Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Golden Open Acrylics

I get all sorts of process oriented questions. Most recently I've been getting asked a lot about my paints and palette, which made me realize what a nice blog topic this would make!

I use a Masterson Sta-Wet Premier palette box. This is comprised of a box (think Tupperware) with a sponge liner and a slice of palette paper that work together to keep my paints wet. This setup allows me to work with the same palette for about a full week, having the box open for multiple hours every day. You can see what the palette looks like at the beginning of a new session above - below the exact same palette after this week's work.

For the last 25 years I have used Golden brand acrylics, mediums, and varnish. I love the overall quality of these paints and the fact that, when I have a question, their customer service department is made up of artists who actually use the products.

Until last year, I used their Heavy Body paints exclusively. They have a buttery consistency, a little looser than oil paints, but with some heft. The colors are glorious, they stay put on my palette, and because their pigment content is extremely high, the mixtures are extraordinarily wonderful.

Recently, Golden introduced "Open Acrylics." Opens were designed with a slower dry time, allowing the artist to work in a style similar to what painting in oils might allow. Furthermore, Opens can be intermixed with the traditional acrylics, with their open properties carrying across.

I began playing with the Open Acrylics last winter, and quickly fell in love with them. I really enjoy the flexibility they have added to my working process and think they are a tremendous asset to the studio.
  • They are a little "stickier" and cling to the brush more when mixing and applying, but clean up just as easily (just water, no solvents needed!)
  • They are more transparent, especially the white. I've worked around this by using a 50/50 mix of Heavy Body and Opens (with just the titanium white).
  • The colors react/mix the same as with the Heavy Bodies. Meaning, Open Hansa Yellow mixes the same (other than the translucency) as Heavy Body Hansa Yellow.
  • They oddly dry faster than the heavy bodies on the palette, especially noticeable in the winter months. Still a factor in the summer, but not as markedly different.
  • The ability to manipulate the paint for up to a half hour is extraordinary.
  • They dry with a lovely surface comparable to the Heavy Bodies.

I now use a combination of Open Acrylics and Heavy Bodies. You can see in the image below which colors are the opens by the size of their puddles. The Opens tend to stretch and bleed on the palette, whereas the Heavy Body's stay put.

I am delighted with the Open Acrylics, enjoying exploring new horizons in the studio, and plan on working with them for a time to come.

Thanks so very much for your questions about my materials - have a great and colorful weekend!

Mona Lisa takes her job of quality control seriously.
Working With a Limited Palette

Lots of artists advocate working with a limited palette. What this means is that the artist uses the same selection of colors for every painting they create. It also allows for harmonious color combinations, while all the while the artist is building a better intimacy with their tools.

I fought working this way, but finally caved about 6 years ago in the interest of proving my mentor wrong. She was kind enough not to make me eat my words. :)

So now I always set my palette out the same way, using the same colors. Notice I've intentionally kept my lightest values on the left side, and my darkest paints on the right. If you look at the image of the week old palette, you'll see how this plays into the placement of the different mixtures as well.

When I began working with a limited palette, I used only 10 tubes. Over the years, I have added a few new colors into the mix - if they demonstrated staying power, I kept them.

And periodically I'll add something special in order to create a particular effect, but for the most part, the list below is what I am now painting with, every day.

From the upper left corner, in clockwise direction:

Titanium White
Light Ultramarine Blue
Prussian Blue
Anthraquinone Blue
Pthalo Blue Green
Dioxazine Purple
Terre Haute
Sap Green
Van Dyke Brown
Quinacridone Scarlet
Cadmium Red Dark
Cadmium Red Light
Light Magenta
Raw Ochre
Cadmium Yellow Dark
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Hansen's Yellow

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