Thursday, January 28, 2010

'January Moonlight'

"January Moonlight" - oil on linen - 9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '10
I had to go paint the nearly full moonlight tonight. It's cold, -4ºF, but with 6 or 7 layers of polypropelene, fleece and arctic boots rated to -120ºF... I was actually real toasty roasty warm. There wasn't a breath of wind and that made the difference. Of course I forgot one of the most important items, the mast to the EasyL that holds the panel. I nearly panicked, I did not want to have to go home to get it. Finally figured out a solution, using up my 'warm' reserves, then got to work. The light was not as cool as it is sometimes. But as I was coming home, and right now at 9:00 pm, the moon is really lighting things up and the light on the snow is much more blue in color. Can't do this again tomorrow night, but maybe again on Saturday, the full moon night. I spent about 2 hours outside between getting set up, painting and taking down. The biggest problem in the cold is 'moving' due to all of the clothing, glove liners and gloves and or mittens. That... is frustrating when it's biting your butt.

Here's the only pic that I could take. The batteries didn't make it and the spares were being used for the book light. I went through two sets of those during the hour and a half painting time. Tried to use the flash and that was all she wrote...

Michael Skalka 'The Mystery of Solvent Safety'

I'm posting this newsletter because it's so important to our safety as practicing artists. Michael Skalka, Conservation Administrator- National Gallery of Art, writes this newsletter and discusses materials that are of interest to artists. Scroll down to the bottom where he has an email address that you can subscribe to if you are interested.

Grammar of Color
Volume 6, No. 1

The Mystery of Solvent Safety

Greetings again. I must apologize for such a long hiatus from writing. However, so many transitions have taken place over the last several months that writing has had to take a back seat to other pressing demands. The conservation division has moved from the area it once occupied since the late 1970s to a new temporary space that will accommodate us for about two years while our former studios are reconfigured with new plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, electrical and safety systems. Once put back together it should serve the needs of the division for many years to come. We have also made a transition to new leadership in conservation and we are all settling into new work roles. To further add to the workload, I have taken on a project of refurbishing an 1880s Italianate style townhouse so my free time is spent painting with a roller rather than a small sable brush and my palette is straight from the commercial world of paint chips with dazzling room color ideas. The shift from a plein air paint box to a roller pan requires some adjustment. I am measuring usage of paint in gallons rather than squirts of paint from a tube onto a wooden palette.

Painting walls and ceilings with commercial paints has led me down new paths that did not exist the last time I did any major house painting. The somewhat new world of low VOC and no VOC paints offers fewer pollutants for house painters personally, the home environment and the planet as well.

We think of acrylic paints as not having volatile organic compounds (VOC) since they clean up with water and don’t have the harsh smell of mineral spirits. However many, traditional acrylic paints for walls as well as our artwork have a small percentage of volatile organic compounds that aid in the formation of a durable paint film. Some VOCs are coalescing agents that assist the acrylic polymers in melding together to form a continuous film. Think of it as a bit of solvent that melts the outside of each acrylic polymers and fuses it to an adjoining polymer. Other organic compounds contained in acrylic paints are not necessarily solvents but nevertheless are volatile in that they evaporate into the air after the paint is applied. Given the large surface area after fresh paint is rolled onto walls and ceilings, a substantial amount of VOCs are released quickly as the paint dries and beyond the initial drying stage for a period of time as these compounds work themselves out of the paint film.

With all this wall painting close at hand, the smell of the VOC exuding from the paint inspired me to think about solvents in a broader sense as they apply to artists. This is also where one of the major paradoxes occurs in the world of the art as it clashes with the worlds of chemistry and physics. To fully understand health and safety issues, one has to take an interest in topics far outside of the world of art.

Most artists I meet focus on making art using the media they choose to manipulate. Overall, I don’t encounter many artists who are extremely interested in the subtleties of the materials, especially the chemical and technical aspects of art products. The commercial side of the paint world does not reveal itself easily to anyone. I don’t believe that one should have to get a degree in chemistry or industrial hygiene in order to understand the list of benign or harmful materials in paint related products. It is a morass of confusing acronyms, a display of complicated testing and reams of nearly undecipherable numbers. While it is easy to throw up your hands and say that it is too complicated to understand, the consequence of ignoring some fundamental issues with materials of a harmful nature in paint products can end with some tragic personal health results. This is one case where ignorance is not bliss. Apathy or improper handling of certain materials can result in both short and long-term damage to one’s health.

