Spotlight on the Artist-Interview with Ian Rumley

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[as interviewed by Ian Robet McKown 8.19.12]

When looking through your online galleries, it becomes readily apparent that  you are fairly familiar working with multiple-painting series. Is this an approach born from needing more than one piece to flash out an idea, or is it something you picked up in your formal training?

 This really made me think. In college they really push you to develop a body of work around a concept. I’ve seen great shows where the cohesive element might have been style and technique more so than an overlapping idea. A lot of my work comes from research and introspection so sometimes I need a few pieces to work it out or the idea becomes more clear during the process so I have to go back and edit. My uncle took me with him a lot when he was running installation crews when he was a kid and installation work was the big thing back then. A lot of that vein is meant for museums or galleries, not really something many people would buy. He taught me to understand that a lot of art is problem solving or philosophy. College helped with that too. I don’t like Kandinsky but I can appreciate what he was trying to say. Having said all that I admire artists that produce for the sake of producing as well. Sometimes it’s great to develop a whole sleeve for someone, and sometimes it’s fun to do a 3 hour burner from start to finish just to enjoy it too.

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Id say one clear common thread in many of your series and individual paintings is the idea of a blasted world-one where possibly cults have risen to rush the survivors and governments have come to show their true corruptness openly. Do you have any particular fascination with the occult, or cults, and what staements are you making about a society whose underbelly you portray as rotten and corrupt?
The whole idea of the H.A.V.EN project is something I’ve been working on for years and it’s what I chose to do my BFA thesis on so it’s definitely the most research I’ve done for a series. I’m stepping back from it for a while because I scratched that itch for now but Im sure I’ll come back to it in the future. I definitely picked something I’m interested in but some of this work, and some of the other work that include similar themes, are more autobiographical than they look on surface. I went to catholic school as a kid and have struggled with where I stand with that ever since. That created a lot of my interest in the occult and religious subject  matter as well as symbolism. I don’t hate religion or people with faith, I actually prefer to look for the similarities and try to carve out an idea from that. I’m more interested in the historical side than the spiritual. Tattooing has given me a strong fascination with symbolism as well. I also grew up around a lot of fantasy, science fiction and horror and I love rock and roll so those things creep in sometimes. I hope the apocalyptic stuff has an educational quality to it. The idea was to invent a cult and produce propaganda for it using historically tested methods. It’s more about the recipe for propaganda than the end of days for me.
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 I sense a bit of salvation when i look at the children in your pieces.. Possibly a bit of your own personal feelings on how children may offer some sort of salvation. Am i way off on this?
 I do believe we can change the world by the way we raise our children. The kids in the haven series are more about sinister brainwashing than salvation on the surface but whatever you bring to viewing a work of art becomes a part of it. Maybe your on to something deeper that I missed.
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 I know you have been involvedin quite a few public works projects over the yeares, and clearly you arent being asked to duplicate your regular fare.  How do you approach such projects, and do you see it as lessening your art in any way to paint such contrary imagery?
Great question. I think being multi-faceted as an artist is ok as long as you believe in the project. I got into murals because I was encouraged by someone I have great respect for to give it a try. I didn’t have much interest in it until I learned about some of the tradition behind it and artists like the “tres grandes” who were carving out a take on an art form that is one of the first records of humanity. I have only painted a handful of murals and they were all collaborations which I really enjoy and a chance to work with people i respect. I don’t hunt down projects often, I have been lucky to have some offered to me and recently was put on a committee for a huge project at Redline gallery that I’m excited about. It’s another great opportunity to work with kids and people who continue to teach me about art like Carlos Fresquez. I have always used brushes as that was the way I was taught and I have met a great community as well as learned a tremendous amount. I like the collaborative aspect and I think it’s fun to take someones idea and produce something for them. Tattooing is the same way. People give you some creative control but often you are still producing something that helps them express themselves. The more experience I get the more personal expression seems to come with the project. I admire artists that either are asked to paint whatever they want or don’t bother with permission but for now if I can work outside with people I respect for a good cause I’m a happy guy. 
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 Youve been teaching art to many “at risk” kids.  How has that experience been for you? Has it changes how you approach art?
