Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oil Pastel Painting One-on-One Lesson

Pablo Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

When confronted by a blank sheet, children are not afraid of it the way adults are. They just attack it and in a matter of seconds, it's painted all over with a beautiful work of art that's free and unrestrained.

Children need only familiarize themselves with the medium they are working and then let them be. This is our aim with our 12-year-old art student. At least, before she fully grows up and develop that dreaded fear of the blank sheet, we will try to capture that precious childlike essence that will never happen again in a person's life.

Already gifted with a talent for art, June Anne tries her hand on first oil pastels in a one-on-one lesson with yours truly. After an hour or so, voila, her very own artwork of a prairie house.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Art Nouveau of Balay Negrense in Silay City

Art Nouveau is French for "new art", an international movement that became popular from 1890 to 1905. In Germany, art nouveau is called jugendstil, our "youth style" characterized by flowing curvilinear forms of highly stylized plant and floral motifs.

Art Nouveau is an approach to design, making art a part of everyday life from architecture to furniture.

A European art connoisseur saw this in the floral carvings of the Balay Negrense in Silay City. He reckoned that, as the house was built around the same time art nouveau was in vogue in Europe, the owner Victor F. Gaston, the son of French Yves Leopold Germain Gaston and Prudencia Fernandez of Batangas, may have ordered the ornamentation of his house custom-made in the style of art nouveau.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art Conservation Tips To Make Your Artwork Last Forever

Art conservation is very important if you want to make your artwork last forever. Here are a few art conservation tips I have learned from art conservationist Mr. Ricky Francisco in one of the many seminar/workshops conducted during the 10th VIVA ExCon held in Cebu City in November 2008.

Art conservation tip #1 - PRIME YOUR SUPPORT. Whether it is canvas, wood or board, have at least two coats of gesso or white latex paint, apply the second coat after the first one has dried. As your support and paint are hygroscopic (the ability to absorb moisture in the air, causing the material to expand or contract),
mold growth which damages the artwork is unavoidable in the humid Philippine environment.

Additional art conservation tip for boards or wood supports - coat at least two times the front, sides and back for better protection.

Additional art conservation tip for canvas supports - apply several layers of gesso or white latex on stretched canvas until you have a smooth and stable surface in order to lay a good foundation for your art.

Art conservation tip #2 - USE A RIGID SUPPORT.
According to recent studies, the more stable the support, the better the paintings will keep. This is because of the contraction and expansion of materials due to humidity.

Art conservation tip #3 - STUDY YOUR PAINTS AND MATERIALS. Paints have binders to hold together the paint's pigment. They have certain properties that may discolor or crack in time. For instance, use oil paints "fat over lean", meaning the slower drying oils should be on top of faster drying oils.

Art conservation tip #4 - VARNISH YOUR WORKS.
This acts as a film that protects your painting from the damaging effects of ultraviolet light, dust, dirt, molds, high humidity and pollution.

Art conservation tip #5 - FRAME IT WELL.
It highlights as well as protect your painting. Never use rugby or contact cement to bind your artwork to the board. This is very harmful to your artwork or picture as rugby is very acidic. Notice how poorly framed photographs, certificates or diplomas turn yellow over the years. In just 10 years, the acids from the rugby would have worked its way to the canvas or paper and reveal unsightly mildew stains called foxing. Over time, the brown spots will degrade your painting's support and eat up your artwork.

Additional art conservation tip for glass covered artworks - make sure they are well protected against breakage due to mishandling.

Additional art conservation tip for canvas supports - put a board backing to protect your painting from dust, dirt, and insect invasion.

Art conservation tip #6 - DUST IT CLEAN. Remember Mr. Bean ruining Whistler's Mother in the movie? Simply reserve one cleaning brush that's dry and oil-free to dust your painting, one small square area at a time.

Art conservation tip #7 - DON'T TOUCH IT. Avoid oils, dirt and grease from your hands getting onto your artwork. Use white cotton gloves while handling especially old and delicate paintings. When shipping, wrap your artwork with acid-free glacine or wax paper.

Art conservation tip #8 - CARRY IT ONE AT A TIME. Bunching them up in just one go will cause the friction to rub the artworks against each other, causing irrevocable scratches.

Art conservation tip #9 - AVOID TOO MUCH LIGHT. Ultraviolet and infrared light causes discoloration of your artwork. Keep it in under controlled lighting conditions. Never expose your painting in direct sunlight.

Art conservation tip #10 - KEEP MOISTURE OUT. This will encourage the growth of mold and mildew and will cause irreversible damage to the painting.

As an artist and creator of your work you have the responsibility of prolonging its life for a very long time in order for the succeeding generations to enjoy viewing the actual artwork that has survived the test of time, thanks to a very well prepared job of art conservation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You Can Never Go Wrong in Oil Pastel Painting

You can never go wrong in oil pastel painting. That's one thing I like about it. The other thing is that an oil pastel box is so handy that you can carry them just about anywhere and start painting.

Because an oil pastel works best in toothed surfaces such as oil pastel paper, handmade paper, watercolor paper, sandpaper, and other textured surfaces, practically you can never go wrong in oil pastel painting. Like oil and acrylic painting, you can always paint over your mistakes. So that your support ( oil pastel paper, handmade paper, watercolor paper, sandpaper, etc.) would not go to waste.

