Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cell Art Space Energy awards - ABC Podcast

Cell Art Space Energy Awards (Oct 2010) interview with ABC: Video Podcast.

As a former Committee Member of Cell Art Space, and as a local artist who supports the art community, I wanted to share with you a short snippet interview from the Energy Awards. This exhibition at Cell is a selection of high school student artists who were award recipients at the larger Energy Exhibition awards held just prior to this at the Tanks Art Centre. These selected artists showcase some of the highest talent in the surrounding Cairns Region. Watch out for these budding young artists.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Writing an Exhibition Statement

Well I don't know if that is the correct name for it or not, but an Exhibition statement is much like an Artist Statement in that it is divulging information; rather than about you, but your artwork. You know when you are walking around the gallery looking at the artworks and there is a plaque with the artwork details and a description about the art, whether it is the inspiration for creating the piece or factual such as describing the materials, process, technique or even subject matter. 

Exhibition Statements tend to be displayed on the bottom left or right corner of the art. They are generally typed statements glued onto foam core. Foam core (or also known as Flute board) is a thick soft material with squashy foam stuff between two pieces of card. It is easily cut with a stanly knife on a cutting mat.

Difficulty: Easy/Beginner

  • Cutting Mat
  • Cutting Knife
  • Steal ruler
  • Normal ruler
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Glue Stick
  • Foam core (Flute Board)

Questions to help you write your exhibition statements:
  1. Title artwork, materials, dimensions, year
  2. What inspired the artwork
  3. What materials have you used
  4. What techniques have you used
  5. What is the subject matter or theme
  6. What emotions or feelings does this artwork create
  7. Talk about design elements and principals but not necessarily critiquing the work e.g. colours, mood, composition etc. 
Length: It is has to been about a paragraph. Get to your point in a few sentences.

Exercise: Try writing an exhibition statement for a well known artwork. For example: If Van Gogh was writing an exhibition statement for his 'Sunflowers' paintings would go something like this:

Sunflowers in Vase
Oil paint

"Sunflowers are my favourite flower and I love painting them. They grow in the fields surrounding my cottage and inspired me from looking out my window. I set up a still life to paint these beautiful glowing flowers. I use oil paint on Belgian linen with linseed oil (how appropriate for the subject matter).  My technique is not traditional of my peers, I take my hue straight from the tube using a palette knife. I slice the paint into the hogs hair brush and paint in strokes. It is a slow and repetitive process as I don't premix my colours, I allow the multiple brushstrokes of colour to optically mix. Though I am colour blind, I hope by using brilliant yellows and oranges that the high key tones bring me a sense of joy as it would in real life seeing those colours..."

This paragraph is completely made up and a bit technical and academic for poor old Gogh, but you get the point. It is person as it is your thoughts. 

I hope this helps you to take on some creative license when you write yours.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kids Painting

My nieces and nephew were visiting and of course I suggest we do some paintings. So I set up outside on the patio where a mess a be easily cleaned and the least destruction to the house can happen. 

What you need: A drop sheet, paints, glass jars, cartridge paper, paper towel, ice-cream lids (palettes), brushes.

It was just a fun free play time of playing and experiment. There was no preconceived idea for the kids to create a specific thing (and they didn't ask what to paint either which was good). I just allowed them to create. 

*Reminder: Try to use non-toxic and washable acrylic paint. 
Ages: 2.5, 4, 8, 11. 
Duration: 1 hr
Here are the results:

Butterfly Paintings:
This activity was instructed as I used it as a good excuse to use up some of my old non usable student paints. I just couldn't bring myself to throw them out years ago, and look, they have come in great to use for painting with kids.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kids Drawings

I have had my nieces and nephew visit and of course I encourage creativity and art play. The kids were interested in drawing  (in my studio). It has been interesting to see the different ages and their level of detail and perception of objects in space.

5year old drawing


A rainbow

8year old's drawings

Love the use of ariel perspective mixed with profile perspective. Between looking at the objects from above and side on as well as seeing the rooms from above and side on.