Teaching changed my life more than I can say. Just to get the chance was an honor. I have been at a High School  in boulder for about 3 years now. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. I learn more from them and the rest of the staff than I teach them. The first thing I learned is that I don’t like the “at risk” label much. Every kid is at risk. I had a good home, problems like everyone else but I wasn’t getting my ass kicked or starving, shit I went to catholic elementary school for free because my mom taught there, she was the only real catholic in the family as far as I remember. I think teaching has changed more about how I approach life than art. Its a different trip, there are definitely things I don’t put on my website and a big part of my lack of Facebook because it’s a different world . I’m no saint and part of it is just growing up and realizing that the way people see you does matter. I’m still figuring out the juggling act. I don’t censor myself too much and I’m not perfect but it makes you realize that your high school art teacher was a human and made mistakes too. I’m taking a year off to make some other things happen but I love the connection I have with my students and I have a great time not answering any specific questions about tattooing. My go to answer when they want to know about machines or anything else is always find somebody to apprentice you when you graduate, I’m just here to help you draw.
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From kowing you over the years,  can safely sy that i dont see much of your own personal sufferings reflected in your art.  Do you feel this ommission is intentional? Are you the type of artist who produces more or less when life becomes a bit of a struggle?
There is a lot of personal struggle in my work but I don’t like the be too literal about it. I think it’s more apparent in the hanged man series but that was still more about the struggles my family went through to get me here.
There are issues in my life I plan to work on in the future, art is very therapeutic for me, as for any artist I’m sure. I feel like I can be more honest as I get older. I am learning to juggle things better I think. I want to do personal stuff but I also want to do things like learn more about figurative shadows in oils just because it would be satisfying and I love painting. I like things to have a sense of humor too. My last series was pin up girls with ankle monitors on called “house arrest.” If I ever get my website updated I’ll put those on. I guess if I ever stop struggling I’ll know if it’s harder to create. 
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  Im sure many young or new artists would like to hear your thoughts regarding getting a 4 year art degree.  Do you think its helped you as an artist or hindered you in any way?
Because of choices I’ve made my 4 year art degree took over 10. I started college as a writing major and was offered a shop apprenticeship at bound by design at the same time. I loved to draw but didn’t have the drawing skills or confidence I needed to tattoo so I switched my major to art. I might do some things differently now but it was cool being in both of those environments at once. I was fortunate, and still am, to be around amazing artists every day. Some of the artists I admire have MFAs and some of them never saw the inside of their locker in high school. School opened up amazing opportunities for me, introduced me to teachers and peers that have been instrumental to me, and gave me skills i needed. It took a lot of time away from my family that I don’t get back too. I do well in that  environment because of my learning style, there is no substitute for just opening a book or picking up a pencil, you don’t have to go to college for that but it helped me quite a bit. Don’t take out nine million dollars in loans to get an art degree so you can make money though, save your cash for lottery tickets. 
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Your works are all over the board in so far as medium. Do you hve any particular ones that you enjoy?
Oils and tattooing are my favorites. I do a lot of watercolor and ink which I think I’m better at but oils are my favorite to work with. My favorite thing is to put on some horror movies, have a cocktail and get out the liquin and terp. I like to be well versed enough in multiple mediums that I can pick the one I want to get the idea of the work across the best. The only downside to switching around so much is that I don’t spend as much time on one technique and it takes longer to get proficient. But I got time and It keeps me from getting burned out too.
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 You have until reently been involved with a local co-op gallery.  As an artist, do you recommend this as a good option for artists wanting to estblish themselves a bit before moving on to traditional gallery representation?
I’m still with the Boxcar gallery. It has been a great experience overall. Exposure is important and getting your art on the walls is important, at least for me. A co-op gallery is cool because you do everything from advertisement to installation. It is a big commitment and if you don’t care about being a part of the ins and outs of everything it might not be for you. The right co-op can help knock some of the jitters out of showing your work. With the exposure you can create on the Internet now people can see your work in japan by way of Denver if you want. I still think there is something to be said for the gallery environment though. Something I’m trying to get better at is creating work for fun instead of a deadline. There have been times when I wanted more time to work out an idea and the deadlines can hurt too. I am trying to worry less about my resume and more about my work. It’s hard to balance the professional side with the creative but art is a job when there’s mouths to feed. I know that co-ops are synonymous with emerging artists and that’s fair. I also know artists that have chosen to stick with them instead of seeking commercial representation. Often with commercial galleries there are no compete clauses that I don’t have to deal with. At the same time the commercial galleries offer things a co-op can’t sometimes like finding a clientele for you so it’s a decision every artist has to make for themselves based on the quality of their work and what is available to them. I also know many people that don’t have “gallery representation” at all that do very well for themselves showing their work due to a little determination and common sense.
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 For as long as ive kown you youve had ten things on your plate and your fingers in ten pies.  What can e expect to see from you in the next 5 to 10 years?

