Sunday, December 10, 2017

Original Sin Rebirth WIP

Hiya guys, it's coming to Christmas!Yay!.. Like many who were brought up with the tradition but who don't necessarily share the personal religious significance of the occasion anymore, it's still the best time of the year and all the joyful preparations that come with it.. 

With the celebration of the birth of one, I thought I'd write the WIP of a painting that represents the rebirth of another.

Final touches on preliminary colour composition sketch

Snakes are common throughout history in creation myths and as a symbol of reincarnation or rebirth,... one can't forget it's significance in Genesis. Ahh that wonderful story taught to our young uns, less they get it into their heads to question that which has been feed them their whole lives,.. that so neatly fits into the historical patriarchal narrative of woman being the downfall of man with their evil ways, all tied up with a pretty bow of ignorant bliss.. 

I find it ironic how the symbol of reincarnation and rebirth is placed in this narrative.. ;)

Now lets get to the real reason I created this piece, to test out a new palette and technique that I was thinking of using for my next large painting. It too will have a silver metal leaf design and rather than the alla prima approach I often take I wanted to try out a more stylized crosshatch technique. (I later also tested this out in another tiny piece 'Testing DIY Silverleaf Sealant, Size & Colour Palettes'

Snake with Woman
Colour Watercolour Sketch

With a basic idea on what elements was to be included, a little research on snakes (couldn't help it but, looking at multiple images of our otherworldly friends gave me the heebee geebees) carved out a solid idea of all the shapes, patterns and sizes of our slithery friends, to construct a hopefully convincing, less unnerving specimen for the piece.. 
With a final colour composition sketch to clarify the idea and a lovely textured canvas board prepared, the preliminary work could be begun..

Support and Gilding with Silverleaf

The canvasboard was prepared with a nice palette knife texture and a raw umber tone.. The underdrawing was traced on and then the gilding paste was painted on with a fine 00 round brush wherever the silverleaf design was to be.. I used a water-based paste, so it grew tacky enough for laying on the silverleaf relatively quickly (under 15 mins). The gilding had to be completed part by part because of this, to give me time to carefully paint the details (with the paste).

Silver metal leaf laid on and left to dry for 12 hours before brushing off.

The best part of the gilding process is when one gets to brush of the excess leaf to reveal the silver gilded design underneath..

After the excess silverleaf had been brushed off and a little tidying of the edges done (adding silverleaf where need be) it was then sealed with an acrylic gloss medium..

Starting to Paint!

The underpainting was done in layers, laying on a thin couch of linseed oil first so that I could easily scumble in the raw umber underpainting.. Each layer was left to dry as they were built up, as some areas can't be darkened enough with the thin scumbling method I was using..

Painting the scales of the snake.

To get the scaly texture of the snake, I first scumbled on a layer of paint and then removed the scale texture with a turp/linseed dipped brush. This was then lightly blurred with a soft brush, so as to leave more of a suggestion and convincing look to the scales...

Underpainting Complete
Buy a print at: 'Original Sin Rebirth Underpainting'


Although I had a rough idea on the colour palette I wanted to use I still needed to test them out in oil interacting with the underpainting and adjacent hues.. 

A few colour swatches with different colour mixtures were done and then finally a test on a few raw umber underpainted sketches..

Colour Swatches

Palette I settled on:

Titanium White, Light Red, Cad Red, Yellow Ocher, Viridian, Sap Green, Raw Umber & Ivory Black!

I never use black in my oils and if I have I can't ever remember when. However in this case the Ivory black has just the right hue to harmonize with the silver leaf.

(Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Blue was added later)
As mentioned earlier I wanted to try out a new method of applying the paint in this piece rather than the more blockish alla prima like application I had been using in recent pieces. The hues were finely crosshatched, blurring and carefully controlling the thickness of the paint by brushing off with a clean brush to ensure the translucency of the skin was maintained, not quite covering the underpainting beneath...

Crosshatch detail of forehead.

This crosshatch detailing was not done all over however, the rest being done in a scumbled layering of hues..

