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Archive for the ‘Oil Painting’ Category

My Newest Oil Painting

I hope everyone is having a great week! I want to share with you the most recent addition to my oil painting portfolio, a 36″x54″ (big!) oil on canvas of a pastoral scene that I recently completed. This was created for a friend’s mom, based on the view from her house.

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Oil paintings by Jennifer Lycke

This Little Piggy

Hello again! To make up for lost time, I’ll be sharing some items with you, so we can all catch up. On June 29, eight pig statues, including mine, were revealed in the town of Smithfield and one was even symbolically “christened” (Have you ever been to a pig christening before? This was a first for me.) Here is the town’s link to their Olden Days photo album, pig reveal included. You’ll see some photos of children with my pig, which makes me happy, as I wanted the design to appeal to kids. Below is a picture of me showing one side (pigs in the pillory) of Cultural Pig.

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Non-toxic Oil Painting

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been trying to live a more non-toxic life as part of my fight against thyroid cancer. Well, I’m also an artist. As I’ve just accepted a new oil painting commission, I’m researching ways to make the painting process safer and less toxic. As many people have become concerned about the health and environmental effects of the products we use, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. So far, here are a few suggestions I’ve found:

1) Use good hygiene and cleaning methods. Definitely don’t put your brushes anywhere near your mouth. Supposedly, VanGogh ingested traces of his oil paints as he worked, and this may have contributed to his mental and physical decline. Also, try to wear gloves as you paint. I know in the past, I’ve been guilty of getting oil colors all over my hands as I paint. Even though I’d scrub my hands afterward, remnants of stubborn color would still remain. This can be absorbed into your body, along with any toxic ingredients, so you should minimize skin contact.

2) Use good ventilation. Outdoor Plein Air painting is great. If this is not an option, paint with as many windows and doors open as possible. Paint in a garage with the doors open. Or use a studio with a built-in ventilation system and/or lots of windows. Use fans and air purifiers as well. I have a small window, but also use a purifier and a fan to blow any fumes out the open window. Put a ventilation mask on if you are still concerned.

3) Check the ACMI (Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) labels. This is a non-profit association that tests for toxicity in paints and media. Look for the AP (Approved Product) certified nontoxic seal on your individual paint tubes (every color may be different, even within a specific brand or line of paints). Avoid the CL label which indicates that caution should be used. In general, avoid the Cadmium colors and the Cobalt colors, including Cerulean Blue. Lead White (also known as Flake White) has been banned in most countries because of its toxicity, now selling the safer Flake White Replacement color. Most major art supply catalogs and websites will indicate the labels for each paint color. For more information, see the ACMI website.

4) Avoid turpentine and most thinners and mediums. In my research, it appears that Walnut Oil is safe and a quality choice. There is also M Graham Walnut Alkyd Medium which is non-toxic, if you’d like a fast drying medium (oils such as walnut oil are not fast drying). I have a bottle of water soluble Stand Oil at home that has the AP label. There may be other limited choices, but use caution.

5) Use simple soap and water for cleaning your brushes and hands. My art professors in college suggested we use regular dish soap for washing brushes. This is easy on the budget, as well as health. I used to swirl the brushes into the palm of my hand with soap to clean them. Now I will use a clean surface, such as my palette, to swirl, to limit the skin exposure.

6) Make sure to close all paint and medium containers as soon as you are done with them and clean up thoroughly.

With these precautions, you should be able to oil paint safely and enjoyably. If you know of any more safety tips with regards to oil painting, please let me know!

Pigs Go Public

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had a productive one…I taught my mom how to use her laptop, and, in turn, she taught me how to knit! Maybe this will be another crafty skill to incorporate into the artistic life.

