THE ARTISTIC LIFE – Living the creative life in everything we do

Posts tagged ‘oil painting’

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

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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!

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!

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.

Dog Portrait Painting Finished

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I’ve recently finished painting a dog portrait I was commissioned to work on, from a set of photos. Galahad was a beautiful subject to work from. The recipient of this painting has a minimalist style for decor, so I thought a modern minimalist frame would work well. I couldn’t find the right finish in the frame I wanted, so after receiving the frame, I sanded and stained it in a Pecan gloss. I think it suits the piece. What do you think?

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