I wish I could say. School took me a long time and at least for a few months I just want to paint and tattoo. I think developing a stronger Internet presence will help the cause. I love Denver but my goal is at least one show out of state a year. If nothing else just as an excuse to travel a little. Grad school is a possibility and I could see teaching as a serious part of my future but it has to be the right fit. I don’t want to do it just to be in a holding pattern for two more years. I’m also looking into some local residency programs. I have two beautiful daughters, a great 10 year old girl compliments of my fiancé, a female snake, female cat and a gecko were not sure about yet so I think a pet with testicles is a must in my near future before I start to menstruate. Thanks for all the opportunities you have created and all the advice and support over the years amigo! PHS! 

Artist statement
Ian Rumley is a painter, teacher and tattoo artist at Bound by Design in Denver CO where he was born and raised. Ian graduated from the Metropolitan state college of Denver with a BFA in 2011.

http://www.Ian-Rumley.com

Oil Dry Brush with Jason Frieling

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For this painting I chose burnt sienna and vandyke brown for my color palette.  I started by tracing over the top of my reference on spirit paper.  I do this the same way I would for a tattoo.  I use a ballpoint pen to get my hard edges and a #2 pencil to get my values.  After the image has been traced I will import the stencil into photoshop so the image can be mirrored.  I print the image and project it to the canvas by drawing with a red prismacolor col-erase color pencil.  I will either use a red or a blue color pencil depending if my over all look will be warm or cold.  Once I have traced my stencil on the canvas I will start painting.  Using only burnt sienna I load my paintbrush and then wipe it off on a paper towel before I hit the canvas with it.  I start by blocking in my shapes and values staying away from my highlight areas.  I will use a kneaded eraser to lift up paint in the highlight areas where needed.  I typically scrub my brushes to apply the paint trying to only tint the canvas.  This usually ruins my paint brushes after a couple of paintings.  But its a small price to pay.  I continue only using burnt sienna until the entire image is blocked in and looks done.  I will then start using the vandyke brown to get my deep values and shadowed areas in place.  I will use a one inch or two inch brush to get large smooth gradients and to sweep over some of my highlights staying away from the strongest highlights.  I try to tint the whole canvas with paint except the strong highlight areas.

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http://www.jasonfrieling.com

https://www.facebook.com/JASONFRIELING

 

 

 

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Born in 1983 and raised in Phoenix Arizona.  I have been tattooing professionally since 2005.  Self taught, I have been influenced by people like Jeff Gogue, Nikko Hurtado, Paul Acker, Joe Capobianco, Basil Gogo, Andrew Gonzalez, Guy Aitchison, Aaron Cain, and Derek Noble.  I have had the privilege to be guided by fellow artists who have helped me throughout the years.  I am always striving to create dynamically creative and refined work.  I definitely enjoy creating more of a surrealistic style of art with a darker look.   If I am not tattooing then you will find me promoting, painting, drawing, or 3d sculpting.  I have spent my whole life dedicated to studying art.  I have put all my time and effort and money into the technical aspect of art and tattooing from the beginning and will keep doing so until the day i die…..

Owl on Illustration Board- A Tutorial

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Late last year I was working with a friend (Kyle Allen Grover) who was using liquid acrylic inks on illustration board to paint American-Traditional tattoo designs.  I was impressed with their versatility whether used straight from the bottle or thinned down to be used as a wash so I figured I’d give them a try.

For this owl painting I used J.W. Rowley Burnt Umber ink, Talens Drawing ink and a bit of thinned out copic white for the highlights.  For the surface I used 110lb cold pressed illustration board made by Crescent.  I used two different sized water color brushes for the owl (one for the larger areas, one for finer detail) and a fine tipped brush for adding small hints of white.

