Category Techniques and Tips


Techniques and Tips

Home Is Where the Art Is

Every year, artists travel through Europe to discover the perfect composition for their next painting. Others seek to copy masterworks from prestigious museums in order to develop their work. But for artist Karen Noles, inspiration was right in her backyard the whole time. Noles lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, an open reservation that also houses non-Native Americans like herself.
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Techniques and Tips

At your disposal: oils and solvents

Q. Our painting studio, where we teach oil painting, needs some sort of system to catch brush-cleaning waste. We receive federal grants and need to be in compliance with federal and state environmental regulations. Can you provide information on which disposal system we need and where it can be purchased?
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Techniques and Tips

Switching From Glossy to Matte Varnish

Q. I mistakenly applied glossy damar varnish to an oil painting that had been drying for several months, but I would’ve preferred a matte finish. Is there a way for me to still give the piece a matte look?A. Damar varnish, made from the resin of coniferous Asian trees, is applied to oil paintings to protect them from dust and other airborne contaminants.
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Techniques and Tips

Repairing a Cut in a Painted Canvas

Q. I have a large oil painting, 36×48 inches, which has been cut. The cut is clean, only about 1? inches, but is right through the canvas and in roughly the center of the painting. This is one of my best works and I would like to know if there is any way to repair such damage. As I mentioned, I painted it in oil, using Liquin medium, on canvas, and sprayed it with Golden MSA (mineral spirit acrylic) varnish.
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Techniques and Tips

Hand-Painted Paper

Anne Bagby, an artist from Winchester, Tennessee, gave up still life painting for mixed media and collage. She will often get obsessed with a certain pattern—paisley, for instance—until she tires of it, and then she’ll move on to another pattern. For her collages, she uses three kinds of paper, each inexpensive and easy to come by:Lineco archival tissue paper available online or at craft storesDeli paper (essentially tissue paper that’s been covered with acrylic) from Sam’s or CostcoBook paper/paper from old atlases available from eBay.
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Techniques and Tips

Claybord

Q. What is Claybord and what are the advantages of using it? What medium is it best suited for? Is it archival?A. Claybord, manufactured specifically for use by artists, is a registered trademark of Ampersand Art Supply ( 800/822-1939). It’s characterized as a hardboard material prepared for compatibility with a variety of media.
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Techniques and Tips

Creating Mood

A chance photograph captured the quiet mood of a rainy late-night street scene and became the inspiration for artist Ann Nihal’s painting, Rainglow, Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie (watercolor, 7×12). The deserted sidewalks, a single parked car and shimmering puddles of reflected light from shops long since closed down add to the tranquil feeling of the piece.
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Techniques and Tips

Copying drawings onto watercolor paper

Q. I’ve heard about people copying drawings onto watercolor paper using a copier, but when I tried it, the ink bled. Is waterproof ink available for home copiers?A. Yes, I’ve heard about this, too, and have done it. Your home copier, however, probably uses water-based inkjet ink, which may be the cause of the bleeding.
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Techniques and Tips

Aiming for Accuracy

Strong drawings often play a pivotal role in representational art?they provide a framework that can make or break the final work. But even if you?re still developing your drawing skills, a good likeness is within your reach. There are some easy and reliable tools for improving the accuracy of your drawings, and getting familiar with these will help to give your paintings the strong foundation they need.
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Techniques and Tips

Making a Point

Stippling is many things: It?s challenging and satisfying, yet it?s frustrating and mundane. It?s not a technique for the weak-willed, for the time and commitment required to create a successful stipple drawing are considerable, but the range of values and the subtle effects you can achieve with it are truly unique.
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Techniques and Tips

Colored Pencil Techniques

After you’ve gathered your tools, begin working on your technique. Colored pencils’ translucence lets you use them in glazing layers. The process is similar to watercolor techniques but produces an oil painting effect. For example, if you use an underpainting of lighted areas with various yellows, the light will shine through subsequent layers of pencil.
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Techniques and Tips

Thomas Thayer: The Need for Speed

Trilogy (colored pencil, 30×20)I work primarily in colored pencil and am drawn to scenes of high contrast. My mind operates on a 24-hour creative clock, picking up ideas for my artwork from songs, dreams or just walking down the street. To solve the problem of too little time and too many ideas, I’ve developed some timesaving techniques that can help you increase your production.
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Techniques and Tips

Keeping Acrylics Fresh

Q. Is there a shelf life for acrylic paints? What can I do to make them last longer?A. You should be able to store your unopened acrylic paints for a few years without experiencing significant changes in their consistency or working qualities. However, there are several factors that reduce their shelf life and may render then useless.
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Techniques and Tips

Fixatives and pastel

Q. I haven’t used a fixative for my pastel paintings for more than 30 years because of the fixative’s tendency to change the color of the pastel pigment. I’m considering integrating more wax-based pastels just to try the metallic pigments, though, and would like to start using fixative again. What fixative(s) would you suggest to use with multiple brands and types of pastels?
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Techniques and Tips

6 Tips for Creating Abstract Art

Abstraction isn’t the most popular artistic mode around. Sure, it has a loyal (and growing) group of practitioners, and it makes up a large portion of what’s hanging on the walls of fashionable New York art galleries. But many artists and appreciators tend to keep their distance, perhaps because they’re intimidated by it or because they don’t trust those snooty galleries.
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Techniques and Tips

Protecting Your Collage

Q. I’ve made a collage of tissue paper and watercolors on foamboard, assembled with acrylic collage medium. What’s the best way to protect this type of work? Would a solution of Elmer’s glue and water be sufficient, or is there a special varnish available?Barbara LipkinNaperville, ILA. While Elmer’s glue may have its uses, it was never intended to be used as a varnish, and with good reason.
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Techniques and Tips

Commission tips

Q. Since I’ve started painting, I’ve done portraits of a few friends and secured a few commissions from around my neighborhood. Now I want to start taking on more commissions. How do I create a larger client base and where do I find more people interested in commissioning my work? If I can’t find interested people, does this mean I’m not ready to take commissions?
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Techniques and Tips

Transporting Large Paintings

Large paintings can be extremely difficult to transport. If you absolutely must roll the painting, here are some guidelines:Make sure the painting is thoroughly dry on the surface—at least two weeks.Keep in mind that a young paint film is more pliable than an older, brittle paint layer.Roll the painting face out.
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Techniques and Tips

Lightfastness Testing for Pastels

What You’ll Need:• Pastel paper (8×10 white, sanded pastel paper that will accommodate your samples)• Wood board or very thick-ply matboard serving as a hard support. This needs to be an inch larger all around the perimeter than the sheet of paper that will hold the test samples.• The pastels you typically use• Opaque matboard cut to 1-inch-wide strips• Blue wool test card*• A mask* that contains a strip of colored material with blue-gray rectangle• PencilOrienting the sheet with the longer side placed vertically, draw horizontal lines to form boundary divisions that will contain your pastel test samples.
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Techniques and Tips

Back Runs

Every watercolor artist has experienced an accidental back run—when a drop of water creates a “bloom” in a freshly painted wash. But for painting leaves, flowers and trees, I like to use intentional back runs to create mottled color, a feeling of foliage and the appearance of uneven lighting conditions.
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