It was slow going working in this method at first, sometimes completely rubbing off parts to start all over after hours of work. This was unfortunately required, for if the immediate layer was not right I would lose translucency and freshness, as I continually built up the paint.. This fine crosshatching technique is quite time consuming anyways but after 3 days I slowly got the hang of things and progressed faster... :)

Ear detail

Completed on the easel

Later I also added Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Blue (primarily used for the snake but also in mixtures for the skin too). I usually use Mixing white but didn't this time till the last touches, however I think I will use it (or Flake white) for the earlier stages again for future works, as I think it'll give me a little more control when it comes to the transparency of the hues throughout.

'Original Sin Rebirth' / Winsor & Newton Oil & Silver Metal Leaf on
Galleria Gesso Primed Canvas Board / Size: 7.4 x 5.1 Inches
Available Feb'18 (after final varnish)
*note this image has not been fully color corrected due to its unvarnished state and is not a very accurate representation

This piece will only be available next February after the paint has dried enough for a final coat of varnish. 
​Till then, on to the next piece!.. :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Traveller WIP

For this piece I planned on melding the lovely linear beauty of ink crosshatching with realistic renderings in oil... A piece like this can easily look too overworked or too detailed so my aim was to try to keep my lines simple, adding each stroke, be it oil or ink, with conscious proficy so the final result was completed with the least amount of dabs or strokes possible to convey what was needed...

Preliminary Sketch

After a few brainstorming sessions, sketches, and a clear idea of what I wished to achieve, I needed plan out the method and process since so many different materials (with different needs) would be coming into play with this piece. All the water based mediums would need to be applied and sealed appropriately before the final alla prima oil paint layer, and be able to withstand, as much as possible, any future cleaning / restoration that an oil painting would usually go through.

Testing different sealers over the ink
I love the beauty of crosshatched ink drawings done in warm brown tones, however coloured inks are generally not lightfast and to protect the final ink drawing as much as possible I wished to be able to varnish it with UV protected varnish. 
So after multiple tests on the back of the canvasboard I was to use, I found a good spray of archival fixative ( used for charcoal drawings ) worked at fixing the ink enough to apply a quick layer of clear acrylic on top ( I had to ensure the acrylic was applied at one go though as multiple brushing risked the ink lifting off).. Once the acrylic was applied over the ink, it would be truly protected and ready for the uv protection varnish and any future revarnishing treatment it may go through... 

With that worry sorted out, I was able to transfer the outline of my sketch to the canvasboard and begin the ink drawing with freehand crosshatch.. I used W&N Peat Brown Ink with a dip pen, using a tiny brush when I needed to load up on the ink for the really dark passages..

I was able to remove the W&N easily with turps whenever I wished to improve a passage because I had traced my outlined sketch with carbon ink paper which is incredibly permanent.

With the ink layer complete and fixed with the UV protection archival fixative, it was now time to apply the gilding paste for the silverleaf. Clear acrylic gloss medium would then be applied all over the piece to protect not only the ink but the silverleaf from tarnishing. (note* I have since stopped using clear acrylic gloss to seal silverleaf as it tends to dull the shine quite a bit, and am currently testing alternatives).

Brushing off extra silver metal leaf
It was important to apply the fixative first to ensure the ink was dry to the touch and not tacky, or the silverleaf might adhere to the ink as well.
For the silver metal leaf, I used a water-based gilding paste that was tacky enough within 5 - 10mins to start laying on the silverleaf.
The extra silverleaf was then brushed off the next day once the size had completely dried. 
​After the first brush off, the silverleaf details were refined or added on, as I assessed the composition.

With the silverleaf done, I clarified a few tiny details with a mixture of ink and clear acrylic.
It was now ready for a coating of clear acrylic gloss. I applied two layers, full strength from the tube as any thinner and it would have beaded up over the slick silver leaf surface. It was now ready for the oil paint layer.

Silverleaf done and ready for the oil paint layer.

A simple palette of Cad Red, Cad Yellow Light, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Violet, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and an Alkyd of Titanium white was used. Throughout, I tried to keep my strokes simple and applied correctly straight away.. If I fiddled even a little (more than 2-3 strokes in the same place) I removed the paint and started again..

On the easel

Since I had used Alkyd (fast drying oil paint) 'The Traveller' was dry enough and ready for a final coat of W&N Artists UV Varnish in only 3 months.