Take for this experimental oil pastel piece in ghastly colors. Not only did I not like it, I also didn't want to see it ever again. So I have to paint over it, and support is never wasted.

First, I did my sketch over the unwanted artwork using a stick of oil pastel. For my oil pastel sketches, I would usually pick the longest sticks which means these are the colors I rarely use because they are still more or less intact.

Next, I color in my underpainting, still using the colors I rarely use so that these oil pastel sticks would have to have some use. I also pick colors that are still largely available for my background. I would like all my oil pastel sticks to be used up at about the same level.

Finally, I work on the details, shadows and highlights. Voila! My mother and child (actually a self portrait) oil pastel painting.

I think I have found my calling: doing body portraits as opposed to realistic face portraits.

Not only is there no waste in supports when doing oil pastel painting, the oil pastel sticks can be used up even up to the last bit. Thus, worry not, for you can never go wrong in oil pastel painting.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Planting Rice: A Derivative Work from a Photograph

A derivative work is an artistic or literary work derived from one or more existing works.

For my artworks of human interest scenes of daily Pinoy life, my studies are usually taken from cell phone snapshots, deliberately not as clear as SLR shots so that instead of seeing them from a photographer's eye, I would see my subjects from an artist's impressionist eye.

I usually use my own shots for the sake of copyright and originality. But there are times that I could not be on location, for example, in a farm to make my derivative work of a farm scene.

But when I saw my friend Kristin's farm photographs, the lawyer that she is, I asked her permission for me to use her pictures for my oil pastel painting studies, and she was gracious enough to say yes.

This is her photograph of a farm workers planting rice. I did not intend to copy everything in the picture, being a derivative work, I just wanted to get inspiration from her rice plantation photo.

For the derivative work to be copyrightable, it must contain sufficient elements of originality that makes it a new work in its own right.

As I made my sketch in oil pastel (I don't use pencil on a toothed support such as sandpaper), I decided to rearrange the placement of some farm laborers. I didn't like the awkward position of the farm worker on the front left of the picture. He seemed to be a still greenhorn in the job. So I exchanged the other rice planter behind them to be the one up front. You can do anything in a painting such as changing the color of their shirts to uprooting unsightly trees and moving them elsewhere in the composition or not painting them at all.

I had a hard time deciding what color to use for the farm workers' skin tones, considering my limited palette. Sometimes it turned out too fair for farm workers, then when I used darker colors they don't come out of the painting as they should. And still I had to highlight the bulging muscles where the sunlight reflected on their skin.

This is the finished product of my oil pastel painting derivative work. However, when I took a picture of it, my camera exposure settings conked out, thus creating a misty effect in the background and an overall blurry outcome.

There's no way for me to take another picture of this painting anymore because I have arleady mailed it to Manila for the November 16, 2009 Panghimakas (Struggle) art exhibit at the Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Center of the Ateneo Law School at Rockwell, Makati City.

Compared to other planting rice paintings by other artists, I decided not to use women as rice planters, because I have observed that if there are men around, the farm women actually don't to the backbreaking hard labor of planting rice. The women are typically more visible in harvest scenes.

The men in Philippine rural areas don't even wear traditional attire anymore. Notice that they are wearing ball caps in the painting and one wears a collared shirt. Thanks to the proliferation of ukay-ukay (rummage sale), where imported clothing from the U.S., Japan, etc., intended as relief goods are instead sold at very low prices.

Oil Pastel Painting Limited Palette Edition

Oil pastel painting can be challenging if done using a limited palette. In this particular piece, I used only black, gray, and white to emphasize the dreamy, breezy landscape in muted colors.

My concept is that of a young girl on a hammock. The title, Hayahay, means peaceful or tranquil. I would like to depict a quiet scene in oil pastel.

First, I sketched using gray oil pastel as the midtone.

Second, I colored in black oil pastel to define the darker areas.

Third, I highlighted using white oil pastel to add to the finishing touches.

Voila! My oil pastel painting in limited palette edition.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mural Painting

Mural painting, according to wikipedia, is any piece of artwork painted directly on a wall, ceiling, or other large permanent surface.

These three murals are found at Cafe ala Corte, our office al fresco cafeteria. It used to be a garbage dump turned into a nice garden refreshment. The walls used to bear the weight of office trash and junk.

Now they are supports for a total of seven sections of mural paintings done by Hall of Justice based artists, myself, Bea, Michelle Tupaz, and daughter of court stenographer Rebe Japitana.

Following the nature theme, my first mural is an expressionist rural scene of a farm isla or an "island" in the middle of a sea of green and gold rice plantation typically found in the landscapes of Bago City. To do this painting in only one day (one hour, in fact), I used whatever materials were available such as the 2.5" paint brush and enamel paint, despite the concrete walls.

As there were several sections of the walls that were still vacant, the mural paintings needed to be painted right away, and fast.

Over the weekend, I completed painting two more walls in just one afternoon. My second mural is an expressionist waterfall inspired by Whistler's palette, while my third mural is another expressionist tunnel in warm hues.

My rule of thumb is that, large area = large brushes and large strokes, otherwise instead of liberating yourself into your art, you are imprisoning yourself with small brushes and small strokes in your mural painting.
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