The industry does not do the artist or homeowner any favors. Request a Materials Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) from a vendor or manufacturer of materials that contain hazardous products in them and see just how much of it is understandable, especially the critical parts. Knowing that solvents are not to be orally consumed, splashed on skin or inhaled in a closed room is just the beginning of the process of understanding how material safety sheets provide valuable information.

As with nearly all things art related, art materials are derived from the larger world of commercial products. Solvents in particular, are the companions for oil paints because they possess the special property that allows then to dissolve the oil binder in paints and to be the vehicle to both dissolve and spread certain resins classified as varnish. Unfortunately, solvents come in various types. Some are very powerful. Others are weak. Some evaporate quickly while others linger for extended periods. Some are outrageously toxic and some are not acutely dangerous, but they all share the common component of being harmful to some degree to human health and a pollutant to the environment.

This article is not a course on solvent safety or selection, but rather an introduction calling artists to create a protocol for personal health and the safety as well as those who work around them. Education is essential to understanding what to use and what must be avoided both in selection of solvents and ways to use them.

Here are a few important things to know about solvents in a general way. Read more for yourself and make educated judgments about what to use and how to use it to maximize your safety.

What are you buying? Two aids in making educated decisions about solvent purchases can come from vastly different sources. The Materials Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) provides identification information on what harmful components are contained in a solvent product. Thankfully, in an odd way, MSDS lists chemicals because they are considered harmful and MSDS sheet focuses on these hazardous components. It will not provide information on benign or proprietary materials contained in a product. The other helpful entity is the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number. Chemicals are cleverly identified by a unique numbering system so, despite the name of the product, which may be called mineral spirits, thinner, paint thinner, solvent, Stoddard Solvent, VM&P Naphtha, or by trade names, if you dig down you can find the CAS number of the solvent and identify it. A word of caution is in order. CAS numbers are not so precise to identify exact materials. Some variations exist. See the section below on more bad news.

What are its properties? Artists who are concerned with solvent working properties will examine how fast they evaporate, if they leave any residue or what materials they will dissolve. For solvent safety, the task is a bit more complicated. Fortunately, a federal acronym….I mean agency, and other institutions provide some meaningful safety data on solvents. The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) publish volumes of information on materials used in our modern world. OSHA publishes a guide that focuses specifically on a measured amount of time and concentration of solvent that can be present in a space that will not cause long-term harm to a worker. That measurement is called the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) and provides some indication of how much or little solvent in vapor form can exist within a workspace before harm is caused. Think of it as a gross indicator of the danger a solvent poses. A higher PEL means that more solvent can be in a workspace but still not cause harm. A lower PEL number implies that the solvent has more dangerous components in it and a work environment must maintain a low level of the solvent vapor in the air around a worker. The measurement is expressed in parts per million. Note that these levels of permissible exposure are extremely low from a standpoint of a person being able to detect solvent odor if they entered a workplace that stayed within permissible exposure levels of solvent concentration. Good air exchange is an essential factor in maintaining low exposure levels. Further, the use of personal respirators appropriate to the materials used, add to maintaining low exposure to solvents by people who work with them on a daily basis.

For example, many artists know that OSHA rates turpentine as having a PEL of 100 parts per million (ppm) exposure before long-term harm is caused. That means that if an environment exceeds 100 ppm the risk to health is increased. Odorless mineral spirits are generally rated around 200 ppm PEL for exposure. A few heavy hydrotreated Naphtha solvents are rated as high as 300 ppm for the exposure threshold. In a relative way, that makes them safer than turpentine because the ppm can be higher without causing adverse health risks. However, 300 ppm is not insignificant, allowing artists to ignore a concern for safety measures. An artist still has to maintain a studio space with proper air exchange using outside air as well as keeping the container holding the solvent closed as much as possible. It takes a concerted effort to provide good air exchange. Opening a window or two does not constitute adequate air exchange.

