Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crossover Skills

I recently recommended an article in a watercolor magazine to one of my students. She asked in an incredulous voice how it could possibly be any use to her as she paints in oils. Well now, that got me thinking. I’ve run across that attitude before and it’s time to do my part to end this particular prejudice.

It doesn’t matter if your medium of choice is watercolor, oil, water miscible oil, acrylic, alkyd, casein, tempera, encaustic, or Genesis paints. You are still painting. You use many of the same skills regardless of the paint. Yes, there are differences but artists employ the same principles of composition, color, value, texture and perspective in all painting. Even sculptors, photographers, cake decorators, garden landscapers, stained glass artists, floral arrangers and architects use those same principles. You can apply what you learn from all the other disciplines to your own work. In fact you should make a point of learning all you can if you wish to grow as an artist.

I find that a familiarity with sculpting lends a greater sense of depth, form and dimension to my painting. My knowledge of color mixing comes in handy when I’m working with polymer clay. An understanding of complementary colors is useful in my work with textiles and jewelry design. I enjoy studying the work of other artists in various fields. I get ideas everywhere and everything I learn enriches every form of art I do.

Of course, as long as you are painting you’ll probably be using a brush (at least part of the time). Certainly many of the brushstrokes we use are applicable to other painting media. Painting is painting after all.

You might also get ideas about new surfaces to use. There are new materials that accept a wide variety of media too. Perhaps you’d like to try handling your acrylics like watercolors and painting on paper instead of canvas. Both acrylics and oils can be used on metal and you can get wonderful effects with that. The possibilities are endless.

Watercolor and oils can both be transparent mediums so some of the techniques work for both. Thin down oils and use them on paper. The oil will bleed but the effects can be interesting. They can be opaque as well. Try painting gouache thickly like oils. Explore making marbled papers. That’s done with oil paints floated on water. Play!

Some media can be mixed. Try using colored pencil and watercolor together. Use acrylics under your oils. Try pastels with watercolor. Experiment. Learn. Create with abandon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Care and Hanging of Artwork

To transport, put your painting in a plastic bag, then wrap with padding for protection. Use towels, blankets, bubble wrap or other padding. Wrap the artwork in plastic first because lint and fibers from fabric may stick to the varnish.

Do not place anything on the surface of your painting. You may mar the surface or the weight can cause it to warp.

A hot car is a dangerous place for your finished artwork. Avoid leaving it in the heat of either the passenger compartment or the trunk. Varnish can blister.

Paintings on canvas are vulnerable to denting, stretching or tearing. Never lean them against a table corner or any other sharp object.

Never display paintings (any media) in direct sunlight. Colors may fade and art under glass may overheat.

Do not hang your art over or too close to a heat source. This includes radiators, vents and fireplaces. Heat, smoke and ashes can damage your artwork.

Damp or cold locations can also be harmful. Think twice before you hang your work in bathrooms, kitchens and porches.

Don’t put water on the surface of any finished painting.

Do not touch the surface. Oils and acids from your fingers can cause damage or be difficult to remove.

Dust, if necessary, with a clean, dry, soft brush or lint free cloth.