Also, I recently discussed how my design was chosen for Smithfield’s Public Art Project. The press release has been sent out and the pigs are going public. Not only will I be having an interview with the Smithfield Times as one of the artists, but I’ve also made the WAVY news! Hopefully, there will be more press as time goes on and as the pigs make progress and are revealed. So far, I’ve primed my pig with gesso and have drawn the design on both sides. Next step will be to start painting the pig characters on the pig. Will keep you updated! Below is a photo of my pig (we’ll name her “Bess”) being primed on her belly…

Smithfield Pig Being Primed on Her Belly

My Pig Being Primed on Her Belly

This Little Piggy Went to Smithfield…My 1st Public Art Project

Let the “pig” jokes fly…I have been awarded the opportunity to participate in my first public art project! My design was juried and accepted by the Porcine Parade Panel, for a public art project in Smithfield, VA! For updates on this project, go the Smithfield Arts website. This will be a fun opportunity to bring the community and the arts together and promote the culture and tourism of the lovely historic town of Smithfield. You know about the well-known Cow Parade…where cities displayed custom artisticly painted and decorated cows designed by artists. Many cities have since used various animals in similar public art projects to promote tourism and excitement regarding the arts. Well, Smithfield is now living “high on the hog” with its Porcine project, where selected artists will paint/decorate pig statues, symbolizing the importance of the pig in the history and culture of Smithfield (we all know about Smithfield ham, right?)

I will be busy prepping and painting my hog for the next couple months to get ready for the big reveal in April (as I squeal with delight in hog heaven)!

Painting Baby Gift Idea

I was just reminded, as I went to a toddler twin birthday party, about the idea of painting small pictures for infants or toddlers. At our friends’ house, they decorated the twin toddlers’ room with the two little bright paintings I created 2 years ago as baby shower gifts. These paintings can be relatively easy to make, even for those who don’t normally paint. Most people enjoy a handmade creative gift, and I think, particularly, when it can become a keepsake for their little ones.

The design can be up to your imagination, but here I provide pictures of the ones I created. Small canvases can be purchased at any art supply store, and even most craft stores, such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I liked the looks of these little 8″x8″ canvases, which I bought gallery-wrapped, so that they wouldn’t require frames.

Draw a preliminary design first; choose a topic, font, and colors. For infants and young children, simple designs and patterns work best. There’s no need to be Michelangelo for this. A simple design like a ladybug or butterfly works great, especially for little girls. Once the design has been decided, it’s time to start painting! With these small canvases and simple designs, it does not take that long to paint. Solid, bright colors to emphasize the simple design work best. I find it is also nice to include the child’s name on each painting, in a fun childlike font, to further personalize the artwork. Since we are using gallery-wrapped canvases, paint the sides of the canvas in a matching color, or by extending the background color to the sides.

Allow at least a couple weeks to dry (if using oil paints; acrylics dry much more quickly). You may add a simple picture hanger or wire to the back with picture screws. Make sure you take a photograph of your masterpiece, to keep a record of your artwork. Maybe you will want to make more paintings for the future babies in your life!

Capture Your Artwork in a Blurb Book

So, I took advantage of a recent promotion offered to Zenfolio members to create and buy a Blurb book. This has been on my to-do list for a while now to showcase some of my photography and/or paintings, so I jumped at the chance. To take advantage of the temporary promotion, I needed to create my book relatively quickly, which was possible using their online book-creating tool, Bookify Online.

The most time-consuming part of the process was selecting whether I wanted to go with photography or oil paintings as the theme, and choosing which photos to use. Once these have been selected (I recommend dumping them all into a Blurb folder/directory on your hard drive), you can upload them to Bookify. For this step, the computer does most of the work. Upload all of your pics, and, depending on the speed of the connection and the size of your files, this may take a while, even hours. However, just let it do its thing, and check back every so often.

Once uploaded, Bookify provides an easy wizard type interface where you can make selections regarding how you’d like the book to look. Note that using Bookify isn’t highly customizable. However, if you want to create a book simply and quickly, this is the way to do it. Please note that you must decide on your book size before you begin! I made the mistake of selecting one size before I started, uploading and designing part of my book, to realize I wanted a different size. Well, it turns out, if you’d like a different size from what you selected, you need to start all over (if using Bookify)!

If you have more time to devote to this process, and are of the graphic designer type, Blurb provides other tools for book creation.

You can then drag your photos to each of the pages. Deciding which photos looked best together on opposing pages took a bit of time. This is a rather subjective process, but makes the overall experience of viewing your book, in my opinion, more pleasant. Photos with similar colors, tone, and comparable themes seemed to pair well. Otherwise, flipping through your book may be a more jarring and disjointed experience.

About 10 days after ordering my creation online, I recieved my book. I am pleased with the results, although next time I may spend more time experimenting with the more customizable methods of book creation.