The bad news! I hate to break this to you after reading up to this point, but we artist as mere mortals have no way to measure the parts per million of solvents in an environment without complicated and expensive equipment. These measurements require testing gear that goes beyond what most of us would be willing to buy or spend to evaluate our studio space. So we just don’t know how many ppm fill our studios if we crack open a can of solvent and let the vapor escape into our work area. Further, we cannot rely on odor concentration thresholds (the strength of the smell of a solvent) to help us determine if we have exceeded the maximum ppm as indicated by OSHA guidelines. This is especially true when using odorless solvents. We all have different sensitivities to odors. Some strong odors are not indicative of high concentrations and some dangerous solvents are not particularly outrageous in odor but can be present in very high levels of concentration that could cause harm. So drop the idea that you can become a human gas chromatograph and know when a solvent has reached a concentration strong enough to cause lasting damage. Overall, we just cannot use the OSHA PEL ratings for solvents to assure we have a safe working environment in the presence of these painting materials. The PEL is just a rough guide to understanding relative harm a solvent can do to human beings.

More bad news! OK, so we can’t use our nose to detect dangerous solvent odor concentrations and monitoring/testing is too time consuming and expensive. The other disheartening information to share is that not all solvents are pure and unadulterated. A thought-provoking article in the American Institute for Conservation Newsletter by Alan Phenix discusses discrepancies in solvent safety labeling for products. The same Chemical Abstract Service number can have small variations in the list of ingredients that if broken down indicates a large percentage of one main solvent and smaller amounts of other solvents. In many cases, those smaller amounts in the mixture have far more harmful properties than the larger one and that will change the warning label on the solvent. Thus, two products labeled “Mineral Spirits” can have confusingly different PEL ratings. For example, a product I found labeled “Mineral Spirits” indicates that it contains both Stoddard Solvent and 1,2,4, Trimethylbenzene. The Stoddard Solvent is rated at 500 ppm PEL but the other ingredient is rated at an alarming 10 to 25 ppm PEL. The 1,2,4, Trimethylbenzene has such a low level of allowable concentration that this solvent is a hazard in a typical artists’ studio where ventilation is rarely up to industrial standards. Note that the label on the container says “Mineral Spirits” but it really is a mixture of two petrochemical distillates. Artists should not only look for high PEL rated solvents but also make sure that no other more toxic solvents are mixed into them. Understand that refining solvents is costly and that purer, more homogenous solvents require more effort/money to produce. While it is not suggested that you run out and look for reagent grade pure solvents, some careful reading when selecting solvents is in order.

In the case of solvents, cheaper is not better. Low cost solvents are more likely to contain adulterants that have very different PEL ratings than the primary ingredient. This is the part where ignorance can be very harmful to you and those around you. Be selective about your solvent choices and use the manufacturer’s research, MSDS data and reputation of the manufacturer as a guide to buying products.

The Orange Myth: The Internet is filled with references that promote the safety of solvents based on the oil extracted from the skins of oranges. What could be more wholesome? Orange citrus cleaners and environmentally friendly orange solvents are all marketed as alternatives to those bad, nasty hydrocarbon solvents. Some advertise the solvents as “food grade” in purity. However, referred to by the MSDS names, Orange Terpenes or D-Limonene, the concentration for Permissible Exposure Limits is a frightening 30 ppm. That is only 5 ppm higher than 1,2,4, Trimethylbenzene and nowhere near the level of highly refined Naphtha at 300 ppm.

Artists have many choices. They can use few if any solvent products and still paint with oil based materials. A system for working solvent-free has been well documented. Artists can also engage in various levels of solvent use from judicious to outrageous. Some think nothing of using open cans of solvent in poorly ventilated rooms. Others carefully use solvents and pay close attention to how long they keep any solvent open to the air. Either way, one rule about the universe prevails and that is the consistency of the physical properties of materials. It does not matter if you choose to become savvy about solvent use or carefree about exposure to them, the harmful effects will apply to everyone without regard to how much you care to learn about the subject.

So in closing, the caution is this. The harmful effects of solvents are not someone else’s problem to confront. It is yours. Art materials are derived from a technical world and you can choose to disregard the complexities of some rudimentary chemistry but you will pay the price at some point. Make the effort to learn how to handle solvents and how to select them. Learn what harm they can do to you, design a safe system that keeps solvent vapors at low levels so that you can reap the reward of what will hopefully be a far longer and productive painting career than if you choose to ignore the danger.

