Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Make the World's Sexiest Brush Rinser

Posted by: Kate

Say hello to my brush rinser:
Hay guyz!
I never used to use much Gamsol while painting.  I would go through about a teaspoon a day while painting, and then use a little more at the end of the day to wipe my brushes clean before soaping up.  I never needed a rinser.  Instead I would grab a new clean brush when necessary.  It wasn't unusual to have twenty dirty brushes at the end of a day.  But I was modelling for Tara Juneau last year and I noticed she uses her brush rinser more than Bob Ross himself.  Now, I love Tara's paintings.  Therefore, I decided to make a brush rinser so that I could make like Tara and Bob Ross it up.  My paintings still don't look like hers, but I like to imagine I look as glamorous as she does when I use it.  I use it constantly while working and sometimes get away with as few as two dirty brushes a day.

Why not buy one?  Most brush cleaners I've seen only have about an inch of room underneath the grill, and then about five or six inches of unusable space up top.  That's stupid.  I want to fill that nasty jar full of toxic gunk and not have to get myself a new one for several years.

I used an old mayo jar the first time around and it was a headache to get the grill in.  I recommend you get yourself a sturdy tupperware with a screw lid.  No snap lids and NO GLASS.  This isn't a BPA-free snack hour at the local Pre-K.  You want something sturdy and smash-proof.

Cut out a square of 1/4 inch avian steel mesh.

Mark off the height of your "shelf" on an old plastic bottle.

Cut up that bottle and stick it in your rinse jar.  I like to cut out a couple little teeth that will stick up through the grill to keep it from shifting around too much.

Now push the grill down over top.  Fill up with mineral spirits to about half an inch above the lowest part of the grill and get ready to rock and roll.  Stay sexy, readers.

Addendum:  Now I know you all collectively lost your heads when we discussed how to make panels but didn't give a detailed list of every aluminum composite provider in North America so that you could all quickly look up your nearest provider.  Avian mesh is also challenging to find.  You will want to find someone who breeds birds (Craigslist is a good place to start).  These handy folk make their own cages and have scrap avian mesh lying around, theoretically.  Or you could get some half-inch chicken wire, which is probably easier to find, but I like the quarter inch aviary stuff pictured above best.  Or, cannibalize an old mesh strainer (50 cents at Goodwill) or ask your local hardware store if they have something appropriate.  I don't know.  You're all brilliant and smart and resourceful.  When you figure something out, share the results in the comments so that others can benefit from your smarts.

And, heeey, did you notice we now have bylines?  Thanks Amanda for suggesting that.  When you've been sharing a toothbrush with someone for seven years you forget that other people actually view you as separate beings, and that they might want to know which half of the borg is narrating a post.

UPDATE 2017: I've noticed that certain brands of tupperware distort after coming in contact with either the solvent or the oil in the paint (not entirely sure which is the source of the problem.  I think oil).  My attempts to use Ziploc scew lid tupperwares resulted in brush rinsers that couldn't be screwed shut after their first few weeks of life (didn't stop me from using them for two years!)  I've now gone back to using mayo and peanut butter jars.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cheating in Art?

Posted by: Dave

I remember when I was in art college (referred to as the dark times) I was working on an oil painting of figures in a desert landscape. My roommate was in the illustration program and worked primarily with the software program Maya;  though he had an extensive drawing background.  I would often ask why he had put down his drawing tools for the computer, often inferring that he had given up something more valid, more challenging, and something that was more "art" since computers could do some of the work for you. He said to me one day "Art is about creating a window into a world, would you agree?" I did. He then said "in your painting, it's only one view from one angle, one time of day, one feeling... in mine I can literally go anywhere. My possibilities are endless and that is my goal." This opened up my mind a bit.  If his means of executing his art meant he could accomplish his goals, then was it really cheating or in any way less valid.  Of course, we all know that computers are just a trend and most likely won't stay around long.

Which brings me to the question, is there cheating in art?  For me, "cheating in art" now seems like a childish thing to say when someone doesn't like how someone else does things.  "You cut in line, you cheated" or "no peeking, you cheated" or "you had access to insider trading for the frozen orange juice concentrate industry, you cheated."  I find so often that people discredit art and artists after they learn of their process.  So the question is, should it be the end product that speaks for itself?  Should process be considered and where is the line drawn?  That being said, here is a list of aids I use to help create my work.  I would wonder why some are considered cheating and some are not depending on who you ask.

1) a black mirror
2) a knitting needle for measuring
3) photography
4) a mahl stick
5) color studies
6) drawing transfers
7) my wife's advice
8) coffee
9) ADD meds
10) viewfinder
11) hiring models

For the sake of the article and reader sanity, I will only touch upon a couple of these.

First up, photography.  So is photography and hiring models cheating?  Some artists feel you should be able to make up everything from imagination for it to have any real originality.  However, as we know from history, very few people "make up stuff" out of their heads, including many fine artists and famous illustrators, including Parrish, Rockwell, and Frazetta. Reference is integral to making anything look realistic, at least it has been for me. Even many fantasy illustrators will sculpt miniature dinosaurs, ships, etc, just to insure...ensure......make certain the lighting is correct. But again, this leads the question, should you only work from life as reference, or are photographs ok?  As many of us know, models are pricey, and their time is limited.  I use photos when I have no other choice, and defaulting to nothing but self portraits even though I look exactly like Ryan Gosling is not always what I want to do.  I use photos at times because I want to make the art I want to make, and often it entails figures that cannot pose for me for long sittings.  Many people however don't feel that way.  I wanted to show a couple examples of some paintings I liked that utilized photographs, and in my opinion, did it well.

Second on the plate, is it ok to reference the past in your work?  Is it derivative?  Is every idea expected to be completely original?  If so, I might be screwed.  Pretty sure everything that can be done in art, has been done, and legend has it people have painted fisherman, hunters, and still lifes before me.  However, there is a lot of bad info on the internet so it might not be true and I invented the genre.   I am doing a piece right now that is completely inspired by Raeburn's "Archers", both in subject matter and some compositional elements.  I wanted to include some examples of artists who I admire who utilized the past for inspiration, and in my opinion, still bringing something new to the table.

Is having help from other artists cheating?  If Kate points out a mistake, does that discredit my efforts?  (And I am referring to a painting mistakes in this case and not how she hates how I use the sink as a mop bucket instead of filling up the real one.  Seriously, try it, it's awesome.) Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to follow the path of the professional student, but if I have two colors studies and I don't know which to choose, then I get  a second opinion. I know there is a stereotype of the lonestar artist genius, but art is much more of a community than that I would hope at least.  Bottom line is, everyone is going to have an opinion, and sometimes these opinions help you out in your work.

Lastly, is memorizing all the words that use an "X" cheating when you play scrabble.  Kate's family does this and I say, damn right it's cheating. Which brings me to the main point of this article;  how much I hate playing scrabble with Kate's family.  They are so much more literate than I am, and will never let me use words like "turdify" or "spazztastic" because they aren't in their little dictionary of English "words."