Friday, March 26, 2010

Another View of the Girl with the Black Ear Ring

A small group of artists are still painting from a model at the art museum in Lafayette, Indiana each week for four weeks, a three hour pose each week.  Everyone is painting in oil except me, as I'm still in my "watercolor month".  It's taking them all four sessions to finish one oil painting, but I'm finishing a watercolor each week.  This is my second "Girl with the Black Ear Ring."

This time I chose a Twinrocker White Watercolor paper with a "Feather Deckle", that is an exaggerated natural deckled edge that is rather decorative.  I think it's beautiful for images that are vignettes because it frames the painting beautifully.  I hope you like the painting as well as the paper.

Please forward this to others whom you think might enjoy the life of this papermaking/painting artist. Remember, you can now receive new posts by e-mail.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Painting the Same Landscape on Twinrocker Watercolor Paper

To warm up and get my watercolor juices flowing, before I painted on one of the three sheets of Fabriano handmade watercolor paper, I painted the landscape "High Creek Bank" on my own Twinrocker watercolor paper.  This was actually the first time I've ever painted the same subject on two different papers.  The two paintings weren't intended to look the same, but to be two individual interpretations of the same subject.

What I found was that the two handmade papers couldn't have been more different.  So let this be a lesson for us---all handmade papers are NOT alike.   The Fabriano watercolor paper was very soft and would not take any erasure of my initial drawing without abrading the paper fibers and making a dark mark when painting a wash on the area.  I actually had to abandon my first sheet and start over with no erasures of the pencil drawing.  The Twinrocker watercolor paper is very hard so it doesn't abrade and is very strong for any erasure or abuse from painting.  It's also very correctable so I could paint and lift paint when I wanted to remove or lighten an area.   And Twinrocker watercolor paper is surface (tub) sized with gelatin so it accepts watercolor washes easily.   However, after working with each paper and getting to know its characteristics, I certainly did enjoy painting on both of them.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Invitational Italian Watercolor Competition

The people of Fabriano in Italy have been making paper for several hundred years, 1400AD or so.  There were many small paper mills in the town of Fabriano before the Wars (WWI & WWII), but wars kill craftsmen, and so now there is only one mill called Fabriano, after the town itself.  All paper was made by hand before 1800, when the French invented the paper machine.  Today, Fabriano is a huge government/private partnership corporation which is, for the most part, a machine mill using both cotton and wood fibers.  It makes all the currency for Italy and many other countries as well as most of Italy's book papers, art papers, stationery, and on and on. However, to carry on the ancient tradition and craft of making paper by hand,  they have a small team of craftsmen who continue to hand dip a paper mould into a vat of cotton pulp, forming one individual sheet at a time, just as Twinrocker does in Brookston, Indiana.

This year the Paper & Watermark Museum in Fabriano is hosting their Biennial Invitational Watercolor Competition.  I have been invited to compete with twenty-nine other artists from Italy, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, India, and the USA.  We each received three sheets of Fabriano handmade watercolor paper and were asked to paint on the full 22" x 30" sheet, sending one completed watercolor.  I must add that most, if not all, of the Fabriano watercolor paper that's imported to the USA is machine made, and is radically different from their handmade.  

Many years ago, when Howard and I visited Fabriano, they invited me to make some paper at their vat, and it happened to be watercolor paper they were making that day.  The felts, on which they "couch" or transfer the newly formed wet layer of pulp, have been custom woven so that they have wool nubs sticking up in order to create an embossed roughness to the sheet.  This roughness, which is in the pattern of the weaving of the felt, is present in the Coldpressed surface and is unique in handmade papers world wide.   After many years, I now have an occasion to actually paint on that paper. I'm going into some detail about this unusual surface, because it is unique to Fabriano, and I think you can see the rough surface in this photograph.  This is the 30" x 22" image I painted on their paper.  As its title states, it is a "High Creek Bank" on the edge of a woods with many trees whose roots have become exposed from the rushing water of spring rains.
The thirty submitted watercolors will be augmented with some additional Italian watercolors by invited, non-competing artists which will all be exhibited in Italy and then travel to several other countries with a full color catalog.  The lucky winner will get 100 sheets of this paper, a one-person exhibition in Fabriano, and a two-week stay in Fabriano for the opening of the festivities.  One never knows what the future holds.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Is My Watercolor Month

About two years ago, I got very interested in painting in oil after meeting some local oil painters.  Until then, I had only painted watercolor (which I still love).  So I amerced myself in this new medium (to me), fell in love with it, and didn't paint another watercolor until this month.  A few months ago, I was invited to compete in an international watercolor competition.  Now, all of a sudden, I had to submit the watercolor and I hadn't painted a single watercolor since, well you know...  So, consequently I decided that March would be my watercolor month, everything I painted had to be watercolor.

It's always good to stretch yourself by trying new things, and to also retrying something you haven't done for forty years?  How time flies, doesn't it!  Well, I know it is a good thing to do this, but I'm not sure it's good to put these fresh starts on one's blog.  But I think if blogs are to be a record of an artist's life, then it's good, but the viewer needs to see these visual efforts in the context of artistic stretching.