Here it is complete (scanned with my new Epson Perfection V39 scanner!!)
Now, because of the ink, this piece will need to be displayed away from sunlight as much as possible even more so than an oil painting, however I really love the mixed media look of this (especially on the stoney like effect support) and will definitely do more in similar fashion in the future.. :) 

'The Traveller' / Ink, Silver metal leaf & Oil on Canvasboard / Size: 5.1 x 7.4 Inches

Don't forget to drop by my 'On The Easel...' page to see my works in progress in almost real time!..

Ta for now folks!!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment

Hiya guys, this here is the second part of the improvements I did for my easel recently, focusing on the WIP of the 'Mahl Stick' this time. (Check out the first part at 'Making a Simple Shelf Addition for Easel').
 I've used a traditional mahl stick in the past with the padded end covered with fabric, but having to hold it in one hand while anchoring it to the easel or artwork while I worked (not ideal) was really restrictive and just made the whole process awkward and uncomfortable.. Needless to say I hardly ever used one..

There had to be a better alternative. Thus with a little online search I discovered quite a few artists had struggled with the same problems and had come up with their own alternatives.. None of them were exactly what I wanted however but they did help me come up with one that I hoped would work perfectly for me and would be quick and easy to make myself.

Here the mahl stick has been attached to the right side of the slider, and can move freely along that side. If I wish to have it on the left side I just have to slide it out of the right end and slide it back in on the left side of the slider..

The Mahl Stick has been attached to the easels header that slides up and down freely so as to accommodate a variety of artwork sizes. The mahl stick is attached to the header with a slider that enables me to slide the mahl stick left to right.Unfortunately the mahl stick is blocked from moving through the middle because of the header, however this is not too much of a problem as it can be slide out from one side of the slider and into the other quite easily.

Equipment Used
  • Handsaw
  • 2 G-Clamps (to hold wood while sawing and for clamping wood that were being stuck together)
  • Power drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking Tape

Materials for Mahl Stick (including handscrew fixture used to attach it to the slider)
  • 2 pieces of 0.5"x 0.5"x 44" in length wood (it can be longer but this is what I had and it was fine for my purposes)
  • 2 pieces of 0.5" x 0.2" x 2.5" in length wood
  • 2.7" Set screw (anything between this and 2" would work fine too)
  • Hand Knob (was lucky to have an extra one retrieved from an old music stand I had)
  • 2 flat washers
  • 1 metal nut
  • PVA wood Glue
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

From left: 2.7" set screw, 2 flat washers, metal nut, hand knob

The 0.5 " x 0.2" had not been
cut to 2.5" yet in this pic

Making the Mahl Stick

1. Once the wood was cut to the lengths needed, the thinner 0.5" x 0.2" x 2.5" pieces were sandwiched & clamped (with the PVA glue) between both ends of the 0.5" x 0.5" x 44" pieces of wood (using my G clamps which were not ideal for the job but worked fine in the end) till the glue had thoroughly dried. This left me with a 44" mahl stick with a 39"gap running along its middle.

2. Once the glue had completely dried, the mahl stick was given a good sanding with nice rounded/curved edges.

One end of the mahl
stick right after sanding

3. A liberal layer of thick linseed oil was then applied over the wood and then left to dry for a few days. ( for the best protection one should apply more than one layer till the wood stops absorbing the oil as much)

All the parts of the handscrew fixture put together.

With the mahl stick done, next is the slider!

Materials for Slider attached to Adjustable Easel Header
  • 2 pieces of 0.75"x 0.75"x 26" in length wood (this too can be longer depending on your needs and studio space)
  • 1 pc 0.25" x 0.75"x 3" plywood
  • 2 pc 2.5" long screws
  • Adjustable Header (that came with my easel)
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

From top: 0.75" x 0.75" wood, 2.5" screws,
0.25" x 0.75 " x 3 plywood, 0.75" x 0.75" wood, header.

My easels adjustable header right side up

As I mentioned in my previous post, my easel has an adjustable header that can be moved freely up and down the whole length of the easel, and be fastened in place where need be to hold artwork in place from the top.

However this header (above) has a thick edge that can cast quite a nasty shadow over the work underneath and also makes it difficult to paint the tops of my art-pieces. Thus I never use it and it usually sits way up, far above my artwork. However it was perfect to secure the slider for the mahl stick.

Making the Mahl Stick Slider

1. With the pieces of wood cut to size, the centers were marked and the  0.25" x 0.75"x 3" plywood was sandwiched dead center between the 0.75"x 0.75"x 26" pieces of wood. This center was then tightly wrapped with masking tape to hold all in place for the next stage.

