Category Archives: art

Powerlines Feb 1 2015

I’ve been finishing up some oil pieces and I think this one came our particularly well.


Often I’m frustrated with the presentation of art. There are some fabulous paintings out there- which simply cannot be presented as a simple image on a screen of piece of paper. A good painterly oil piece is part image part sculpture- that you touch with your sight. Just as you would run the soft tips of your fingers over your lover’s lips, or the needles of a cactus.

One of the most poignant examples that is always in the back of my head is Hans Hofmann’s “Into Outer Space”. This painting resides at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk. This is an ugly painting on the screen, no, hideous. But to see it up close, inspires awe.

So I want to show people a little bit of what an artist sees when they look at a painting. What I often tell my friends is, I go into a museum or gallery, and I don’t look at the art- I step right up to it, my nose inches away. And if I like what I see- I step back and take in the wholet thing. Otherwise it’s a waste of my time.

So here are some detail shots.. of what we’re looking at when we paint, or when we are taking in a piece that may suggest we should step back..

IMG_6303 IMG_6304 IMG_6305 IMG_6306 IMG_6307 IMG_6308 IMG_6309 IMG_6310 IMG_6311

Best Charcoal Pencil

I’ve made a transition in my art fom graphite to charcoal.
I have learned a few things that make the difference (at least for me) between being comfortable with charcoal and simply suffering from it.
My specialty is line work. Not all charcoal pencils are the same.

Wood: Ever sharpened a pencil and found the wood splinter- be too soft or too hard to sharpen properly?
In my breakdown, wood means that. That you can easily sharpen the pencil- you won’t waste too much of it.
Material quality: What you have after you put down the line. What you have on the surface- how easy it is to move around, how well it stays on the surface, quality of pigment, etc.
Quality: overall desireability of product.

General’s Charcoal
Wood: good
Material quality: poor
Quality: poor

PRIMO (General Pencil Company)
Wood: good
Material quality: good
Quality: best
The PRIMO line of charcoal pencils is amazing. You must have the whites as well, they are perfectly opaque. These are the best pencils to sharpen. I suggest you use mainly the HB- the B pencils are very soft- and you will find yourself sharpening endlessly. Found this out the hard way. You can actually use a good pencil sharpener to keep a decent tip, other charcoal pencils would crumble.
When you look for these you will also find the PRIMO Elite Grande 5000, be aware that this pencil is broader than the regular pencils, and you will need a larger pencil sharpener for it, which are available. This larger charcoal pencil is nice but more expensive, stick to the regular size.

Gioconda (Koh I Noor)
Wood: poor
Material quality: good
Quality: good
Sharpening with a standard pencil sharpener works half the time. You need a razor blade to keep a fine tip on these. This brand also carries a Sepia Dark 8804 and Sepia Light 8803 that I recomend as compliments to your regular charcoal work. I can tell using this line of charcoal pencils that the pigment/material quality is very high, but the wood used is not very good.

Other materials you will be using:

Kneaded eraser.
Standard rubber eraser.
Small eraser.
Toned paper.

Painting Clouds

So, I’ve got this crazy idea- these pictures I took years ago of lamp posts, I’m going to turn them into a small series of paintings.
But I realize I am going to have to learn to paint clouds.
But, Leo! You already know how to paint!
Now, now.. Let’s not forget the buddhist mind- to have beginner’s mind. So- I must learn.

I’ve been looking up some tutorials online on how to do this. And I want to share some of what I’ve found to be useful.

  • Tim Gagnon has a good tutorial. What I like about this video is that it’s slow. So he gives you a good idea of process. His material here is acrylic. Pay attention to his start off with a white underpainting to spread the coming layers- very interesting.
  • Wilson Bickford‘s demo is with oil paint. I don’t find his cloud demo to end up terribly interesting. But what I find precious are some of his pointers. For example, the physics of clouds and the sky, and how this changes from horizon towards the top of the sky.


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