The History & The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of…
A friend gifted me a CD copy of Paganini’s 24 Caprices and while I loved the music, I wondered what I couldn’t focus on the music like I did with other classical compositions. Then I read the booklet that came with the CDs and got stuck on how the author described Paganini as the world’s first rock star. He was a troublemaker and loved to throw curve balls at the audience by changing and twisting his compositions around. Much like the many descriptions of Mozart. I imagined transposing him into our time and found no comparison closer than modern jazz musicians.
The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!
Starting with several coats of white gesso, to add a crisp inner light to the surface. Then I drew the figure in charcoal or china wax, because the bleeding these materials did when the paint touched them, helped shadowing and depth effects. Followed by drawing the various elements of the background. The first coats of paint were the base colors, on the larger surfaces, including the larger areas of the figures. Then I started to build up the hues and tonal changes by mixing different colors with a clear, glossy varnish and letting each new layer dry before adding the next. Occasionally, between layers of tinted varnish, I would dry brush white highlights and burnt sienna shadows to indicate movement of the wind and give some depth to the figure. When you zoom in close on the figure, you may notice the direction of the brush-strokes. They were mainly done away from the figure. This started to really give more depth when I thinned the paints with varnish.
The process is long and can be frustrating if you are impatient to see the end result, but I found the joy of imagining and re-imagining the slow progression to the end-point, and it often revealed new options or solutions to challenges I was having with my techniques.
You contribute to my next bottle of Macallan When you purchase The Artist’s Stuff: Prints, Fashion, and awesome Decor.
What inspires an artist?
“All they see” is the first and most literal answer.
For me, that is literally hundreds of gallery & museum exhibits, thousands of books, and tens of thousands of images online.
When asked where to start a book collection, I almost always recommend these art bibles: Janson’s “History of Art” OR Phaidon’s “The Art Book” Both give a nice overview with good pictures. Once you’ve discovered what you are attracted to there most, you can then dig deeper into that area.
If I had to pick only a few of my major influences, which is a very difficult task, it would be Modigliani, Picasso, Van Gogh, & Andrew Wyeth. Here are a few of the best books I recommend from them.
Here are a few others from my personal library, I return to over and over again.
If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. The ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever-growing collection of images on my Pinterest account.
The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too can make masterpieces!
NB: These are done on plywood veneered canvas stretchers. However, I suggest you use Stretched Canvas:
The Review: Sargent brand offers a double primed surface, which allows you to use less paint on the painting and to take advantage of the pure white for building up layers and depth. As you get more comfortable with your materials, you may find something that suits you better. I get a private label brand at my local Omer Des Serres.
nb: I put a sample of a different size as a link to buy some and you can get these in almost any size!
Amsterdam Acrylic Paints: The Review: I’ve chosen Amsterdam because the colors tend to be sharper and more vibrant. Also, it is relatively easy to find them in the more economical tubs, instead of the tubes. When I’m mixing or diluting the paint I’ve often gone for the less expensive Pebeo brand: for its better viscosity. If you are working in a style that resembles impasto or using a pallet knife approach, then I strongly recommend using the Windsor & Newton brand: in tubes, for the thicker and richest colors.
Nylon Paint Brushes: Here’s a great starter kit from Hero Nero. However, Windsor & Newton remain my favorites. The Review: There are many to choose from and lots of cheap ones out there, but you will want to aim for a little more when you see how fast the glue holding in the hairs fails with cheap brushes. I tend to have a fan, several flatheads, a large round head, and a fine tip for the lining. Play with them and see what works best for you. Make sure to stick with nylon to start and always be fastidious about keeping your brushes clean. It makes the difference between having a brush for only a week and having some for close to 30 years, like mine.
Varathane Diamond Exterior Finish, Water-Based, 946 mL Gloss: The Review: There are several reasons I love this product, and the interior finish equivalent: It’s relatively low cost, covers lots of surface area, allows for clean and super clear coatings, dries well to a diamond coat that doesn’t feel sticky to touch like most acrylic varnishes do, can be mixed easily with acrylic colours to make super thin hue coats, and cleans easily. It’s allowed me to achieve greater depth in my paintings and even resembling oily brilliance of using oils.
Photoshop for Mac: The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and possibly get the similar results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity
Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop: The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the waiting for the new iPad Pro when it comes out. The specs make it sound like a supercomputer for creatives.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well-deserved reputation for having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built-in wifi.
Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer: The Review: For me, this has been the easiest to use for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines, it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job for printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.