In October I went on a painting trip with 14 other painter buddies to Utah. For a week we explored places like Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Monument Valley, and the Colorado River canyon as it flows into Moab, UT. The weather greeted us with some beautiful days, some extremely windy days with gusts above 50mph, and a little snow on the last day.
Below are some of the field studies from my portfolio.
'The Precipice, The Wind' - oil - 11x14 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'The Point' - oil - 10x8 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'Canyonlands Vista' - oil - 11x14 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'Canyonlands NP #1' - oil - 8x10 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'Arched' - oil - 8x10 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'Arches NP #1' - oil - 8x10 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'Along The Colorado' oil - 8x10 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
'From Their Home' - acrylic - 8x10 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
The next few paintings are some recent winter studies from Colorado.
'New Fluff' - oil - 8x10 Marc R Hanson 2013
'Frozen Golden Ponds' - oil - 9x12 Marc R Hanson copyright 2013
I'm sharing a poem that is a new one to me, that's no surprise, but I'm surprised that I've never run across this beautiful poem in my years as a bird painter. It would have helped... Jacques Prevert addressed the poem to Elsa Henriquez who illustrated the front jacket of his book of poetry. "To Paint a Bird's Portrait" Jacques Prevert to Elsa Henriquez Paint first a cage with the door open next paint something pretty something simple something lovely something of use to the bird then put the canvas near a tree in a garden in the woods or in a forest hide behind the tree say nothing don’t move… Sometimes the bird comes quickly but it can just as well take many years before deciding Don’t be disheartened wait wait years if need be the pace of the bird’s arrival bearing no relation to the success of the painting When the bird comes if it comes keep very still wait for the bird to enter the cage and once it has gently shut the door with the brush then paint out the bars one by one taking care not to touch any of the bird’s feathers Next paint the tree’s portrait choosing the loveliest of its branches for the bird paint likewise the green leaves and fresh breeze the sun’s scintillation and the clamor of crickets in the heat of summer and then wait until the bird decides to sing If the bird does not sing that’s a bad sign A sign the painting is no good but if it sings that’s a good sign a sign you can sign Then you pull out very gently one of the bird’s feathers and you write down your name in a corner of the painting.
I'm still exploring the acrylics, and mixing it up with some oil/alkyds too. I don't mean that I'm mixing alkyd/oil and acrylic... I mean I'm painting with them all at different times! I've had some great comments on the previous post and plan to reply to those soon. My brushes have been smoking from the friction of painting so much.
Here are a couple of the latest pieces... One oil that I painted wanting it to dry fast so that I could add some milky glazes and over painting. So I used some alkyds, in addition to my normal mixing of Griffon Alkyd white with my Utrecht Titanium white in a 50/50 mix to aid in drying. But it still took two days to dry enough to be able to do what I wanted to do to it... hence the acrylics that I posted in the previous post. I could use all alkyd paints and I'm sure it would dry right up. But I only have a few, and alkyd white by itself, is weak in it's pigment strength. The only way for me to get enough opacity from it is to mix it with my normal titanium, as mentioned above. And then it doesn't dry fast enough!
It finally did dry, and yesterday I finished it up. Then I decided to do a little larger acrylic, the painting below, a 12x16. This is painted on a SourceTek panel with Claessens 12TS acrylic primed cotton. I really like the weave of this cotton compared to most cotton canvas. I coated the factory prime with a coat of Golden Matte Medium, to help cut the absorbency and to help keep the paint on the panel wet longer. Seemed to work pretty well. Once again, the only negative in working with this acrylic, is the flattening out of the paint as it dries. I take great pains to build a painting from thin to thick... and love that contrast of dimensional quality when the painting is on the wall. With the acrylics... that's a moot point. I even tried using some Golden heavy body White, and some molding paste. On the weave of the cotton, I still can't get the effect that I'm looking for. On primed board, it's better.
With that, I'll post these latest two... thanks for looking.
Happy Friday! This is a short blog post about my recent adventures with the Golden 'Open Acrylic' paints. I've painted with acrylics since before art school, but in art school we used them often for assignments and for our own paintings. I think the brands I used were Hyplar (a Grumbacher product) and Liquitex. Then as I entered my career and was painting paintings of birds, acrylics were a very common medium that many wildlife artists used, and use still. I tried, using watery glazes and acrylic primed hardboard. I will admit that they were nice to use for rendering details of feathers and vegetation in a bird painting, and several of my bird paintings in acrylic were published by my publisher, Wild Wings, Inc in Lake City, MN.
