Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20, 2014... Acrylic studio paintings.

Happy Spring!  It's greening up here, the gardeners showed up today to take inventory and begin the season.  The winds are up, something that I now know is a near constant this time of year, east of the Front Range in Colorado.  A person can almost tell the time of the day by the winds.  They nearly always kick in right at 12:00 noon.  Painter and friend, Dave Santillanes, a native of the area, told me that last week.  I've been paying attention and Dave is right, noon it is!

Why am I painting winter then?  I'm taking a little break from getting all of the paintings that I sold during February ready to ship.  I have all of these very fresh studies in the studio, and the memory of painting them, that I am still in the middle of churning through from last month.  The painting urge hasn't let up, I'm giving it it's needed fix.  There is nothing better than having fresh studies and the memory of the experience to paint from in the studio... except painting them outside!  This weekend is going to be devoted entirely to packing and shipping all of the art sold.  Thanks again to everyone who purchased a painting, or two, or three.  I'm grateful for that support.  

To further complicate my life, I've been painting with Golden Open acrylics in the studio.  I'm not  sure why, except that I like the solvent free aspect of them, the ability to stop and start at any time on a painting, not having to wait for it to dry or stay wet if need be.  I  think that I'm also overdosing a little bit on solvents and driers like Liquin.  

I'm not complaining, but I've noticed that when I'm using a lot of either of those type of ingredients in my oil painting, which I do often now so that I can better control the drying time, I have some issues with congestion, slight headaches and watery eyes.  My plan is to use the acrylics for awhile to see if that clears up.  So far, I'm already able to see an improvement.  If I don't go nuts trying to get a grip on the acrylic monster, I think it might be a good move.  

Working with them is more like what I like about working with pastels... I can lay down paint/pastel, and very quickly work over it.  Immediately with pastel, almost immediately with acrylics.  Glazes, scumbling, are all great  techniques that I like to use in oil painting too.  My patience is getting shorter though, it takes too long for the oils to be ready for me to do that like I want to.  If I had an area to 'rack up' paintings while they dry for these techniques with the oil paints, I could see working on a number of paintings in stages at a time.  I don't.  If I have 4 paintings done, it's crowded in here, and there's no where to add a rack.  

With the acrylics, the drying times of these newer 'Open' acrylics, work right along with me.  I paint pretty fast normally.  The acrylics are almost begging for the painter to do that with them.  So, they and I, seem to be working pretty well together.  Taming the monster that they are, is really getting used to a process of painting with them on their terms.  Once I do that, I love what they have to offer.  Stay tuned...

What I'm posting here are two paintings painted from the two studies I'm also posting.  That's not always a great idea, but for interest, that's what I'm doing.  Don't think that I am trying to exactly copy the studies, I'm not.  The studio paintings evolve from the studies, as you can see, and are usually more complex.  That's the case with both of these.  Field studies are the soul of the experience, the journal of your time, and are why I paint outside.  The studio painting is a further exploration of that memory and experience.  I like both.  Since the grass is greening up, and the snow is long gone, the only way to explore either of these ideas is to do it in the studio from the studies.  I didn't take any photographs in February of the locations I painted, with a couple of exceptions.  So if I'm going to paint up any of the February paintings, it will have to be done only using those paintings as reference, or the photos of them once they're out of my studio.  

Both of the larger paintings are painted on acrylic primed linen.  "Freeze in the Air" is painted on a Frederix linen called 'Antwerp'.  It's one that I've used a lot of over the years, but it's really pricey.   I mounted it on a cradled birch panel, after first putting down two coats of GAC 100 (A Golden Product) to seal the wood, preventing acid migration into the surface of the acrylic paint.  It's a problem with oils and acrylics, but more of a concern with acrylics.  The moisture in can leach out the impurities from the underlying wood as it dries, pulling them towards the wet paint.  That can cause discoloration in the paint film.  GAC 100 seals the wood, providing a barrier between it an the painting.  I glued down the Antwerp using Lamin-All glue.  

