Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'July Mill Pond'

Here is a studio piece just completed that I painted pretty much verbatim from the field study.

'July MIll Pond' - oil - 18x24 © Marc R. Hanson '10

And the study painted a couple of July's ago-

'Balsam Branch Mill Pond' - oil - 11x14 © Marc R. Hanson '10

Sunday, March 28, 2010

'Labor Day'... An oil and the pastel field study.

'Labor Day' 20x24, oil on linen © Marc R. Hanson '10
This is a studio piece painted from the pastel field study that is pictured below. The original study was my only reference for this and as a study has been in the studio since last September. I couldn't let go of something in the pastel that I knew I wanted to paint eventually. But I just couldn't realize that vision until just recently. The pastel has a quality that I wanted to achieve in the oil painting... color and texture that moves back and forth between the forms, color that floats over the forms, and a more neutral color quality that I find sophisticated, and wanted to keep.

In the study I loosely indicated the pots of geraniums that were set out for the Labor Day celebration. They, and some little indications of a few grave markers, kept drawing me back into the idea. I decided that what I wanted was a large park like setting with the lead in to the middle distance where I would indicate the cemetery and a few of the figures. That seemed like a peaceful and was not an 'in your face' painting of a graveyard. I think this way I was able to capture the peaceful nature of people honoring their passed relatives and still keep it a pleasant scene. Sometimes painting cemeteries can be a little macabre just because of the nature of the subject.

'Labor Day' pastel, 9x10.5 © Marc R. Hanson '10

And a couple of closer views of the middle distance and the figures.

Monday, March 15, 2010

'Snow Moon'... February 27, 2010

'Snow Moon' - oil on linen, 30x40 © Marc R. Hanson '10

This is a painting that I painted last week after a photo taken on February 27th of this year, a 99% moon, and a study painted on site last Saturday March 6th. I painted the study knowing that I was going to do the larger piece, and that it would be of a different sky. On March 6th there wasn't a full moon but the study gave me information about the scene that was needed, and that the photo did not provide. In this larger version I wanted a larger open sense of space than what I painted on the location study.

Some close ups...

This has been posted earlier today too, but for reference here it is again...

'March Evening' - oil, 12x16

From the weekend

A little outside painting time was stolen from the 'other things to be done' list this weekend. On Saturday Kami and I went up to Crex Meadows, a 30,000 acre state wildlife area that is mostly marsh. We've painted here a number of times in the past and enjoy the solitude and wildness of it. We were treated to Trumpeter Swans pairing up. At one point I was about to paint 'the swans' into the distance and Kami started laughing because what I thought were swans was actually...'ice'. Those swans really look like ice chunks!!!

Saturday was 'Windy' and chilly so we made it a car painting event. Results were... we painted! Neither of us were thrilled with our results, though I liked the painting Kami did because she grabbed ahold of a nice color in the light that only lasted a brief period of time before it reverted to 'gray'. I had my head in the weeds and didn't see that so I ended up painting the scene out the front window as a pretty bleak, cold subject.

'Saturday at Crex Meadow' - oil, 9x12 © Marc R. Hanson '10

The next day we decided that 62ºF and sunny with no wind was just too good a day not to go out and get some more painting time in. This time it was on the ground, not in the front seat of my truck, with nothing on top but light weight clothing! It was NICE!

'Daylight Savings' - oil, 14x18 © Marc R. Hanson '10

And just for fun, I posted this one last Saturday. We went from all of that snow a week ago, March 6th, to yesterday! Hard to believe that kind of a quick change in the landscape.

'March Evening' - oil, 12x16 © Marc R. Hanson '10

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seriously... Rags!!!

This picture of a metal fabrication plant fire is here to make a point... OILY RAGS MAY CAUSE A FIRE!!!

I took this photo of the fire several years ago in Cannon Falls, MN.

As painters we constantly need to wipe our brushes on something to clean them, a dilemma on several levels. The first dilemma is and should be safety first. Any combustible material that is saturated with an evaporative solvent or oil is a fire hazard waiting to become a fire if not handled properly.

This info is from a Colorado Fire Dept. web site...

"What Is Spontaneous Combustion?
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines spontaneous combustion as the outbreak of fire without application of heat from an external source. This combustion can occur when flammable matter like oily rags, damp hay, leaves, or coal is stored in bulk. Spontaneous combustion, sometimes referred to as spontaneous ignition, begins when a combustible object is heated to its ignition temperature by a slow oxidation process. Oxidation is a chemical reaction involving the oxygen in the air around us gradually raising the inside temperature of something (like a pile of rags) to the point at which a fire starts.

Spontaneous Combustion Can Cause Fires
While spontaneous combustion isn't a common occurrence, it can be disastrous. Spontaneous combustion causes major fire losses each year. One of the most common scenarios is when floors or woodwork are being refinished and stain-soaked rags are left in a heap on the floor. Something as simple as not storing these rags properly can cause major fire damage.

In fact, the way combustible materials are stored has a lot to do with whether or not they'll spontaneously combust. For example, while an oil-soaked rag stored in a pail could heat up enough to burst into flames, the same oily rag laid flat to dry would probably have sufficient airflow to prevent heat buildup. Similarly, if the oily rag was placed in a tightly sealed jar, it most likely would not have sufficient air to allow the oxidation process to occur. That's why it's a good idea to look around your garage, storage shed, and yard on a regular basis to ensure that all flammable materials are properly stored. "

These thoughts are my own, I'm not suggesting that anyone take my information as the correct way. There is a plethora of information on the web concerning the safe use and disposal of oily rags and spontaneous combustion. Please read about it if you aren't familiar with the issue BEFORE you use rags of any kind, paper towels included, for cleaning up your oils and paints.

