Monday, March 25, 2013

Keeping Stored Oil Paint Fresh for the Palette


Over the years I’ve tried many ways of preserving paint, using everything from closeable palette boxes; which only work in the short term – ultimately the paint hardens, or submerging blobs of paint in water overnight; works okay, but it’s a chore fishing the paint out of the water and getting it ready to work with, and there may also be problems with the water breaking down the binder. Overall, the best and easiest way I found was to put the whole palette in the freezer. However, as my palettes have grown larger this has become less convenient.


Recently I learned a new trick. I have smaller pieces of glass to hold the paint, like these from School Specialty. These are lightweight and have smooth beveled edges. I load them with individual colors and line them up around my regular palette. I take color from the smaller glass panes and mix it on the larger glass. The smaller glass stays clean and at the end of the day I put them in the freezer. The cold slows down oxidation so that the paint doesn’t dry out. They are small enough that they don’t take up too much room.


The panes are 4 x 6 inches; inexpensive and small enough to slide into a Tupperware container to prevent accidentally getting oil paint inside the freezer.

Why save paint? One – it’s economical to do so and two, I’m keeping in mind that some of these pigments are mined and once they’re gone - they’re gone. I prefer not to waste them. Three, I don’t want to add anything to landfills if I don't have to. Four, any leftover paint fragments need to be dry before tossing and it’s messy and space consuming to have smears of half used color scattered about drying.

I like to put out more than enough color on the palette when I start painting. Have you ever heard “paint like a millionaire?” It seems to me this makes the work looser and more confident, plus it seems a waste of time and stops the flow to stop in the middle of painting a passage to squeeze out more color.

Please feel free to share this post if you find it helpful!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pencil Appreciation

atmospheric, clouds, Angeles Forest, small sketch,  Katherine Kean, graphite on paper
Clouds Moving Over the Angeles Forest Sketch  ©2013 Katherine Kean
graphite on paper approx 8 x 8 inches

This past two weeks saw me trip a circuit breaker by turning on the vacuum, while one of my computers randomly and stubbornly refused to burn anything to a CD. Then a space heater died, my hair dryer died, and the oven stopped working, followed two days later by the microwave. The oven simply cooled down and then refused to warm back up. The microwave on the other hand went out in a shower of sparks and arcs of blue electricity crawling across the outside of the door, leaving little burn marks in its wake.

While all of these technical issues are being resolved I’m feeling very grateful for my pencil. It’s very reliable, always ready to go, easy to carry, and doesn’t need an outlet. It doesn’t require warming up, or cooling off and it won’t over heat and shut itself down or refuse to start. I don’t need to study a confusing owner’s manual to use it and it doesn’t require technical support, service calls, repairs, or upgrades. It works very much the same way each and every time I use it - no matter how long it has been since the last time I needed it.

More pencil facts:

Pencils write in zero gravity and although I’ve yet to try it, apparently under water. (But on what?)

A typical pencil can write as many as 45,000 words. A single pencil can make a line 35 -70 miles long.

Pencils were invented in 1565, but didn't get embedded erasers until the 1800s. I also hear that pencils without erasers are more common in Europe.

March 30th is Pencil Appreciation day.

"The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser - in case you thought optimism was dead. Robert Brault 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting Back to Work

"Try to end a day's work on a picture knowing how to proceed the next day." Irwin Greenberg

Marsh House, Katherine Kean, 2013, oil on linen, small, The Great Marsh, Cape Cod
Marsh House ©2013 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 6x6 inches

As much as I like the idea of having all things complete and squared away before a break, it seems there is wisdom in coming back to work on something already in progress, especially if it’s something that you know exactly how to proceed with. Then it’s as simple as picking up right where you left off without fuss or hesitation or over-thinking. It’s a way to keep the flow going between starts and stops. I find this helpful on a day to day basis as well as for longer breaks.

Sky, Rocks, Beach, work in progress, Katherine Kean, oil on linen, atmospheric, Hawaii, clouds
Sky, Rocks, Beach work in progress ©2013 Katherine Kean
oil on linen 30x40 inches
 
 Before I leave the studio for the day I know what I’m going to start on the next day, whether it’s new drawings, a fresh under-painting, additional glazes - or sanding down and re-painting.

The paintings above are at a mid point. I can see where they're going, yet they will still have surprises along the way.


Monday, March 04, 2013

Fairing Well: What I Learned, What I Would Do Differently, What I Would Do the Same

All booths are good, all wall space is good – the first piece that sold from our booth was hung in a back side aisle right next to an emergency exit.

 I would bring less work, hang less work; I'm not sure that the works placed higher – above 6 feet - could be seen very well.

 I'd plan a more open booth, use a smaller table, allow more room for people to come in with smaller or no returns on the sides, smaller or no middle wall. Again, the easier it is for people to see the work, the better.

 Norman Zammitt, North Wall, 1976 
Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 168 inches, Installation view


 
Kate Breakey, Las Sombras Series 

 Bright colors sold first. Overall most of the work I saw everywhere was big bold bright. Very few quiet, subtle pieces – they were there, but few, or maybe just difficult to notice.

 Professional art handlers and installers were a godsend, although expensive - but worth it. Would I use this option again, or do it all myself? I don't know....

 Bring only work that can fit in my vehicle – I had one over sized piece and was always aware that it is expensive and time consuming to hire a truck to deliver or one must depend on favors from very busy and often asked busy friends with trucks. That’s partly why I work more these days on triptychs and other modular art. I did manage to fit 23 paintings into my car including, 3 triptychs and a modular piece, one of which is over 10 feet wide installed, of course about half were small to medium sized work.

 Make more use of the provided storage area and of viewing rooms to show work that isn't on the wall. The storage provided was ample and it was pretty easy to grab pieces from storage to show. I can also see possibilities for changing work out every few hours.

 Labeling the cardboard with an image of the work along with pertinent information was really helpful when pulling artwork out of the car and in and out of storage.

 Be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes. Put gel soles in your shoes, bring your own water, bring protein bars. The food available is reminiscent of airports. It's okay, but rarely vegan and was expensive. Luckily there were vegan and vegan friendly restaurants nearby.

 No need for an electrical outlet if your booth is near a perimeter wall.

 Consider bringing your own table and chairs.