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

Posts tagged ‘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

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!

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.

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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