The other painting, "Frozen Hollow", was painted on a stretched Utrecht linen (Type 66J) that I've had for many years.  I used to make my own lead primed panels and stretched supports, with RSG and this linen.  For this painting, I stretched it on some heavy duty bars that I first sealed the edges of with the GAC 100, then sized it with one coat of GAC 400, followed by 2 coats of GAC 100.  The GAC 400 is for stiffening fabric, which is nice because without using rabbit skin glue (RSG), it's hard to get that drum tight stretch on linen.  The GAC 400 helps to replicate that somewhat.  Following a light sanding, I applied 4 coats of acrylic dispersion primer (mistakenly called acrylic gesso, it's not gesso), with light sanding in between coats.  

This was a test of sorts... I learned that I prefer the linen mounted on board, and will continue that way when painting with the acrylics.  It's nice to be able to 'lean into' the painting with p.knives and brushes when it's on the board. Can't do that with the stretched linen.  Plus, the whole process of stretching and prepping the linen from the raw state was time consuming and it didn't give me any particular advantage.  I didn't like painting on it as much as I did the glued down linen. I may continue to use the raw linen (hell of a lot less expensive than pre-primed even though it's acrylic priming) and prime it myself. I didn't notice much difference at all, painting on pre-primed vs my priming it.  I used Golden 'Gesso'.  That 's what they call it, it's acrylic primer. 

Thanks for looking in!

"Freezing Fog #2"
Oil - 8x10

"Frozen Hollow"
Acrylic - 20x24
©Marc R. Hanson 2014

"Freezing Fog #3"
Oil - 8x10

"Freeze in the Air"
Acrylic - 18x24
©Marc R. Hanson 2014


Sue and Spike said...

Enjoyed this post, great work Marc.

Judy P. said...

Greetings from your old haunt MN; I am quite interested in hearing about the Golden Open acrylics- do keep us informed about your experience with them!

Ann Trainor Domingue said...

Love how you work from your on site paintings. Also enjoyed following your winter in CO series of paintings -- very challenging weather, you are a real trooper. I admit it, I'm a fair weather plein air painter. I do most of my work from my own reference pics and sketches which I use to develop simplified more abstracted reality images. Congrats on your successful show--really well done. And I switched to using acrylics as my primary medium about 3 years ago --even my galleries don't see difference and they really have no bias for oils. I add the Open Acrylic medium to my regular acrylics in my studio and use the Open for plein air.

Lyn Boyer said...

Enjoyed your February project. Marc I'm very sensitive to solvents and tried Duo Aquas and other possible solutions but in the end missed my oil paints. I bought a beast - the "IQ Air GC" air filter for solvents. Pricey but the only filter solution I've ever used that keeps my studio completely fume free. Quiet works like a charm, cheap to run. I got congested one day, headachy and realized I'd forgotten to flip it on. So… if you ever long for the 'old days' there's a solution for you :)

Judie Stang said...

I know rules are made to be broken, but I noticed your focal point in each of these acrylic painting is in the center. Was that done by design or is there some other reason you chose that composition?

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to keep working with the acrylics and will write about my thoughts on their use for sure.

Hey Judy P! It's snowing here today... :)

Thanks for sharing that Ann! I bet the suspected bias is more in our minds than in theirs? A good painting can be painted in any medium. Because of the nature of mediums, encaustic, cold wax, acrylic, some of the paintings painted in them, can have a look. I am trying to research methods for both encaustic and cold wax all of the time. Almost all of the examples out there are of non-objective paintings! Very few representational artists use those two in particular. They're out there, but rare.

Maybe acrylic has had some of the same issued? It's quick drying nature doesn't exactly lend itself to doing an Ingre type rendering. Just my thought. It also loses some of the textural and depth of oil paints if not used to be sure some of those traits are in it on a painting. I'm learning ways in my work with it to be sure it has some of those characteristics, but it's not a natural part of the medium. It has to be manipulated so that you can recreate those attributes in it. If you don't experiment with it, just use it as it comes, then it's easy for it to look like "acrylic" specifically.

Being an explorer, I love playing with those things with acrylics. I also love that all I need to paint is paint and water! No fumes of any kind in here anymore. I'm going to attempt some larger paintings with it, will keep updated here.