For my initial lay-in I usually thin down a bit of my mail color and do a wash across the surface.  I dislike working on while surfaces ad I feel its harder for the eye to accurately judge value relationships; darks will always appear too dark and colors will always appear too bright.  I used a large sponge brush to apply the wash, and a bit of paper towel to keep it even and not oversaturating the board.  If you get the surface too wet it will tend to buckle.  For reference, the size of the piece is 30×40″.

After this dried I scrubbed a bit of charcoal across the back of my reference, flipped it over and lightly traces the major shapes onto the board.  Its important to not use graphite as it can and will show through subsequent layers of ink or paint.  Its also important to only trace out as much as you need.  trying to trace every value shift and shape will muddy your overall composition and make it impossible for the piece to have any originality or flavor.

I’d also like to stress that you will get a richer color, with fewer dry margins if you layer your ink slowly, with varying  strengths over time.  simply applying what you think is the right value in one go will make your work patchy and will make transitioning areas a lot harder.  I usually work with 3-5 different strengths, the lightest one being just a bit stronger than my background tint.  Another not of caution would be to not let too much ink sit on the brush.  I have a habit of lightly dragging a freshly dipped brush across a paper towel,  you dont want he ink to sit on the surface too long without penetrating.

After deciding that everything was in place, I began with the first area.  keep in mind this painting took over 30 hours to complete, with each area being painted several times to get just the right amount of detail.

 
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In this picture you can see that the amount of detail in the tracing isnt too great.  This initial sitting took something like 3 hours.  Most areas of this piece took several sittings each to get the best feel.  compare this to the next shot, or even the final above and you can see how much richness is acheived if youre willing to take the time.
 
 
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Went back into the wing again, worked on the head and body and started to work on the other wing.
 
 
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Worked back into the tail and body and added some more to the wing
 
 
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Getting close to donezo here.  You can see that nearly every step I went back into previous areas and usually added more mids and darks.  The final step is to add actual blacks in the darkest areas and add some white highlights.  I also went into the background to give it a bit of a darker feel and some vertical elements to suggest trees.
 
 
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All finished.  Owl. 30×40″ Ink on Illustration board.  I usually varnish with a spray matte finish.  Thanks for taking the time to read and look.
 
 
 
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Spotlight on the Artist- Brian Murphy

 

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Brian Murphy was born in staten Island New York in may 21.
1973. Originally discovering art  thru the graffiti that was   Abundant during a time when cardboard coated ever city corner and break dancers battled for real estate with nothing but the skill Of art and dance. In 1992 begun a life long career as a  fine artist beginning with  a formal apprenticeship with Steve Ferguson at the Ink Spot in Elizabeth N.J.    
Although struggling with homelessness and addiction for many years was able to prevail  in 2000 and continue life with a new found perspective and understanding of human nature. Since then opened Third Dimension Studio in Marshall’s creek p.a  and has dedicated his life to his Art and has won countless awards tattooed tv stars and radio personalities and his art  published in Hungary. Poland. France.and  rite here  in the U.S. A to name a few. He  is currently working on a series of instructional videos at his Tattoo gallery located in Marshall’s Creek Pa. And  living out  the American dream with his crazy  def pit bull ozzy. 

 
I paint from the inside out and my work is primarily improvised. My artwork fill a void in my life and often takes an exploratory look at the world around me,from social evils to distort reality and blurred  landscapes. My paintings blend the familiar with the frightening ,the beautiful with the revolting,the tasteful with the terrible. 
I allow the viewer to draw there conclusions about my work;they should add brush strokes to my canvas with there mind. My work allows my story and the viewers’ to intertwine,fully completing the painting. – Brian Murphy
 
 
[as interviewed by Ian Robert McKown 7.27.2012]
One thing I’ve noticed when looking at your work you seem to often focus on larger allegorical ideas. I see strife and struggle, and even  what i feel looks to be a struggle with addiction.  How much of your personal experiences to you bring to the table when working on a piece?
 