The Grammar of Color

Lecture Announcement

Reflectance and Luminescence Imaging Spectroscopy of Paintings, Works on Paper and Illuminated Manuscripts

(Please note: This will be a technical lecture and is intended for an audience interested in analysis of works of art.)

Dr. John K. Delaney
Andrew W. Mellon Senior Imaging Scientist
Scientific Research Department
National Gallery of Art

2:00 PM, Tuesday Feb 16, 2010
West Building Lecture Hall

Abstract: Imaging spectroscopy, the collection of numerous calibrated images in narrow spectral bands, is a powerful technique for remote identification and mapping of materials. Using reflectance imaging spectroscopy, minerals have been identified and mapped on the Earth and Planets. Luminescence imaging spectroscopy is used in biophysics to follow complex cellular activity by separating and mapping various fluorescently tagged biomolecules. In this talk we present our group’s findings on the application of both forms of imaging spectroscopy for the identification and mapping of artists’ materials in paintings, works on paper and illuminated manuscripts. The results are compared with those obtained from X-ray fluorescence, polarized light microscopy and SEM/EDS. Imaging sensors employed in the study consist of novel hyperspectral (hundreds of spectral bands) and multispectral (15 spectral bands) cameras operating from 400 to 2400 nm. Results will be presented from the study of paintings, such as Giorgione’s The Holy Family, Picasso’s Harlequin Musician, Gorky’s Organization and Manet’s The Old Musician. Using high sensitivity spectral cameras, imaging spectroscopy has also been proven to be useful for the identification and mapping of artists’ materials in works on paper, such as those by Mark Rothko and John Marin and illuminated manuscripts, such as Christ in Majesty with Twelve Apostles from the workshop of Pacino di Buonaguida. These results show that combined reflectance and luminescence imaging spectroscopy in the visible and infrared is a powerful in situ tool for the identification of artists’ materials and that it can serve as a guide for the selection of sites for further chemical analysis.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

M Gallery of Fine Art - Sarasota, FL Workshop - 1/4 to 1/8, 2010

It's taken me a while to get to blogging about the workshop that I taught in Florida in early January. I'm still working on the 'Egret' painting, and have started another 24x36 Florida landscape that I'm taking progression photos of. But I need to talk about this workshop before it gets too far out.

I arrived the day before New Years Eve! On New Years Eve Maggie and Lawrence (her husband) took me to a New Year Eve party unlike anything that I've ever been too before. The home of an artist who has turned his entire property into a fantasy land of architectural assemblages that you could only understand if you saw it yourself. I'm not even going to try to explain it. Let's just say that it was "fantasylandtastic"... my word.

Maggie Kruger ( at the paint out, above ) owner of M Gallery of Fine Art hosted the workshop... and me in a "royal" way! She has three wonderful employees, Crystal(the M Gallery manager), Karen ( on the left in the pic above) and Natashia. They took care of everything other than actually painting my paintings for me. Karen was in most of the workshop herself and had some wonderful breakthrough moments in her own painting advancement. I was treated so well that I'm going back in late May for an encore... more on that in the next week or so. A little teaser... the next workshop will be a 'Plein Air to Studio' workshop. I taught this curriculum in New York last summer and it was extremely gratifying to see what developed in the class.

We all had a Great time considering the weather. During the week we experienced the longest lasting cold spell that Florida has seen... ever! Now you might think that for a Minnesotan like me that's no biggie. This Minnesotan went to "sunny" Florida with not much more than sandels, lots of short pants and T-shirts. IT WAS COLD! It was like getting sucker punched.

Despite that the crew (class) of 14 students held their interest and eagerness to learn out in front of their desire to escape into a warmer environment and diligently pushed ahead and produced A LOT of good, studious work. Once again the benefit goes to me. I get to spend five days talking as much as I want to about something that I live and love for, art... painting. On top of that the time is spent meeting and getting to know other artists who are interested in learning more about this thing that consumes our lives and takes us to places within our deepest inner selves, and outside of our comfort zone. The experience for all of us, me included, is one of joy and discovery and I cherish every single moment of the journey.

