Monday, November 30, 2015

Ornament Repairs

Unpacking ornaments, my Mom was giving me all the ones that need repairs. There was a large glass ornament with a small circular hole in one side. I started imagining how I would line the hole with clay, and as she handed it to me it shattered. Even though it was already broken, we both felt kind of sad. Ornaments are so sentimental and now another one was gone. But, as I swept up the pieces I found the very bottom, and put it with the top to try and salvage. I thought I would make sort of a smooth bulb shape but as I was pushing more and more air dry clay over the broken edges I saw that that would take two sessions. I wanted to get my ornament hospital picked up and put away! So I did more of a snowbank effect.

The Santa at bottom right is the same air dry clay. It's inspired by one of Nick's wooden ornaments. Black sticks were all that remained of his feet, but I think the shape looks nicer without anything sticking off so I took it back out of the repair pile.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Buy Paint

I went to Blick this week for some blue water based ink for my Christmas card, and since I had to sit in traffic for an hour to travel 10 miles it felt like I should stock up on whatever I need. I picked up a canvas for a series of aquatic dinosaur skeleton paintings I have been working on, researching, and sketching. I visualized the 3'x4' field of black and thought I probably needed more black paint. I took my new things home and put them away and found I already had two full tubes of black. That always seems to happen to me; I have a poor memory for which colors are running low.

I have an old painting I started a year ago that doesn't really fit into the series. It is a plesiosaur as discovered on site, before restoration, so it is twisted up and dead rather than animated. I don't really remember why but I thought it was a neat way to follow the boxy shape of the canvas and I had taken a million photos of interesting rocks thinking I would explore those in oil paintings, so maybe I intended to render the rock bed in an interesting way. I want to get this painting cleaned up and done because it has been languishing so long. I took stock of my remaining oil paints and chose a cool red for the background, but it wouldn't open for anything so I used warm orangey red (cadmium red light). It was smoother and easier than I remember and I had a nice time defining the shapes of the bones for a session.

Then I put away my paints and made an inventory list so I would stop buying duplicates Artist's grade paint is sold in tiers called series, which are determined by cost and concentration of the pigment. Series 1 will be white, black and brown, and might be $25 for 6 ounces while blue and red from the same brand in the same brand and grade can cost $100. The cost, and in the case of acrylics the lack of longevity, is why I don't just keep a lot of everything on hand. Also, you can't really layer or mix different sorts of paints freely and I have never settled on one. Oil paints make better paintings because they are luminous and have a long working time but if you want to paint any little sculpture like a brooch or an ornament or a little figurine acrylic is nice because it doesn't leach oil into the thing or need a base coat. You don't have to baby it. So I need both sorts for different projects, and then when I travel or sketch on location I use watercolors because they don't ruin anything and you can leave clean up for never with no harm done.

Since it has been so long since I worked on this painting I don't recall all the little decisions I made about placement and color, and outlining it has been a nice way to rediscover them. Even if it is very rough it is sort of charming. I am planning to leave the background layer as translucent as possible without losing the vibrancy in order to display the different planning stages that are still there, in pencil and what I think is watercolor but might be watered down acrylic. You can see in the top photo at bottom right I started to paint a shoulder or a wrist and then decided to move it so just crossed it out with paint. I thought it would be covered by a thick, detailed layer of paint but I am learning not to control things so much. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ueno Station

This was taken on a pedestrian footbridge above Ueno Station. The art in glass cases here was the only contemporary art I saw, because I didn't know where to go and ran out of time.

Here is the Museum of Western Art. The building at both ends was billed everywhere as a potential world heritage site because Le Corbusier designed it. But, if you read its pamphlet it has been turned down as a world heritage site twice.

These panoramas were taken with photosynth. They have a lot of artifacts. The app automatically takes shots even in manual mode so it catches my shoes or pedestrians. On the photosynth website you can look at the version of this that you can pan around. You can see The Gates of Hell more clearly. That sculpture is what caught my eye and brought me over to the museum, because there are other casts of it all over, like in Palo Alto.

Monday, November 2, 2015

pliosaur, ichthyosaur, and archelon reference photos

 Taking panoramic pictures is a good way to get an entire indoor specimen into view, as I discovered  with this Kronosaurus at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. However, that room had natural lighting which always gives a better result.
 I took a ton of reference photos of the specimens or casts in the  National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. I like to do paintings of skeletal monsters and I never understand from the limited photos I can find online what the shoulders, ribs, and fins are like. The photos are usually of the still crushed fossil and from limited  perspective. My paintings are of an animated monster that makes viewers feel a thrill of fear. like ichthyosaurs like the one above as subjects because the sclerotic rings suggest eyes.
 The detail in this is not great (I haven't learned to compensate for indoor lighting in an iphone photo) but I like it because of the huge wingspan it shows.