But I was never very happy using them... they seemed like the medium that you could paint forever and ever with and never finish... because you could instantly and constantly change the paintings... forever! Yet I've always felt that they just might be the 'ideal' medium for a painter. Just think, no solvents other than water, you can paint on nearly anything that the acrylics will bind to, so no need for fancy or toxic primers. Brushes could be washed out with soap and water, and you better be sure to wash them out or they're toast! Imagine walking into the field to paint, and you can drink the same thing that you wash your brushes out with, and that you thin your paint with!
As my painting life evolved into one of spending more time outside in the field painting, than in the studio painting, about once a year I would haul out the acrylics to give them a shot in the field. I could usually get one decent painting, then one that was beginning to give me fits, followed by one more that usually became a Frisbee! That would be it, the acrylics would be put away, until my Cub Scouts would need to paint something, or the boys would need them for a school project. Then the following spring, I'd dig them up again and go through the ritual once more.
The two biggest enemies of artists using acrylics, at least this artist, has been the Value shift that happens when they dry... frustrating as heck. And that they set so fast that you have a hard time adjusting edges and subtle transitions with them.
This was my routine for years. Then about 7 years ago or so, an Australian company, Chroma, introduced Atelier 'Interactive Acrylic' paint. It had a longer open working time than traditional acrylics, there were various additives that would extend that time, shorten that time, or just close it off altogether. Being into about 27 years of being interested in these quirky paints called acrylics, I purchased a palette of the Atelier Interactive acrylics. My results were a little better than in previous attempts at it in the field, but these still dried to quickly for me to seriously pursue them. In addition to that, there were so many 'sprays' and mediums to add to control them, that I lost interest. They're still sitting in my studio in a box.
Then a few years ago, not sure how many, but probably about 5 or 6, Golden the acrylic paint manufacturer, introduced their version of this class of acrylic. Their line is called 'Open Acrylics'. I have a penchant for self inflicted, art supply frustration, so I bought a palette of these paints to try. For some reason, they've sat... probably out of my own fear of failure with them after such a long history of 'wanting' them to work for me. Until about a month ago...
I decided that I wanted to do something a little different one day when heading out to paint. It was a really chilly and windy morning, so I decided it would be a 'paint from the car' day. Usually, I would use oils, or gouache, when car painting. But this day I wanted to use something that I could paint on a canvas board that I clamped to the steering wheel. Light bulb??? Why not take the acrylics along and give them a shot?
To my pleasant surprise, I found that I could work the Golden Open Acrylics as long as I needed to to get the painting done, and the color and value shift didn't happen... Wow! This was interesting... I sensed a new journey in the making that day. Since then, I've been painting with them in the field and in the studio, on primed hardboard, paper, and primed cotton canvas board. I'm finding that this medium is allowing me to think about what my concept is more than what the paint is doing... or what to do with the paint. It seems to be a medium that I fit, finally, one that fits me. The extra time to paint is the key, yet it is dry enough within minutes to lay a glaze over. Then it can be spritzed with a solution of water and Goldens' Open Thinner, and it re-wets and is blendable and can still be worked into. This stuff is really cool.
There are so many things that I've discovered about painting with this paint, that I will need to write a separate post about them in the near future. I haven't painted any large paintings with it yet. That's something I plan to do soon.
A note of caution that I've learned recently... DO NOT think that because these are water based paints, that they are SAFER than other paint... NOT TRUE! I was surprised to learn that in fact, Pastels (#1 on the hazards list), Acrylics, Gouache, Watercolor, all water based paints, are MORE hazardous than OIL PAINTS... given sloppy painting/studio habits. Remember that it's not the vehicle that the pigment is dispersed or held in suspension in, it's the PIGMENT that is the danger. Water allows the pigment to be more readily absorbed into your bloodstream than pigment ground into suspension in an oil base... ie Oil paints. The solvent in oil painting is a hazard of course. So my idea is to use safe studio and painting practices (no eating or drinking while painting, good ventilation, and wear gloves) and realize that aside from ingesting the paint, the acrylics are a safer paint to use because there is no solvent, all things being equal.
So below are some of my recent acrylic efforts. And since this blog post ended up anything but short... I'll say adios for now. Soon I'll write up my thoughts about the materials and methods when painting with these paints.