For me finding  meaning  is what i am looking for in my work. Especially that I tattoo all day and cosmetics is the primary focus. The work i do actually saved my life because i was living in a homeless shelter do to drug addiction. And was all i had left to utilize in order to get back on my feet . I don’t make a concise decision to tell a specific story with the work but  it often does end up going back to subjects i feel need to be remembered or told. So i would have to say yes most of my personal experiences and even events that have happened to others come out in the work.I feel like my job as an artist is to share what i have seen in my life , almost like a diary of images in a way.
 
 
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I’ve known you  off and on for something like five  or more years and you seem to be developing a looser, more suggestive style rather than some of your earlier works which were akin to some of the representational realist masters.  Is this a conscious shift or are we seeing a natural progression?
 
To be honest i had some very good opportunities with a well known curator that has been extremely successful in the art market and museum market. He gave me a chance to put a body of work together for a show i believe in April of 2009 but insisted that i approach it in a more representational manner.And looking back at it i am glad i did it because it helped me to approach my work differently. Its like there are two sides to the art world the loser work artist believe that realism is scholastic and  lacks emotion. I was told that artist that only work in a realistic manner is almost like there snuggy blanket because they are more concerned about what people will think about there work rather then having there own vision..Then the opposite would be the loser guys just suck and they cant really paint and all that.So in the end i got to see both sides of the story and came to the conclusion that even tho i know  that if i wanted to i can paint women’s faces with lines all over them and horror portraits and the tattoo world would support me and my name would get out more but i choose to develop my own vision.So what your seeing is the process of me trying to find my own vision.I am in no way saying that horror work ect  is not good or doesn’t take talent to do  and i will do more of it but i am just saying thats not my vision.
 
Speaking of the Masters, i know from out conversations you have a great deal of respect and love for early and modern masters.  Care to cite some of your influences?
 
Rubens, John Singer Sergeant even tho he was slightly later, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Holbein, Rembrandt; and like in the tattoo world there are so many others that are extremely talented but just never got mentioned.
 
 
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Id think that we an both agree that in tattooing we are seeming many old masters techniques being employed to a high degree of skill, yet in the contemporary are world there are less and less artists looking towards the past for guidance.  Thoughts?
 
I look at is like you have a musician that studies for years and becomes a master.In the end know one ever even hears about him but do you know who they did here about? Its the druggy that fell over half way thru the song.Thats the guy there going to buy his album not the guy with the talent.  The world is in chaos so why shouldn’t the art be.We live in a know body gets left behind approach and i think its just easier to perform a jerker then a master piece.Take the average guy walking thru the met museum looking at masters thats not an artist, he’s saying to himself thats a picture of lincoln thats a picture of washington and not really understanding how much work is involved to bring something to that level.I think people are bored with that subject matter and are constantly seeing images in every way shape and form via Facebook ,movies,ect   Times are different  back then everyone got together and went to see the paintings on a saturday night all these mages come so easily now so most people overlook it all in my opinion. It almost seems like the contemporary art world is driven buy artist that are just trying to shock and don’t really care about technique ect..  But mostly back then everything was structured artist couldn’t get crazy because of the religious influences ect. Know its just chaos in general and people would benefit from looking at the masters for more then just painting i think for living also.
How much has working with brush on canvas helped your tattooing? Are you seeing a bit of cross-inspiration, or do you keep the two as seperate animals?
 
It influences greatly and it does become stressful and very limiting to attempt to create works on skin equal to the canvas.On skin there is just way to many things that have to align in order for the tattoo to be successful. The person has to have the correct skin they have to be patient they have to not talk your ear off they have to trust you they have to be willing to come back so you can finish and a bunch of other things. So yes it helped me but its also stressful trying to achieve  the same quality.
 
 
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There is a growing movement amongst tattooers where we are seeing a more open mind towards teaching one another fine art and non-tattoo related art.  How do you feel about this shift given you stared tattooing was a much more closed community?
 
I definitely started in a closed type situation  and with all of these tv shows there are way to many people that maybe drew a cool picture of eddie from iron maiden in art class that think they should tattoo. As fare as teaching fine art i see that as a positive.For me i would teach someone art a lot faster then tattooing and believe they should be taught art way before they think about even tattooing not the other way around. Every day i get emails on Facebook asking if i can teach them but when you look at there profile you see no art they have done so again going back to the know body gets left behind stuff.
 