I did this very thing with my last blog at the Eiteljorg Museum when we painted from the model in Western get-up.  It was the first figure I ever painted, having not even drawn the figure since college until a month ago.  Oh my.  And I had to paint the figure in, you know, watercolor.   The cowboy was my first effort at this, and this portrait from the model is my second watercolor figure painting.  However, in this one, the watercolor juices are beginning to flow again, and I felt more comfortable with it.  It was just the portrait part that was new.  Hope you enjoy it.   Tomorrow I'll show you the painting I submitted to the international invitational competition.   If you'd like to see my watercolors before oil painting came into my life, just click on the link to my web site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Painting from a Cowboy Model at the Eiteljorg Museum

I am so excited  that I was able to add this new "Receive This Blog by E-mail" feature so you don't have to search for it.  Just type in your e-mail address, and you'll get the newest blog by e-mail when ever I send one.  Then, if you want to see the past postings, you can go to my regular blog address.  I'll continue to show new drawings and paintings as well as share information on both handmade and machinemade artist papers.

After I posted yesterday's sketch of the cowboy at the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art, I found a couple of photos of the model posing for the painters in the main corridor of the museum.  The visitors to the museum were quite surprised to see this art in action!  but loved it after the initial shock.

Here I am beginning a watercolor of the Black Cowboy model on Twinrocker's colored watercolor paper called "Patriot", which is a tan color.

And here's the finished watercolor:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Drawing & Painting at the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art

On the last Saturday in February, the Indiana Plein Air Painters Assoc. (IPAPA) sponsored a Paint-IN at the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art in Indianapolis.  This is a gorgeous museum of sand stone, limestone with huge wooden beams down the main corridor; and the collection of Western paintings is probably the most outstanding east of the Mississippi.   IPAPA members could either paint copies of paintings in the permanent collection or paint from a model dressed in Western costume.  I opted for drawing and painting from the model.  It was great fun with about ten painters crammed together with their easels on 5ft square drop cloths! There was one model in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Having never painted a figure in either oil or watercolor, I decided to ease into it by drawing a sketch of the "white/Anglo" cowboy in the morning and then painted a watercolor of the "black" cowboy in the afternoon.

This sketch is once again on Twinrocker "Yale" handmade text weight paper which I toned with a Raw Sienna watercolor wash.  The pencils are Prismacolor Verithin Black Terra Cotta #745.   The staff and visitors to the Eitlejorg Museum with lots of kids (it was a busy Saturday) absolutely loved watching all the artists painting in about three galleries with some of us and the models in the main corridor.  It was such a success that both IPAPA and the Eiteljorg will do it again.  Tomorrow I'll post my watercolor.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Drawing from the Model

For the past six weeks or so, several artists have been drawing from a model each Friday at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette.  This is the drawing I did last Friday.  It's drawn with Prisma Verithin pencils as before and on toned Twinrocker "Cream" handmade paper.  The paper was "toned" with a very thin watercolor wash of DaVinci Raw Sienna Deep.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Male Portrait Study

Today's drawing is a little study, 5" x 5", done with  just graphite on an unusual Twinrocker handmade paper.  This paper is made from Abaca plant fiber rather than cotton rag.  Abaca is a type of banana leaf that is grown especially for making paper in the Philippines.  The old fashioned name for it was Manila Hemp because it replaced the use of hemp fiber for making an especially strong paper in Europe when sailing ships no longer used sails (which were made from hemp). Because Manila was the main city in the Philippines where Abaca was from, people commonly called the paper made from Abaca, Manila Hemp.  However, today we try to use the name Abaca because that is the true plant fiber this paper is made of, not hemp.  Other common machine made papers that are made of abaca are tea bags, Manila folders, and some toilet paper.  Because it is such a long, strong fiber, it has great folding and tearing strength even when the paper's very thin.  Microscopically, it also happens to have a very thin, smooth cell wall which can give the paper a slightly slick, surface which can be very nice for some drawing techniques. In the Philippines, the natural fiber is shipped "bleached" to a creamy off white color or in its natural "unbleached" tan color.  This little study was drawn on Twinrocker "Bleached Abaca", without any additional pigment, in the "Text weight" of .006" thick and with a Coldpressed surface.  It was a delight to draw on.  I hope you enjoy seeing it and try drawing on it yourself sometime if you haven't already.  Just go to Twinrocker's web site and call them M-F during the day.  They sell a great labeled Swatch Set of all their papers.

I hope you find these postings enjoyable and informative.  Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.  Please forward this and tell your friends who might be interested about my blog, and you can see photos of all my paintings on my web site at

Monday, March 1, 2010

Drawing of a Woman----in homage to John Singer Sargent

I was pleased with the way my post uploaded yesterday and hope you enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, the color of the Twinrocker handmade paper seemed to look a bit grey when it actually is a very warm pale tan.  I guess it's difficult to get completely accurate color when I'm photographing a drawing in my studio under day-light fluorescents, even though I did set a custom White Balance on the Nikon 40 camera.

Today, I'm posting another drawing study, 12" x 10".  This time I've created a portrait interpretation of a female figure taken from a painting by John Singer Sargent.  I'm using the same Prismacolor Verithin pencils that I used in yesterday's drawing, but the Twinrocker handmade paper is different.  This drawing is done on Twinrocker "Cream", 100% cotton rag, handmade paper in a Text weight (.005-.007" thick).  I've toned the paper with a very, very dilute Yellow Ochre watercolor wash to create that uneven visual tone and cause the slight amount of shrinking when the paper dries which makes the paper have a beautifully supple surface.  This is the same paper and toning that the well known artist,  Robert Liberace, uses when he draws his figures.   I'll upload the photo and hope that the subtle color of the paper is a little more accurate than yesterday.

I think you can see the slight ripple in the surface of the paper from the shrinking during the drying of the watercolor wash and the irregular color that the toning of the wash adds to the "look" of the drawing.  I'm having fun doing these studies and hope you're enjoying them too.

Remember that I would enjoy your thoughts and comments.  This blog is very new; so if you have friends who might enjoy it, please forward it to them.