2. With the G clamps I then clamped my sandwiched & taped pieces of wood, dead center to the bottom of the header (to be honest if I wasn't careful the clamps would slide off and the whole thing was rather precarious. My drilled holes were not quite straight as a result but that is more of an esthetic gripe for me rather than a utilitarian one). The side of the wood flush with the headers groove. 

The side of the slider wood flush with the headers groove.

3. Two holes were then drilled for the 2.5" screws that were to hold all the wood and header together.

Header with the slider wood screwed in with the 2.5" screws.
( A layer of linseed oil has already been applied to the slider in this image)

4. After checking everything screwed in and fit properly together, it was all dismantled again and the wood seasoned with a liberal layer of thick linseed oil for protection and a rich finish. As for the mahl stick this was left to dry for a few days before it was all reassembled again.

Testing before disassembling it
again to be seasoned with linseed oil.

The slider reassembled after it had been seasoned with linseed oil.

Putting it all together

Now with all the parts complete, all that needed to be done was to get just the right tension/ tightness so that the mahl stick would not budge with the hand knob fully tightened, by adjusting the nut on the mahl sticks handscrew fixture.

The mahl stick attached to the slider.

With the nut set at just the right distance, all that needs to be done to tighten or loosen the mahl stick to the slider are a few twists to the hand knob. The mahl stick is thus moved freely or held solidly in place with ease.

More info on this painting can be found at The Dress.

Thus far everything has been working as I had hoped. The little piece above being the latest to benefit from the new additions.. 

Hopefully this disorderly post was helpful, don't hesitate to drop me a message if you have any questions guys! 

Ta for now!.. 

Making a Simple Shelf Addition for Easel

Hi guys! This new attached mahl stick and extra easel shelf was so simple to make and has been such an invaluable addition to my studio since, I knew I had to drop by and post about it, and who knows it may help you make your own!.. To make things a little clearer I've made two separate posts for the shelf and attached mahl stick. This post focuses on the shelf.

The extra ledge/shelf made to hold my smaller art pieces higher up on my easel.

All together the new attached Mahl Stick and Added Shelf. I also added some wrought iron fixtures on the right side of my easel for easy access to my masking tape and tissue paper as I work..

As one who prefers standing at my easel so I can move back and around with ease, checking how my artworks look from afar and whatnot as I work, I needed a shelf that could be moved right up to eye level, so I could even paint tiny ACEO's at the easel if I wanted to. The shelf that my H-frame easel was built with would only move as high as my waist, perfect for one who only paints large paintings of at least 24 inches high, not so much if one creates works under 20 inches high as regularly as I do... I also wanted to be able to paint the bottom edges of my art-pieces with ease, so a narrow shelf was essential. 

Equipment Used
  • Handsaw
  • 2 G-Clamps (to hold wood while sawing)
  • Power drill
  • 1/2" Chisel
  • Sandpaper

Materials for Shelf Addition
  • 1"x 2" wood cut to 17" in length (a little less than the horizontal length of my easels frame)
  • Hand screw
  • tiny 0.2" screw (to screw in copper sheet over handscrew end)
  • 1.5" x 0.5" copper sheet (this is to protect the easel bar that the shelf will be screwed on to from being scratched)
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

My easel has an adjustable header that can be moved freely up and down the whole length of the easel, and be fastened in place where need be to hold artwork in place from the top. All I needed to do was copy how the header was grooved and was attached to the easels middle bar, to create the shelf I needed.

My easels adjustable header right side up.

The adjustable header (above) would still be used as usual with the new shelf, though this particular header has a thick edge that can cast quite a nasty shadow over the work underneath and also makes it difficult to paint the tops of my art-pieces.Thus I don't really use it, however it turned out to be quite useful for the mahl stick set up I was to add later - Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment

Making The Extra Shelf

  1. After sawing my 1"x 2" wood (they call it this but in actual fact the wood it only about 0.75" x 1.65") to the length needed=17", the exact shape of the grooves of the header were copied (drawn on the wood) as a guide for shelf's groove too. I don't know if you can see from the picture below but the side edges have a slight 60 degree angle to them, which is what holds it to the middle bar of the easel (which is also shaped to fit accordingly).

