Archive for January, 2009

Oil Pastel and Museum Board

My favorite support for working with oil pastels, (other than handmade paper) is Museum Board. Awhile back, Angela Finney asked me what museum board actually was. So here is my reply, only with a few more facts thrown in, instead of stuff off the top of my head.

What is it?

Museum board looks like matboard and is made by matboard companies. It can be used for matting purposes, archival framing or as a work surface. It is 100% cotton fibers pressed into a board the same overall dimensions as matboard (32×40.)

Museum board looks like matboard and is made by matboard companies.

It comes is varying thickness’s like 2ply (similar to 140# hot press watercolor paper) 4 ply (slightly thicker than matboard) 6ply, 8 ply (very rigid, thicker than 2 sheets matboard) and also a 12ply which I’ve never used.

It comes in a several colors: grays, tans, beiges, white, off-white, black and rouge. Both Bainbridge and Crescent mat companies makes around 25 different shades. I’ve tried the rouge and grays, but really prefer the white. Because Oil Pastels aren’t completely opaque some of the board color effects the OP color. (Though I imagine color pencil artists would be more knowledgable as how to work on colored surfaces than I.) Unlike matboard the color is solid throughout.

It costs more than matboard. I think on average it costs me $12-14 per sheet, (for 4ply, 2ply is less and 8ply more) where acid free matboard cost me $6-9 per sheet. (I’m talking the cost or a retailer, meaning if you purchased it at your local artshop or frameshop, it may well be twice that.)

Why I use it.
I mostly use the 4 ply because the 8ply is a bugger to cut even with a matcutter. I prefer museum board to matboard because it is considerably more rigid (despite being a similar thickness) and to be honest it sounds sooooo much better on artshow applications. (Wordage is very important for these kinds of things.)

Which sounds better?

Oil pastel on matboard.
Oil pastel on Museum Board.

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Fresh Start For My Chicken Painting

Subtle But Important Differences. So here is the new painting. It looks quite similar to the other I admit, even though I did move my bird over about 1 1/2 inches.

The photos are of roosters from the house (on a farm) that we rented when we lived in Rapid City. They weren’t ours, (nor were the peacocks, ducks, geese, Llama, horses, dog, cats or giganto goat.) But we got to enjoy them as ours, without all the feed and vet bills. (Sweet)

Evil Chickens and Killer Goats
They had about 20 or 30 of these type of chickens with about 5 roosters. The white one here is my main reference. He was pure evil. A nasty bird who dug his spurs into everything else on the farm including the dogs and cats. Eventually he disappeared under questionable circumstances. (The actual owners of the birds really hated him.)

Frankly, their goat was a menace who needed to disappear under questionable circumstances. More than once I pondered forgetting to apply the brakes when he was in front of the truck. (never did of course, not in my nature. But if it were?)

It was in my nature however, to whack him in the head with a shovel (as hard as I could) whenever he was trying to kill one of my dogs. (Bear in mind, he was the size of a small horse. No kidding. He could hit with the power of a freight train.) Okay enough about the goat. It’s been over 10 years and he still gets my dander up.

At any rate, I really liked this white rooster because he was terribly showy. (Hey . . . what can I say, I’m a visual person.) The gold and black guy to the left may be the color direction that I am going towards in my painting. I haven’t made any firm decisions about that yet.

I’m not sure why my photos got so blown out from scanning. I tried to alter them in photoshop, but there really is no adding information to a blown out image. All I can say is my reference photos are gorgeous. Too bad I couldn’t show them as they really are.

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Chicken Painting WIP

To tell the truth I was a little hesitant to post this because I’m not sure whether I’m going to finish it.

The more I look at it the more I think the whole image should be shifted to the right a bit. Which of course means starting over.

The good thing though, is since part of my process is to do the drawing on a regular piece of paper, then trace it off onto the handmade paper, means starting over doesn’t mean re-drawing everything from scratch.

Oh . . . and the wild hairdo on my chicken . . . is real. Or at least, the farm we lived on in South Dakota had dozens of these pom-headed types. I just love that mad scientist look.

I’ll post a few photos with my next wip. I really do think I need to shift my bird over. (Heavy Sigh) Good thing I made 100 more sheets of paper.

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My Squidoo Pages

So once again I am taking a me day. 3 in one week, a new record, (by like 2 days.) And tomorrow I have art group so again will be away. (I’m aflutter with anticipation as Connie is bringing all my handpaper pages to me. They had to dry thoroughly before they could be handled, so they have been decorating her basement for awhile.)

I have been noticeably absent from blogging lately, mostly due to the creation of some Squidoo lenses. For those of you unfamiliar it is kinda like wikipedia but a whole lot more commercialized.

I’m not so much interested in the commercialization stuff (and frankly was a little disappointed in some of my search results coming up with pretty much pages full of ads with no “real” content) but I am interested in expanding my web prescence and as I said previously I wanted to keep the blog posts that are of an informational or tutorial nature within easy access. (see sidebar)

Surprisingly, despite the fact the most everything has already been written in a blog post, it still seems to take 1-3 hours to create a lens. (A lens means the same thing as a page. Why do they call them lenses? According to Squidoo, “to be difficult.”)