A Golden Day - acrylic on canvas board - 8x10
Cottonwood Morning - acrylic on canvas board - 5x7
By what is happening outside my front door, it's very hard to believe that it is anything other than some lovely day in one of the idyllic spring months. We've had some snow, and I've been able to get out and paint it without having to add much additional clothing, other than a pair of long underwear and lightweight gloves, to what I would normally wear to paint in the spring. Our temps have been holding pretty steady in the mid 50's to low 60's during the daytime, i.e. painting hours.
I've been painting up a storm, which has led me to take a step that I had to think long and hard about taking. I've opened up an internet sales shop for my small field studies and other small paintings that are just piling up in my studio, garage and storage room. This decision wasn't made without a lot of thought, and some concern. My main concern was, how I could do this without creating problems with the galleries that I work with? Another was, would this kind of thing cheapen how the art is viewed? And lastly, would they sell?
I have answered all three of those concerns. I wrote a letter that went to all of the galleries that I regularly send art work to, explaining what I wanted to do and why. Three of the five that I sent the letter to replied back almost immediately that they completely understood and gave me the encouragement to "go for it"! They understand that they can't do and be everything that one artist needs to do and be to survive, and make a living at this Art thing we do. I'm fortunate to be with some galleries that are owned and operated by wonderful people, who do their absolute best for all of their artists. I'm grateful to them for their support.
As for the cheapening of the art because of where it's being sold... I may be over the middle stage of life... but I'm young enough to understand that the internet can be a vital, a powerful, sales agent for Art. And I'm not arrogant enough to think that any place that can sell my art, isn't a good place for it. There are a few examples of artists who've made very large careers based on internet sales ideas... Duane Keiser, Carol Marine, and a personal favorite, and artist who I met on Facebook... Harry Stooshinoff. All of these artists continue to create very personal, inspiring and original art, while also holding a very large presence selling their art on line. I would venture to say that many of us probably first learned about them because of that presence.
Lastly, would they sell? Yes... I'm happy to say that I have had some success in that area already. I've run a few pretty large projects myself, such as my APRIL PAINTING MARATHON in 2009, my SEPTEMBER NOCTURNES in 2010, and last year I did a brief project that I called MARCH MADNESS. Those projects helped to build a large base of collectors, and artists, who followed and in some cases, purchased the paintings that I painted.
Many artists have large studios which they occasionally open up and have a "studio sale" in. I would do that, if I had that kind of a space, and some day hope to. But for now, this is going to be my 'studio sale' event. An on going one that I will stock as small studies become available. In some cases these are studies for larger paintings, or simply plein air studies that were painted as information gathering studies to learn from. Some of the paintings have been in galleries already, and then sent back to me. In either case, they are not paintings that I will continue to send to the galleries. I'm concentrating on sending larger, more complex paintings to galleries now, not the small studies.
The name of my Etsy page is... MarcHansonArt... My gallery on Etsy is called 'Small Impressions'!
Here are some of the pieces that I just recently posted on the Etsy site... to see more information about them, please click on the MarcHansonArt link above.
I'm sharing a link to the Oil Painters of America's blog today. I would like to thank my good friend and great artist, John Potoschnick, who writes a wonderful blog in which he shares the art lives of other artists, through his very well thought out, and interesting to answer, questions. Click his name/link to visit his website. There is a link to his blog on the menu bar of the site.
'A view of the Colorado plains, looking south towards Longmont, CO from Yellowstone Rd, a few miles north of Longmont. Unfamiliar, but interesting to me, is the abundance of reservoirs, in this part of the west, that dot the landscape. The number of ducks and geese that I watched floating around the sky this fall, while out painting, was impressive to say the least. These reservoirs play a huge role in supporting the large numbers of birds living and passing through this area. The topography of this area is one of an undulating pattern of ranch lands and wild lands, and of course the ever increasing 'suburbia lands' developments. As I drive around, I am at once high and overlooking the lay of the land, and then soon back into a low lying riparian habitat. This view is from on one of those plateaus, looking across the mix of landscape that I find so interesting. All I have to do to change everything, is look to the right and into the face of the Rocky Mountains, and all that has to offer me as a painter!'
I woke up on the morning of the first day of 2013 as a resident of a new state, for the first time in over 33 years! As soon as the coffee took hold, I spent some time reflecting on what the recent past has meant to me, and on my excitement about what the future holds. A typical New Years' day activity for many of us, I'm sure.
I'm grateful for all of my past, for my present, and for the future to come. I'm living in a place of incredible beauty, only a portion of which I've even laid eyes on, and am healthy and eager to dig in and make 2013 even more interesting and rewarding than 2012 was.
Best wishes to you all for a new year blessed with good health, happiness, peace, love and Art!