One product that will take care of the paint that we want to clean off of our brushes is paper towels; a paper product that is not only getting expensive, but that also results in a lot of 'throw away' waste that doesn't do much for making me feel like I'm being conscious of our natural resources in my painting methods and materials. I would guess that it's safe to say that most of us use paper towels, they're convenient.

The other, older solution is to use the old fashioned 'RAG'. I'll admit that I was watching a Morgan Weistling DVD, he uses rags, and that got me to thinking about what I use to clean those brushes. I decided to give rags another shot and am happy that I did. I'm not going back.

The affordability and safety of rags are what I started thinking about. Rags need to be absorbent, cheap, and as I realized, reusable. I have been buying them, terry cloth wash clothes at a local retailer, 18 for $4.00. But this summer I'll be hitting garage and rummage sales for T-Shirts, towels and flannel sheets that are CHEAP. There are a bunch of different sources for rags that are so much cheaper than paper towels. The paper towel expense is like throwing away money, use them up, the investment is gone. I know, it's part of the cost of the painting. Hey, cut that cost and make more money on the sale!!!

Rags, on the other hand, will last for many, many uses and do not eat up any our precious natural resources. Yes, it takes land to grow cotton, there's always a trade off but that's one that is less critical in my eyes than the overuse of our national forests for paper products.

Then there's safety. To solve the issue with paper towels I used one of those omnipresent plastic grocery bags for each painting session and it went to the outside garbage can, away from the house because they can still combust in there, at the end of every single day or painting session.

There are special fire safe cans, called Red Cans, that are made specifically for disposing of oily rags. You still need to empty that nightly.

So what to do with cotton rags then??? I ran across a Q&A site for 'garage heads', people who spend a lot of their time working on cars in garages, that had a great solution that I'm using. I'll mention that one following this...

Another site was for woodworkers who use a lot of rags to stain with oil based stains and solvents. Their solution is to use a 'drying rack' that allows the rags to be hung, not touching the other rags or themselves, with complete air circulation all around them. If the air is moving sufficiently around the rags, the air carries away the heat that does build up until the oil or solvent is completely innocuous, and the fire hazard is subdued. This is a pretty good solution, but I would like to be able to clean the rags too so that I can reuse them and not have to purchase more very often. $$$ Savings$$$

Other information suggests putting the rags in an airtight can with a lid, covering them with water and then taking them to a hazardous waste center for disposal. Again, safe but the disposal of them means that they can't be resused.

The solution that I am using, and the one that made the most sense to me for my needs, is from the 'garage head' Q&A site. They suggest that the rags be washed in a washing machine with 'SIMPLE GREEN'. Simple... but I am not about to wash my oily rags in the same washing machine as my oily painting clothes!!! ;-) My clothes aren't that dirty, just kidding. Not in my washing machine though.

What I do is this... At the end of a session, I put the rag(s) (I usually only need one rag per session) into a lidded, one gallon ice cream pale, full of concentrated 'SIMPLE GREEN' for an overnight soaking. In the morning I take them out, rinse in the sink with hot water and PRESTO.... they're clean and ready to be hung up or laid out to dry in preparation for another painting session!

I wondered then about the waste water from doing that. I'm comfortable with it for several reasons. Any water from the washing machine, sink, car washing in the drive way... is gray water and needs to be considered as eventually impacting our water supply. Not that I am happy that 'any' residue is present at all, I'm not. But I am comfortable in that the amount of residue from cleaning these rags is minute compared to what runs off of a driveway when the car gets washed. In a perfect world, neither would result in any run off.

On top of that, I'm using about 8 rolls of paper towels a week less! That's a lot of wood product saved.

If you made it all of the way through this post, you are one SERIOUS artist! Thanks for reading. I hope that it helps you keep your studio safe, and that you find an alternative to paper towels a good thing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Workshop Schedule 2010

2010 Workshops...

Here are the locations and dates-

May 15 & 16, 2010
2 Day Plein Air Landscape Workshop

Zumbrota, MN
Contact: Marie- Crossings at Carnegie

May 24-28, 2010
5 Day Plein Air to Studio Landscape Workshop

Sarasota, FL
Contact: M Gallery of Fine Art

July 15-17, 2010
3 Day Plein Air Landscape Workshop

Fish Creek, WI - Door County
Contact: Peninsula Art School

August 9-13, 2010
5 Day '4th Annual' Taylors Falls Plein Air Workshop

Taylors Falls, MN
Contact: Marc R. Hanson Workshops

Saturday, March 6, 2010

'March Evening'

'March Evening' oil, 12x16 © Marc R. Hanson '10
Ran out tonight for what should have been a magnificent reddish sundown on the snow. But... of course Mother Nature had other plans. A cloud bank ran interference in the last minutes of the game and cut my intended light off despite my pleading. I'm working up a 30x40 of a scene from this same location, but from last week when we had a full moon. I wanted to get that last minute light to the east. This will be a big help regardless. I spent about an hour on this one. IF the light had come, I would have been altering color at lightning speed for another 15 minutes I imagine.