  2. Carving the back of the shelf addition exactly the same as the back of my easel header.

  3. In order to fasten the shelf in place on the easel bar, I needed a handscrew like the header, lucky for me I just so happened to have a few that I could use from an old broken portable easel of mine. They were much smaller, but that was a good thing as I would be able to place boards and such in front of the shelf without the handscrew being in the way, when not in use. The header also had a thin sheet of metal covering the end of the screw to protect the bar it would be attached to from scratches.. Below as you can see I cut a piece of copper as this protective sheet (luckily found a tiny screw to screw it in place) and drilled a hole for the handscrew once the wood had been carved to shape.

    All the materials needed: Metal handscrew, tiny 0.2" screw, copper sheet (already with hole in), already carved and drilled 1"x 2" wood.

    Here you can see the slight angle of the edges of the carved groove. The handscrew is screwed in thus and the copper sheet screwed over the top of its end to prevent the easel bar it will be attached to from being scratched.

  4. At this point, all the parts were screwed in together and the shelf slide onto the easels middle bar, just to test everything was in working order.

    The back of the shelf addition with the copper sheet already screwed in, just like the header

    Before applying a finish to my new easel additions, I just made sure everything worked perfectly when assembled completely

  5. It worked perfectly, so disassembling all the parts once again, the wood was given a good sanding with nice rounded edges and then was protected with a finish of thick cheap linseed oil which was just rubbed in with a rag.
  6. Once the finish was dry, it was ready to be put back together and slide on the easel ready to use!.. 

The new shelf in use for one of my tiny ACEO's (the ACEO is really very thin so I stuck it to a slightly larger stretched canvas which was, as you can see clamped between the new shelf and upside down header)

You can check out how the mahl stick set up was made by hopping on over to my next post Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Simple Artpaper Shelves Add On

With new changes going on at home, I took the opportunity with all the upheaval to give a fresh coat of paint and redesign both my studio and bedroom!

A little peek at the new studio look: A new neutral hue for the walls (I used Nippon:Nightingale), added shelves above my computer, converted the bottom half of my book shelf for paper roll storage and some new lighter transparent curtains to let in more light!...

I also found myself without a studio table or a place to store my artpapers flat.. Fortunately with the help of the world wide web I was able to find a really great almost new second hand Ikea Norden extendable solid wood table. 

All that was needed now was a place to store them artpapers. 
Thus my novice carpenter skills were once again pulled out and brushed off for these Really Simple Artpaper Shelves added on to the new table ! Having them be part of my studio table would not only make them super convenient but save oodles of space!

Ok they may not look that impressive but they do the job. Sherlock ever ready for some loving distraction.

I shan't be going though the WIP with as much detail as usual but it was a pretty simple process, so hopefully you can get quite a clear idea anyways..  

1. Decided to use some Ikea solid beech wood we had left over from our kitchen renovations for the shelves, as it matched the new Norden table perfectly. It was Super Hard wood though, but thanks to the lads at, their powersaw cut it in to planks in a jiffy!.. :)

My impossible first attempt at using a hand saw for the task.. Thank goodness for
Two planks were cut about 5.8 inches high, enough for two shelves of about 2 inches high each.

2. Now the only hard part, carving the end joints to fit the table legs.

It took me a full 2 days to carve all the joints of this hard wood, but depending on your physical strength or how soft/hard the wood is, you could probably do this with much less time and effort. 

3. 90 degree metal right angle brackets were then screwed in on the inside to support the plywood I would be inserting as shelves later. 
A drill was used to aid in making the holes for the screws first. I let the 2nd row of holes of the bottom shelf 90 degree brackets run off the woods edge as I thought they might be useful in the future...

4. All that was left was to drill/screw in the shelf sides that had been carved to fit on to the tables legs.

Before: The table was assembled halfway for easy drilling, before adding the sides of the shelves.
After: The shelf sides have been screwed in, the table is now ready to be assembled fully, turned over and then the plywood shelves slide in!..

5. Plywood was cut to size and just slide in over the 90 degree brackets.. The plywood does bow a little in the middle under the weight of all my artpapers, but it's still sturdy enough..

Just love how the Ikea beech wood blends perfectly with the rest of the table.

 Hopefully this helps you create your own undoubtedly better set of shelves for your artpapers!..

Thanks for dropping by!.. :)