 
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What kind of materials do you prefer to work with? (including paint types, brush types and surface types)
 
I like many types earlier i used the air brush allot then pastels.Lately i have been enjoying watercolor also.I use Fabriano cold press paper and Holbein paints.As fare as the oil painting i like both gesso board and canvas also.I never got to technical with the types of canvas i believe for the most part its alabama primed canvas that i stretch myself and gesso board that i order thru Dick Blick.The paints are a mixture of rembrant,some winsor and some holbein.I like the full transparent paints for creating out of focus edges. I use a combination of colicky sable brushes which are round for more detailed work some larger filberts and flats also and really like the royal langnickel brushes they have really long hairs and create some really nice edges for alla prima style work.For a medium liquid is good although i paint more directly lately and don’t glaze much and i really like Gamsol its the only one for me that doesn’t smell at all and can be also used as a medium.
 
 
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Have you had much experience with the fine art community?  Any plans for shows in the near future?
 
Like i mentioned before i have had some experience with the fine art community. I have done a pretty good amount of shows to date which can be extremely stressful when you tattoo all day but i do love the learning experience that comes with seeing all your work at the show in a different light and saying to myself ok so were do i go from here.I  will also  be having a show on sep. 8 at sacred gallery located in Soho in Manhattan.
 
 
Looking back at yor earlier works, what do you see as the biggest shifts you’ve made?
 
The biggest shift is to paint more directly and rely  on making the correct shape size color value brush stroke rather then take a dry brush and blend everything.I feel like its closer to tattooing because we don’t have the lugtury of blending our tattoos with a brush..Along with really trying to to not be concerned about what i think other people want to see.
 
 
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What can we expect to see from you in the next 5 to 10 years?
My goal is to develop my vision on canvas and then bring it to skin.I would also like to make some videos to share some of what i learned thru the years would be nice.
 
 
(B.Murphy Fine art on skin)
Third Dimension Studio
18 village center
East Stroudsburg P.A
18301
(570)223-6602
 
 
 
 

“Addie” – Watercolor Tutorial by Gayla Schuett

 


Hello Fellow Artists and thank you for allowing me to give a step by step here at the new and fabulous blog!!

This is a progressive tutorial on how I did a watercolor of “Addie”, size:  23X13.  Paper:  I always use Arches and typically 140 lb. cold press.  The weight of this paper works better in my experience, as it holds water well without a lot of puddling and it takes scrubbing and mult -layering somewhat better than 200-300 pound. Always begin with a decent pencil sketch, not too heavy as to show thru later and not too light so that you lose your lines in the washes.  Also…very important to tape down the paper with white masking as opposed to colored, the color can be a definite distraction.  Keep your water tray in front of you with a large sponge submerged inside,  great for removing excess water from your brush.  Using a towel to remove excess pigment from your brush is very helpful as well in controlling the amount of water/pigment.   Practice with this, you will see what I mean.

The sketch is in place (composition is a must as you know, in portraiture) and I use miskit to mask out all the areas I want to leave white.  In this particular painting, I did an experiment with gradually masking over painted areas throughout the various stages of the painting to give variety to the values of color.  Key note on miskit: don’t bother with using brushes first dipped in soap and then the loathsome attempt of rescuing the brush for re-use.  I have found that a rubber tipped nib works great as well as a thick darning needle-excellent for thin lines. Even spattering with a toothbrush works well, so long as you use good control and know exactly where you want those light areas to be. Allow plenty of drying time for the masking fluid before applying water.  If you know that your background will be dark, put your signature in with miskit as well.

Using a 2″ kolinsky brush (they hold sooooo much water!) I wet down the entire face area.  Then using a 1 1/2″ flat brush I used a mix of paynes gray and cobalt in a creamy consistency, began applying the color working light to dark.  The great thing about watercolor is that depending on the amount of dilution, the same color can carry a little or a lot of pigment without the addition of more colors.  When adding a stronger value, it’s a good idea to stroke the brush on the back side of your hand to test the liquidity, make sure the paint is “tight” and doesn’t allow for flowing or “blossoms”.  The number one rule of watercolor is: if the shine is gone from the paper….STOP!!  Wait for the paper to completely dry (you can use a hairdryer to speed it up, however it may lighten the true color of the pigment) and then you may add more washes to achieve the exact values you desire.  Truly, technique in watercolor is all about managing the water itself.  Never puddle your paper, brush on your initial wet areas with care, as if you are actually “painting”.

