I've purchased from the 'you know who' companies, have at least one split corner mitre). But it requires a lot of time and frankly, it's worth it.

I know that there are a number of painters out there who make their own frames, complete using traditional watergilding methods and all. My apologies and appreciation to them... I'm not. This is going to be basic metal leaf. I won't even be using a gesso or clay base. I use shellac and painting primers (sandable) for a smooth base to accept the leaf. Once it's primed, I paint on a layer of oxide red base coat, usually acrylic based, Wunda (acrylic) size and then the leaf. The finishing of the frame is a hodgepodge of 'stuff' applied to achieve the look that I want. Once that's accomplished, I seal the frame with... something... and it's done. In between is a lot of sweat, a few tears and some blood.

Here are the pics. First the raw materials showing them as they came and as the profile. Following that the assembled frame being sanded. I routed out the rabbet and the slope on the lip's upper surface by hand, with router. There is a lot of sanding to come...

Unless I want my house full of sawdust, I wait till the weather is above freezing and do this on the handiest workbench I have... the tailgate of my truck.

This is the one that I was referring to above. My 1999 OPA entry with the frame that I made for it. The panel has a slightly magenta smokey wash in it that picks up on the magenta in the painting, not all that visible here.

It's not all painting... is it?

Nothing to post today although there has been a lot going on in my studio. I've even been painting!

Today I'm continuing my effort to finish a frame for the last painting I posted "Minimum Maintenance'. I'm also working on some studies for future large paintings. This painting that needs a frame is 24x24 and it needs a frame that is better than what is in my budget. So... I'm making one myself. It's not the first time. The square format is hard enough to find in a finished corner frame with some sort of metal leaf finish. To go to a company that builds gilded frames would be nice but so costly that it's just not happening. So from some 1x4 poplar stock ( I can't find basswood here in that size length), a couple of basswood trim mouldings, a router and a couple of blades, a boat load of sandpaper, a jug of Wunda size, lot's of gold metal leaf and a laboratory of finishing chemicals, stains, paints and other assorted liquids and pastes... I should end up with a frame that fits 'this' painting and is better for it than anything that I could afford to purchase. There is something very satisfying about creating the final piece of the painting puzzle, the frame. At this point, I've probably at least stretched the linen, or mounted the linen on board, or primed the linen or board... had some part in the construction of the painting support that I'm painting on. Like my making of this frame, sometimes in order to have the materials that work best for us, we need to be verse ( and enjoy doing it )in how to make them ourselves.

I will post the finished frame when I'm done.

In the mean time, I was reading about cats on Colin Page's journal, where he has a picture of his cat standing on his shoulders while he's painting! Colin's 6'7", like a tree, so that makes sense! They like to have a good vantage point up high and it looks like Colin is it. ;-) ( Not making fun of ya Colin... :) That's a great photo.

Since becoming a cat owner a couple of years ago, never having had a cat in my life before, I've found it interesting how many artists have cats. It's really understandable if you think about it. They provide a comforting, but not needy, friend during the long hours of isolation that artists spend in their studios. Their way of being that, I think, is by just being themselves. No tail wagging, no tongues hanging out of the mouth with accompanying drool, no panting, no groans and moans (that are very loud anyway), no smells....no whining or barking. All of those traitss that our other best friends, dogs, are overrun with . Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love dogs. But... cats can be with you, but not be there, if you know what I mean. They're quiet, a good thing for concentration, they seem to like you 'not' paying attention to them while at work (until they demand it), and they come up with activities and antics that are constantly amusing and amazing. On top of that, if you're out for a day of painting, there's no need to be home in time to let them out for relief.

They can be easy to please yet insistent... Mine insists on my using walnut oil, but he doesn't need much more than a paper bag for entertainment! By the way, he's not laying on a wall, that's actually the flooring in my kitchen, from a long time ago.

Back to frame making....