Class... you all get an 'A'.

I am going to post a lot of art here to explain the workshop philosophy. Some of the photography was done down in Florida on my little Canon Power Shot SX120 without the best lighting or time to do it properly. So I apologize for the glare and other photographic aberrations ahead of time.

I arrived in Sarasota a few days early to get to know the area a little and to paint. The painting didn't go quite as well as we had planned due to rain. But I did get one little study done and a number of artists who Maggie rounded up went to Myakka River State Park on Saturday to paint. This first painting is a little study I did very quickly between clouds and rain one of the first evenings in Sarasota. I was on Bird Key looking across the Intercoastal Waterway at the Sarasota skyline.

'Sarasota Skyline' - oil on linen - 6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10

We had a great time and Myakka has become a favorite place of mine as you'll see. One of the very fine painters to join in on the Myakka paint out was Hodges Soileau, an extraordinary painter who's had a background as an illustrator that is to be envied. Take a look at his website to see more of his wonderful art.

Hodges Soileau

The next two paintings are the ones I did at our informal 'paintout' at Myakka River State Park.

"Florida" - oil on linen-11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Will the real Florida please stand up? This was my first sight of the 'real' Florida and it was inspirational. Myakka River State Park is a 'large' chunk of 'real Florida' realestate and it's a treasure... and it's protected as Florida's second largest state park. I was taken with the warmth of the shadows in the forests. The palms added a texture to the landscape that was odd to me, but an 'odd' that I fully embraced with interest in trying to understand and paint.

"Backlit River"-oil on board-6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Following my introduction in the painting above, I only had a short amount of time to paint another painting. So as the sun was getting lower I decided to try to catch that in this little painting. Drama comes to mind.

In the interest of me getting some sleep tonight, I'm not going to launch into a spiel that fully explores what happened(s) in my workshops. You'll have to come to one to find that out! :-) But I am going to try to give you an idea of what we do in an abbreviated way.

My philosophy is that I serve my students best if I teach workshops that take them back to the basics, not workshops that simply provide them with 'paintings' to take home. I would rather they go home with a pile of work that sits in the corner for a while until they're ready for it to be applicable to them and their work. If they leave exhausted, slightly overwhelmed, but questioning, I feel that I've done my job.

In light of that... I operate under the idea that to better understand COLOR, the one thing that we all seem to love about painting despite our own personal style or approach, we first need to better understand 'value' and how that relates to the color we see and use in our paintings. So I Always start out my workshops with some Black and White (VALUE) exercises. I emphasize, in this order, the importance of DRAWING, VALUE, COLOR and COMPOSITION or DESIGN before we talk about anything else.

The first exercise we did involved all of the four elements listed above, though COLOR was only involved as its' being understood as VALUE first. The students had to paint three panels that were appx. 70% dominant in one value family. A Light, Middle and Dark VALUE design was required. In my demo above you can see that due to our overcast skies, it was hard to find a very light composition. About all I could find for the 'Light' panel was the parking lot. I was stretching my guidelines but the point was illustrated. Ideas touched on were learning to design an 'image' using 'value keying' to create a mood in the paintings, and learning to categorize the elements of the design into their appropriate value families. Another important point made is 'massing' of value families in order to learn to simplify more in the designs.

The second day I used a project that is designed to take the students through the first days work, massing, identifications of value families within the composition, and design. But then we add color to the mix. This exercise first has them create a composition using no more than 3 values, a light, middle and a dark. Then halftones, dark accents and highlights are added, but the integrity of the value families has to be maintained. From there the same process is repeated in panels 3&4, as in panels 1&2, but in color.

Despite the cold, windy, Minnesota in Florida weather, we had a nocturne painting night down on the docks of the Bird Key Yacht Club. A number of us participated, in part because Maggie fed us hot soup and hors d'oeuvres before hand that warmed our internal furnaces. Pardon the glare, and the color, not too good...

"Bird Key Nocturne"-oil on linen-9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Let's just say that it was cold. This was painted looking across the water at a pretty nice house... :)... and all of it's lit up exterior. I wish that I had a good pic of this one.

The following day I gave the class a 'Memory Exercise', followed my a demo in the afternoon.