All in all, it is a rewarding experience to see a hardcover book in high quality print containing your own artwork. I hear that this is a great marketing tool to show to would-be clients, but is also a great way to save memories of a great family vacation or honeymoon.

Keep On Keepin’ On

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Had a great weekend, despite the up-in-the-air status of my health right now. I received some out-of-town company, presented my latest oil painting to my customer, won awards in a Smithfield photography competition, enjoyed some local historic sightseeing and shopping, and made these fun buffalo burgers (see pic).

I went to the Arts @ 319 Center to find that 4 out of my 5 entries for the Pork-a-razzi Smithfield Tourism photography competition won awards! I received 3rd place overall, 1st place for Windsor Castle Park category, and 2 Honorable Mentions! My photos were nicely exhibited with the other winners and entries and I’m honored that Smithfield may be using my photos for promotional materials. Go Hamtown!

On Sunday, I was feeling creative with supper and made open-faced buffalo burgers with goat cheese, radicchio, tomato, and avocado with a drizzle of EVOO. Buffalo meat is a healthy option, which is leaner than most red meat. It also has a rich flavor and complemented the toppings quite well. Here is the simple recipe:

Open Faced Buffalo Burgers with Goat Cheese, Radicchio, Tomato & Avocado

  • 1 package ground buffalo meat (Curt found this at our local BJs)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • slices of bread or hamburger buns (I used pumpernickel)
  • a few tablespoons of goat cheese (ours was garlic flavored)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 slice of radicchio per burger
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Basically, just mix the ground meat with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and basil. Form into patties. Use your preferred method of cooking hamburgers (I used a stovetop grill pan). Place one slice of bread or half of hamburger bun on each place. Place cooked burger on top. Spread goat cheese on each burger. Top each burger with the remaining ingredients.

Bon Appetit – buffalo style!

10 Tips For Photographing Your Oil Paintings

10 tips for photographing your artwork:

I recently had an issue with a photograph of one of my paintings. The photograph was originally taken and uploaded in 2006 – 5 years ago – and it was too blurry and unable to produce a poster size high quality print. This reminded me of how much about photography I have learned in the last few years. I also can’t help but wonder if 5 years from now, I will look back and be surprised with how much I’ve learned in these 5 years. It is certainly a continual learning process. Here are 10 tips that I’ve learned about photographing artwork (particularly oil paintings):

1. Photographing artwork out on a deck or porch, generally provides the best overall natural light, unless you have heavy woods or trees that cause irregular shadows.

2. A generally cloudy or hazy day is actually better for photographing artwork on your porch or deck – it causes less glare and shadows than bright sunshine and the resulting shadows.

3. Direct lights/lamps on the artwork almost never work for me. They always seem to add shine and glare on the oil paints, which can misleadingly show up as a white area on the painting, even if it is actually a dark colored area of the artwork.

4. It may take some trial and error at the exact positioning of the artwork, to reduce glare off of oil paints (especially if you tend to paint with a lot of medium or have already varnished the painting). You also need to make sure there are no shadows affecting the surface of the painting.

5. Unless you are trying to show what kind of frame you’ve used, try to photograph the artwork without its frame. Photographs for show entries, print reproductions, etc, just need the artwork itself, not the frame used on the original. Also, the inclusion of a frame, even if cropped out of the final picture, will probably produce a shadow on the painting itself. It can take some time to properly remove (dodge) these shadows using Photoshop. Additionally, the accuracy of the photograph from the original will be reduced.

6. In my experience, no matter how hard you try, your photograph of a 2 dimensional artwork will never be completely squared to the photo. In the near future, I plan to write a post showing the step-by-step process I use in Photoshop to make the artwork look square in my photographs.

7. Do not use flash – once again, there will be problems with glare and incorrect coloring in the photograph.

8. Always use a tripod. The issue I had with that photo taken in 2006 was probably because of not using a tripod and the photo will be too blurry.

9. To reduce camera shake even further, use the camera’s self-timer or use a remote switch (either wired or wireless) to reduce the slight shake caused by pressing the shutter button.

10. Use a camera setting that has multiple focal points, such as Landscape or A-DEP settings, or adjust the F-stop to a higher number. You want the whole painting to be in focus, not just a portion of the painting.

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