 

In this step, you can see that after allowing the paint to dry, I have added more masking fluid to the face to retain some of those lighter tones.  Once dry, simply repeated the same colors using more saturation especially in the hair and around the eyes using a round fine point brush combined with shaders.  You can really see the whites beginning to pop at this point.  I then added a bit of magenta to the cobalt to come up with a violet tone to lay in the hairline and some of the shadowed areas of the face.

Background:  Typically a background would be the final stage of a watercolor painting.  However, in this case, knowing that the floating hairs in front of the face would most likely be left white (yes I change my plans in mid gear sometimes) it was important to block in the background now.  Using the wet on wet technique again, I repeated the same colors using the wide wash brush FULL of paint using a criss- cross technique.  Walk away, grab a sandwich, this takes quite some time to dry.

With the background washed in you now get a great visual of your highlights, even with the masking fluid still in place.  This is where I “tweak” the painting, generally going wet into dry, moving the color around and fading the edges of the additional washes as I go.  There is so much manipulation you can do  in the wet into dry technique to achieve exactly what you were going for and it is really good time to pop in complimentary colors at this point.  After everything is completely dry (and your paper will not feel “cool”…( a good rule to use to check for moisture level) you will start to remove your miskit…for the magic!  You can buy the erasers for this but what works much faster and doesn’t smear the thicker paint that may be below, is to use masking tape…low tack.  Simply ball up the masking tape and gently use a pulling action at the masking sites.  This was a discovery passed on to me by a dear friend who really knows his watercolors and I wish I would have had this tip years ago.  Once the masking fluid has all been removed, it is time to scrub out a bit of the harshness of the lines (yes, there are “scrubbers” out there in all sizes, be sure to buy them and use them with a light touch, you will love them), apply soft color over other parts of them and make the true reveal of your painting.

This particular size of paper leads to a generally “larger than life” head shot and has a great impact when hanging on a wall in a 3″ mat.  I like to use either start white or plain black for portraits depending on the tones of the portrait itself.  Keeping the matting simple on a watercolor leads your eye to your target…the painting and not the mat.  So, in closure, manage your water and you will have a successful watercolor painting regardless of your subject.  I hope this helps one or many of you to attempt a medium that you wanted to try, but were just afraid to take the plunge.  Enjoy yourself!!

 

https://www.facebook.com/gschuett2

Step by Step- Nosferatu by Jed Leiknes

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Hi! I’d like to give you a little rundown of a painting, if that is okay. Let’s begin!

Tonight’s project is a larger portrait of Nosferatu the vampire, or at least his broke cousin Ron. Their dads are twin brothers. I started with a stretched canvas, which I believe was 36×24″ in size. Using sap green, burnt umber and raw umber thinned down with turpentine, I laid down a quick background knowing that later, the overall hue would continue to show through my paints as I built them up, forever giving our boy a bit of a sickly pallor.

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I begin sketching him in with brush and the same two or three thinned-down paints I used for the background. WhiIe i try to stick to shapes and shadows initially, I am kind of pulling the imagery out of my head so I’m guilty of doing abit of contour linework. As long as I’m not leaving those flat borders around things later on, it doesn’t bug me all that much. As I go, I begin wiping out spots where I think light will hit. Things like nose, cheekbone, forehead all get hit with a bit of turp and then wiped off either with a rag or in my case, some incredibly cheap paper towel that has a tendency to crumble after a bit of this.

Once I’m fairly satisfied with the overall shape of my dude, I’ll take another quick go at the background with the same three paints. Between the initial backdrop, the sketch and the second background pass, the only difference has been brush size and the amount of turp I use.

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At this point I’ll begin scaling back the amount of turp I use with each stage, and increasing the amount of medium I incorporate into my pigments (While I typically use Galkyd, for this project I’ve been using small amounts of Liquin. Each does their job and well, for me it’s a matter of what I’m trying to accomplish in a given painting). I’ll then get to blocking midtones and shadows in the face. I’ll continue using my sap green as well as a bit of Alizarin Crimson and adjusting with my raw umber and a quick-dry white; I’ll also tend to use Payne’s Gray and even venetian red. I don’t have a solid rhyme to what goes where, and tend to mix paint on the brush. It’s lazy and undisciplined but it also gives a piece a fun bit of energy. At the end of the day however, it still boils down to an awareness of value
and hue. Saturation can come later.