"Tiki Bar"-oil on linen-11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Truly sorry for this pic too. There was a great little bar and restaurant in the harbor area of Sarasota. I wish it would have been warmer and I'd had the time to sit there, watch the waterfront action and sip on a beverage of some kind. Still I was trying to tie together some of what we had done to this point in the class. Massing of values, color temperature, etc..

On Thursday we headed back out to Myakka River State Park and had a great day! This was the best day for everyone in the class. I wanted them to think about our work with the simplification of masses both in value and of course, in color. So their assignment was to paint small studies in about 45 minutes or so. The studies were to use as few value/color masses as possible to get their point across. We spent a fair amount of time talking about CONCEPT also. "What is it that you are here to paint?"... "What do you want to say about your subject?". I think that almost every student painted at least 4 studies in the 6" to 8" range, and some went on to paint a larger piece in the afternoon also.

"Myakka Morning"-oil on linen-6x8 © Marc R. Hanson '10
This was my demo for the morning showing the idea of massing value and color into one cohesive compositional statement.

The entertainment for the day was undoubtedly the Black Vultures. They were all over the place, along with a Limpkin and it's chicks, not to mention the Gators. I had Gator for lunch! :) Mmmm... tastes like chicken.

The next few pics are of our companions, feathered and leathered, for the day...

It was a good thing that Thursday was so nice because Friday wasn't! I barely finished my morning demo when we were called off of the island we were on by our fearless manager, Maggie. A very nasty storm was blowing in from off shore right over us and prudence dictated that we 'exit' stage right. We did that and then headed back to M Gallery of Fine Art to close out the week with a little demo on photographing art work, Q&A and farewells.

I can't thank the 'crew' at M Gallery of Fine Art enough for doing such a great job in keeping a rather 'scattered' artist/teacher better organized, fed and entertained. Can't wait for the May workshop!!!

"Lido Beach"-oil on board-8x10 © Marc R. Hanson '10
My last demo of the week... cold... windy... stormy! But we saw a pod of dolphins and the park racoons.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Egret - Day 2

Here's today's work on the Egret painting. I spent almost all day on the water, prepping it for the vegetation and reflection work to come. I placed a few pieces of the grasses that will need to be in the painting to get an idea of what they'll do to the painting.
Until the next time...

Will the 'Real' Big Bird please stand up?

I ran out of Canary Yellow to finish the other version, so I decided to wipe out Big Bird and paint the egret instead!

In this pic you are seeing the first layer of paint on the linen finally. There are all kinds and variations of greens including some slightly warmer, some grayer in the background, but you aren't seeing those. It looks black... and it's not... the paint has dried flat. I shot this handheld with a little point and shoot so the photo is at best a close representation of what is there.
Otherwise, the egret, water and reflections are just blocked in. There will be a lot of work on the water in particular, including some grasses, and their reflections, that are surrounding the egret.
So that's where it stand for now... 30x40 on Claessen's AC166

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Big bird painting... New version!

I'm still working on the painting. I think that despite the major psychological battle with FLAX, I'll be OK... don't you???

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Peace in the Studio...

'River's Silence' - oil - 18x36 - © Marc R. Hanson '10
A tranquil place... seems appropriate. ;-)

Concerning the evil flax situation... I've subdued the troublesome beast and saved it for another adventure by giving it a good scraping and wiping down, and then smothering it in a coat of good ol' lead carbonate! Off to the drying rack for it now!!!

Some day I'll give it a reprieve and subject it to another session of flailing hog hair bristles and pigment filled oil. In the meantime, I saved the drawing and have stretched up another, known... 'friendly'... woven flax, field of battle. I'm now in the process of taming the new foe and bringing victory to the studio!!! :-)

More to come...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Piece of My Mind!!!

The view of Marc's burn pile... That linen won't get me again!!!

I'm sharing this with you because this is a demo... and this is part of the process...

Right now I'm sitting here contemplating a drastic move with this painting. I'll explain.

First a warning... DO NOT buy Frederix RIX oil primed linen! That is unless you want a nightmare on your hands.

I already know this, but I have almost 5 yds of this junk and thought that maybe I could make it work. It's one of those linens that was the 'best', when it was primed with lead. I don't know what it's primed with now specifically (some sort of titanium/oil primer), but it's not lead and it SUCKS.