Thank you Lyn! Yikes, they are pricey. But they must be a great benefit in the studio. Your symptoms sound exactly like what I've been noticing lately. I have not had the oils uncorked for a week now and am really noticing a difference in how I feel at the end of a day. I also notice that I'm not as tired out. I don't mean physically, but almost feeling lethargic by the end of a long day in the studio. I'm convinced that it's the alkyd products, liquin, galkyd, and probably the solvent too.

Hi Judy... Even if I thought that was a "rule" not to be broken, I didn't break it. Run a diagonal from corner to corner on all 4 corners to find 'center'. I will bet you a cabin ;-) that my focal points are 'not centered'!!! One of the very first things I ever learned about composition as an illustration major, hell, as kid learning about art, was that a "safe place" for a focal area or point, is "Slightly off center". That is if you want to be sure someone gets your point, without playing with them too much and making them work harder for it, then place the brightest bright/darkest dark/sharpest edge/most intense color/most defined drawing... etc... near center! No, that is not saying 'centered', near center.
I have done that in both of these, placed the buildings and the apex of the road and the most defined parts... Near center. They're not 'centered'.

As to the 'rule'... I walked into George Inness' studio, Olana, up the Hudson River Valley in NY, and saw moonrises, moonsets, sunrises, sunsets... all with the horizon line centered and a moon or sun bullseyed in each little study. A buddy of mine and I were scratching our heads because we both avoided that as a 'no-no'. Then it hit me... He was "painting tranquility, serenity, peace, calm, sit back and meditate on the beauty of this, don't go anywhere, look at this moment of this day"... conceptual ideas!!! The best way to keep someone calm and not moving around your painting, which he didn't want in that time of day, a peaceful time, is to bullseye the focal POINT. He broke that rule all to hell... and it worked! Lesson learned...

Kath Reilly said...

Liquin and some of the other solvents makes me feel sick and headached. I ended up buying an Austin air cleaner with a VOC filter which I run when I paint . It made a huge difference. It was expensive but worth it.

Lee said...

Thanks for this post. You have such a nice, easy, but very articulate way of writing about your days and process that just reading them gives me the impression of a conversation. It is in keeping with your lovely, deceptively 'effortless' manner of painting. I appreciate all the technical information which you share as well as your personal process. Years ago, after working in a small studio space with very poor ventilation for almost five years straight, I developed a headache that did not ever go away. After about three months of this constant pain I found a neurologist who determined that I had developed a neurotoxicity to the materials I was working with- oils and turpentine. It took years of not being around those materials for the headaches to finally disappear except for a now and again migraine, which I had never had before. The thing is I love the smell of oils and turpentine. I think there is something significant about one's sensory attraction to certain media, for instance, I have never enjoyed charcoal or pastel because of the tactile sensation of the powder and therefore, avoid those. After about a fifteen year hiatus from working with oils, I began using them again full time, but with Gamsol and Glakyd, and being much more careful to always work with open air ventilation. My understanding is that some of the toxicity issues are a matter of an accumulation of exposure. I will be quite interested in finding how you continue to find solutions to these problems. Your work is breath taking.... I have no doubt that whatever media you work with, the results will be beautiful. I dismissed using acrylics years ago because they seemed very 'plastic' to me and I did not like the way they smelled, nor the way they moved on the canvas. I imagine they have improved a great deal since that time. This post encourages me to give them another try. Thank you Mark....

Darrell Anderson said...

Marc....the new Gambling solvent free gel for oils is very nice to work with and the drying time is greatly reduced. Absolutely no smell and no solvents...don't know how they do it.

Shawn Shea said...

Marc- Love these paintings. Perfectly captured that "frozen" look. Being outside "in it" all the time certainly informs one's work. I live adjacent to Two Ponds NWR so I make a point of trekking out in it every day. Three miles or more. Some days just observe, some days paint, some days take photos, ALWAYS awake and observing. Really appreciate your blog and your imparting all your wisdom and expertise and the "essence" of who you are. THANKS!