Sunday, April 20, 2008

Maggie on Art Materials, Part III

"Thursday" - set of sketches in my sketchbook.
copyright 2008 Maggie Stiefvater.

Remember, the sketchbook will be given away to a random blog subscriber when it's full, so sign up for the blog even if you don't read it through your e-mail if you want to have a chance to win it! (I'm about half-way through the current sketchbook at the moment)

Sorry about the delay! My brother whisked my computer away to HighSpeedInternetLand to get updates downloaded and so I was without computer access. However, it did give me a nice long day to get other things done, especially since Sunday is my lazy day. After drinking four glasses of sweet tea, I decided it was time I try a fun looking project that my friend Vivien Blackburn mentioned to me. It's a comic strip of your day done in twelve panels, done from memory rather than observation. Hers is rather prettier than mine but it was a lot of fun regardless. The hardest part was trying to figure out how to illustrate novel-writing! All the exciting stuff having to do with writing a novel goes on in my head . . . to the uninitiated, I'm just staring blankly at a computer screen.

Anyway, Vivien has captions for hers but I think I'll let you puzzle out what mine is without. I'd love to see any of my blog readers tackle this -- if you do, be sure to let Vivien know on her blog.

Okay, onto the questions from the last posts. There are just a few -- let me know if I missed you.

1. About solvents. Have you tried "eco-house extra mild citrus thinner #115?" It is as you described the British solvent that you order. This is made in Canada, and I think I got my last batch from Dick Blick. Smells nice. For even lower toxicity you can't beat Gamblin's Gamsol. It just doesn't smell quite as nice.:-)

I've had this mentioned to me quite a few times but I've never gotten around to ordering it. I think I've now been officially pushed over the edge, however (my husband would argue that happened a long time ago), and I'm going to give it a try.

2. Hi Maggie, which retailer do you trust to place your overseas order with?

I don't really have too much call to order overseas except to order Zest-It, as mentioned in the solvents post, and the few times that I ordered from Canadian super-art-store, Curry's, which went off without a hitch. Other than that, I haven't had much experience with it . . . I think if I were choosing an overseas retailer, I'd be tempted to google their name to find out if there is anyone talking smack about them online (that's slang, did you catch it? I'm so hip) and then I would decide between the final two by determining which company's sales representatives had the most charming foreign accent.

3. I have a question related to the pastelbord (although I suppose this could apply to any support) and solvents: Do you find that the application of solvent limits the number of layers that you can apply?

I actually find the opposite to be true. If I'm really between a wall and a hard place (which, um, really are the same things, did you notice?) layerwise, I'll usually add some solvent, because it'll let me get another layer down on top. Now -- layers on top of solvent do behave completely differently than layers pre-solvent, so that's something to experiment with. I don't think I'd go around adding solvent to a portrait commission before I had tried it on something that I wasn't afraid to make Excrutiatingly Ugly.

4. have you ever tried working on metal? as a metalsmith i haven't tried it yet, but it is all the rage right now. the metal has to be sandblasted so the pencil can grip, but its quite a neat effect. i think its rachelle thiewes that has done it best, especially in her sculpture pieces.

Metal is something I hadn't thought of -- I can only imagine that layers must be a thing of the past working on a surface like that, because there's nothing to absorb the layers. I tried googling her but didn't find anything immediately accessible.

5. I like Colourfix alot and was just wondering how you choose a background/support color to use. Sometimes I use a color that is in the subject alot (like cream or tan for a drawing of a yellow lab ) and sometimes I use a complementary color for the punchy contrast. Is there any color you prefer/would order a bunch of?

I always use the dark colors of Colorfix, because I prefer working on darker supports (my work tends to be mostly dark with elements of light, because I am Wednesday Addams). I also prefer the warm colors -- the brown and the red in particular -- because my work tends to be warmer. I would just keep in mind when I was ordering that colored supports are supposed to save you work. If you're doing a dark piece, you want a dark surface. If you're doing a warm piece, pick a warm color, etc. If you're doing a cool piece on red, you'll kill yourself trying to beat back that red. Colored papers should be a time-saver, not an ulcer-causer.

Okay! I'm hitting the sack. Let me know if I missed you and if there's anything you'd like to see me tackle as a series post for next week. Otherwise, I'll be announcing my next one Monday night.


Miki Willa said...

I am a big fan of Colourfix. I choose the colors for the end result I want to achieve. Sometimes, I select a complementary color to bring out the colors in the painting. If I want a more somber mood, I will choose a cool color. I think it is important to select the background color based on what you want the painting to convey.

vivien said...

this is great! and very easy to visualise your day :>D

Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie, I'm new here, and really enjoying your posts. One idea that I have for a series is this. How do you decide when a piece is finished and put it to bed? I struggle with knowing when to quit and when to go for more details in my art.