The block in (lot's of opaque and transparent darks) that I painted on it yesterday has not dried, but it looks like a piece of board painted with flat black spray paint! Yet the paint isn't even close to dry or even setting up. This stuff sucks the oil right out of the paint.

~I can take my finger and wipe the pigment, pigment only mind you, right off of the surface!!!! ARRRRGGH!!! ~

Since 1988, I've used about 5 six yard rolls of it, when it was still primed with lead, and... except for the cost $$$$$$... loved it. It has one of the most beautiful weaves of any linen I've tried, and it's strong.

Because of the expense, I hadn't purchased it for a number of years. I finally broke down and purchased a roll last year, painted two paintings with it and thought that it was really difficult to see the paint on. The color kept sinking or changing on me. But I thought that I could 'out paint it' just by brute force and make the negative side of it a non factor, so that's what I stretched up for this egret painting.

Not so!

So... Now I'm faced with fighting this crap for the rest of this egret painting, or chucking it before it drives me nuts, and re-stretching something else to save my sanity... and this painting.

I think I'll go work out at the gym and think about it.

So how's your morning??? ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Big Bird Demo

This will be my first painting using a bird as the primary subject in about 10 years! I have decided to post the steps along the way. In my mind, this is insane because it could be a total failure. Taking risks is what being an artist is all about however... So please join me in my 'risky business', painting a large bird, the Great Egret. I'm calling him 'Big Bird'. That keeps me away from my ornithologically geared past, and instead I have in mind the creative people on Sesame Street. ;-) They had so much fun, and I intend to also.

This first photo is of a couple of small color comps that I did mostly for placement, trying to decide if I wanted this egret front and center in the composition, or setting back into the picture plane. At first I thought that I wanted the bird to set back into the composition, to be more a part of the landscape, not a portrait. I was slightly hesitant to confront an egret that is about half life size on a 30"x40" canvas at first. But the more that I have thought and planned the more confidence I'm gaining in my ability to pull this off. My final composition is now closer to the sketch on the right and I'm happy with that placement.

Big Bird! (temporary title:)... 30x40 on RIX oil primed linen... First wash in just to map out placement.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Car Painting near Menomonie, WI

On Monday Kami and I found ourselves outside of Menomonie, WI, near Downsville, WI, in the middle of some beautiful winter light. We had planned to paint from the car and that turned out to be just the ticket. In the car we have some creature comforts that let us concentrate on painting and not survival skills to keep things from freezing. Both of us do enough of that already the way it is. Taking a break and having some music on the radio, some coffee or tea in the cups and some warmth is welcome to me. We had a great time and the results are below.

'Outside of Menomonie, WI' - 5x7 - gouache © Marc R. Hanson '10

'January Colors' - Oil on linen - 8x10 © Kami Polzin '10
A beautiful little study full of the rich color that we experienced.

And here we are...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sarasota, FL Workshop

I am having a great time in Florida conducting a five day workshop. There is a lot to do and not too much time for the computer but I wanted to post a few pics of what is going on. First... it's colder than it should be here! We've been bundled up in layers, boots, gloves and looking for windbreaks constantly. M Gallery of Art is sponsoring the workshop and it's not a stretch to say that we are being treated in a Royal fashion with coffee, lunch and several dinners all provided for us by Maggie and her staff of eager helpers. They're spoiling us, truth be told. For now, here are a few samples of the experience.

This is the dynamic duo... Chad and Letty. Their counter parts in the feline world, Miss Ping and Mister Pong, a pair of Siamese cats, are more elusive and not on film... yet!

This is who Chad and Letty don't want in the neighborhood... Mr. Snack Attack! We saw this thing at Myakka. The part that you can see, eyes to snout, is about 12" or 13" long. They are telling me that if you multiply that length by 10 you can make a pretty good estimate of it's length... Yikes!

This is Florida??? Boots, hats and coats...

On Sunday we painted Natasha, a beautiful model. I wish that I had done her justice. Natasha is also the one who will get us anything we need while on location and we need a lot! :)

Today, looking for the perfect subject!!!

End of the day in Myakka River State Park on Saturday... GORGEOUS!