Looking around some people have like 500 lenses and have only been a part of Squidoo for a year or two. (Maybe that’s why there are so many advertisment pages posing as content.) I should say I’ve only done a couple of searches, you know like oil pastel artist, animal artist and horse artist. But for those topics, not much out there. Hey maybe that’s why I’m there now. To fill the need.

At any rate, I did sketch out another critter to be done on the handmade paper. And no, it’s not a cow or a horse. Maybe if all the stars align correctly in the heavens I will go in and work on it on Sunday and post a picture or two then.

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Heavy Traffic: the good kind

‘Til The Cows Come Home
Oil Pastel on Arches 140# Hot Press WC Paper

Mark 2 things off my list
So I just got right on task with my 2009 goals and took 2 whole days completely off. I didn’t go into the gallery (Mike did) or work on any art. I didn’t read or answer any email. And I didn’t work on anything blog related (thus the blog silence.)

What I did do was shlep around the house in lounge wear, ate more than I should have, drank copious amount of Diet Coke and played the PS2 until I was bleary eyed. (Ah good times, good times.)

And the other thing?
The other thing I accomplished and can mark as done, is I made my first Squidoo lens. (It is pretty much the exact same thing as my post dealing with making handmade paper.)

For some time now I had been thinking about all the effort I put into some posts and how all that information just scrolls off the screen and is pretty much lost to obscurity.

Making lenses however, keeps that information available, (or it will when I add the links to my sidebar.) So anyone wanting to review any of my tutorials has an easy way to find and access them. Now I just have to do the rest of my lens worthy posts.

What’s this about traffic?
The other good reason for creating lenses is that (in theory) they will generate traffic to the blog. Which in turn will (in theory) generate traffic to my website. Which of course will lead to the final goal of exposing myself (meaning my artwork, in case you were wondering) to more people, some of who may buy. (Frankly, I think artfairs are easier.)

Looking over the numbers this year, we’ve had a little over 20% growth in traffic to my website Wild Faces Gallery. Much of that (though not all) can be directly attributed to the blog. So what’s next after I get more traffic to the blog? Why of course, I’ll need to generate traffic to the lenses and that’s where Twitter comes in. Shesh! No wonder people can easily spend all of their free time online.

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Once Yearly Butt kicking.
Another year has slipped by and I find myself shifting from my usual comforting, supportive role, into a more cantankerous mood. It’s time again for the once yearly butt kicking. This is certainly not aimed at everyone, or at any one in particular.

This is for all those who want “something,” (in this instance, I am talking about artists and their art related business resolutions, though it’s certainly applicable to other things as well) but just can’t quite get up the motivation to do it.

Why do so many people fail to achieve the goals that they set for themselves? Goals are nothing more than a commitment to change a behavior. (Ahhhh . . . and there’s your answer.)

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an aspiring artist say, “I want to be an artist. All I want is to be able to paint all day”.
My usual answer is “You and me both, honey.”

We as artistic people, on the whole like comfort. (change is decidedly uncomfortable.) We like easy. (Change is rarely easy.) We would really like it if someone attended to all those pesky little things (like marketing and accounting) that we would prefer not to do. After all, we’re artists, not bankers. (Am I right? Someone give me an “Amen.”)

But here is the hard cold truth. There is on a very rare occasion, an artist through little or no effort of their own, make it BIG. (I’m guessing you have a better chance of getting struck by lightening or befriending a badger.) For most of us, any success is through hard work and tenacity.

That doesn’t mean you won’t get your feeling hurt, or you can’t throw yourself a pity party from time to time. But what will separate you from all those others bemoaning their fate, is that you will get back up and keep trying. If something doesn’t work, try something new.

Reasons for Failure

  • Comfort and Difficulty. Two sides of the same coin really. We like the way we do things, but we still want better results. Whats that old adage? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, but expecting different results.
  • Worn Out or In A Rut Are you feeling like you’ve been doing the same thing so long, in the same way, that you can’t change? Well here’s the thing. The world around you continually changes. Unless you change with it your artistic career will suffer a slow death.
  • Denial Making excuses for failures, like “the economy.” While a recession may be a fact, it is also a fact that many artists are flourishing right now, while other languish. Who do you want to be?
  • Lack of Commitment. Know what your limits are, but also push yourself to be better and do more. Anything less may not be enough during these trying times.

The only really good reason to not follow through on a resolution is because you have tried it and it didn’t work or it didn’t meet expectations. Even with this, it’s failure might have more to do with implementation that the actual idea.

How To Succeed

  • Try something new. If your asking yourself why? See Comfort and Difficulty above.
  • Create a list of changes (resolutions/goals whatever you prefer to call them) you’d like to make in 2009, Set a few easier more achievable goals. Success breeds confidence which in turn brings success. (Nice little cycle of life thing going there.)
  • Rank them in importance. Then add baby steps (to keep it from seeming too overwhelming,) on how to achieve the desired change.
  • Be Realistic. Growth often takes times. Create a timeline.
  • Post the list where you will see it often.
  • Now do the work and be tenacious!

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