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Before too long, and while the paint is still fairly wet, I’ll begin refining shapes and maybe even jumping ahead to texture… the two tend to even each other out as I go. For Ronsferatu, I wanted to give the guy just this incredibly dry, cracked skin. Keeping a basic sense of where my light source is, this is probably where I have the most fun. As I go I may hit opaques, refine AND add texture all at once. It’s a bigger piece so I’m after getting the underpainting where I want it, I’m just sort of moving paint around as I come to an area.

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With time running out and precious minutes of sleep being ignored, I decide to focus specifically on the mouth for the rest of the night, taking care not to get too cartoony and flat with my shadows and highlights. It’s the easiest thing in the world to just blast a piece of art with sharp white highlights. But by the end of this, there
should only be a few distinct areas where pure white is used.

Next time we’ll hit the top of his forehead, sort out a background and think about glazing. Thanks for reading!

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https://www.facebook.com/vitaminjed

http://www.leiknesoils.com

 

Woman with Serpent- Step by Step with Ian Robert McKown

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  • I was reminded that I had to pick this piece up from Landlocked show at Kaze Gallery here in Denver, and thought that I had taken enough in-progress pics to do a mini “how to” on this piece.  here it is!

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  • Step one was to begin with an idea.  this piece was actually dictated by the size and shape of the frame I’d been given as a gift a couple years prior. I believe it was some sort of coffee-table dish with a mirrored surface.  I liked the frame and decided that if i removed enough of the mirrored backing I could have a bit of a ghostly and “antique” look for anything I would put behind it.  It was easy enough to take a few new flat razors and scrape away the parts I wanted to remove, and then clean the glass with a bit of turpentine.

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  • The next step was to tailor a design to fit the frame. This meant a vertical and oval composition.  I had been drawing quite a few “fancy ladies” and this seemed to work for the space.  Beyond that, this painting was for a show that was featuring art from many of Colorado’s tattooers.  So even though much of my work is quite a bit more “painterly”, I figured I’d tailor this to be a bit more tattoo-esque.
  • If I’m not mistaken I had intended on including possibly the Serpent’s head on the top of the composition of perhaps a third rose.  but as the drawing progressed this seem to work well for my needs.  This stage was done with prismacolor’s Carmine Red pencils on Canson tracing paper.  I beliee in a more “sketchy” approcach, so if you lok you can see how many elements were sketched several times over before I decided on the final shaped.  The darker areas were where I was going in to the piece to try and solidify the major lines.

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  • Although this picture doesn’t qualify as a step, it shows me testing how the layout will work within the frame.  Apparently it was taken with an Instagram filter (apologies)

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  • Fast forward a bit.  Oce I was satisfied with the overall design and size I made a photo copy and brought it home to tranfer onto some  Crescent 110lb cold-pressed illustration board.  before transferring the image i took the time to do a light wash of burnt umber liquid acrylics on the board (made by J.W. Rowley). while that dried i lightly charcoaled the back of the photocopied drawing and with a pen, lightly traced the major lines onto the illustration board.  Then I inked in all the lines using a brush-tip Pentel marker or pen.

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  • Next, I began coloring the piece using different strength of diluted washed.  I used a cool grey, earth green and burnt umber.  I worked each color separately until each part was the right values and worked well with the rest of the piece.  Although this was more of an illustrative piece, I kept the light source coming from the same direction (for the most part). Before adding the color I did so some under shadowing with a diluted drawing ink in the hair and a bit here and there to reinforce the darkest areas.

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  • At this point I used a drawing black ink (Talens) to strengthen the darks along with some soft-bodied acrylic red to color in the blood and some soft-bodied white to make the highlights pop.  I went back over any of the linework that had lost its strength  with the same brush-tip pen.

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  • This last pic shows the finished product right before I cut the board.  I made a small “washed” with foam core that went between the frame and the painting to give a bit more depth to the final product.

Thanks for looking!

http://www.errantephemera.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kaze-Gallery/200974526800