 11year old's drawings

A Beach scene

It is just so magical to see these kids draw without the knowledge of art design principles. To freely express their vision without worry of using multiple viewpoints or compositional rules.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Using a tonal scale to 'see' colour

When you are using reference photos or even just a greyscale sketch, I find it helps to use a tonal scale to check the darkness or lightness of the colour before putting brush to canvas.

A tonal scale is the graduation of greys from white to black or lightest to darkest using 9 values. 

Here is a Greyscale for you to use in your own art practice. The white boxes above the value is so you can cut it out, use as a window and see your colour your matching or checking. Click for larger image.
Free Greyscale Template
Note: This image only is copyright free . All other images retain copyright.  

Here is the Greyscale template printed. The holes were cut first and then laminated.

 Left: Using the greyscale here to check what tonal value the rock shadow is. In real life it looks like it could be at the 8 or 9 value.
Right: Using the greyscale to check what tonal value the rock highlight is. In real life it could be at the mid range point. About a 5. 

  • Use the greyscale on the palette when mixing paint. Remember, a colour's value or intensity can be altered by what other colour is surrounding it. So what seems light a very bright colour on your palette, may actually be more dull then you think what you put it next to a mid tone value colour. That is why a greyscale is great for checking. 
  • Also, use your eyes and quint. Blurring the image helps to see the masses of shape and their tone
  • I find looking at the painting through the digital camera screen really helps to 'see' too. Because you are seeing the painting differently.

Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Hang Paintings

 There are no hard and fast rules, but there is what looks good and what does not.

Hammer/Tack Hammer
Rule/Tape Measure
Eyelets or "D" Rings 
Picture Wire (Thin strings of wire plastic coated)
Wire cutters

Step 1:
A general rule of thumb has been to measure your canvas about 1/3 or 1/4 down from the top and mark for the wire to be placed there.

Fastening is personal preference. Here is how I do it.

Step 2: Pre hammer a nail lightly to puncture a hole if required. Some frames use harder timber then others. Screw in eyelets or "D" rings.

Step 3:  Measure the width of the inner frame from D ring to D ring and add desired excess and slack. Feed wire through loop. I add about 10cm to each side of excess. 

Imagine a triangle made from the wire. The tip or point is where the nail in the wall will hold the painting. Add enough slack to create about a 2cm high triangle or as desired depending on your placement of the D rings.

Step 4: Loop wire through hole again

Step 5: Wind wire towards the centre about 5cm.

Step 6: At the halfway point of  the excess wire (5cm) stop and wind back towards edge of canvas


Standard rule for galleries is to hang painting with a nail or screw or alternative hook (e.g. 3M system) at eye level. Now what is eye level??? Everyone is at different heights. Use your judgement. A rule I have used before is measure is between 150-200cm from the ground up.

Here are a few links which might be of interest to you about preparing hanging art

Presentation hanging of the artworks on the wall

Or if you are someone wanting help to hang your art, here is a website which offers an insight into how much it could cost if you hire someone to provide this service

How to Varnish a Painting

For those who are new to painting and want to know how to varnish a painting, whether it be acrylic or oil, you can use this process.

So what varnish to use?
I am an Acrylic painter so I originally started using a varnish suitable for acrylics. Jo Sonja's and Atelier brand Matte or Gloss Varnish. Acrylic varnishes are water-based polyurethane which creates a plastic like film over your painting which seals it. However I decided to experiment with a few different type of varnishes including Cabots Crystal Clear. You can buy this from the hardware store and is water clean up and made from polyurethane too however I felt this type of varnish was better. I found the Artist's Acrylic varnishes to remain tacky and collect dust, whereas Crystal Clear dried 'dry' with no tackiness. Than I discovered varnish which oil painters use, it is solvent based therefore turps clean up. That is the only downside to using a solvent based varnish, however the result out ways the infrequent inconvenience. The advantage is, no tackiness and therefore easily wipe painting clear with slightly damp cloth. Downside, you must be sure your have completed your painting, as you can easily repaint over an area with acrylic paint as the solvent acts as a resist. With oil paint however I assume it would be ok.

What to choose: Gloss or Matte?
Well really the finish is your choice, there is no right or wrong. Depending on your painting will depend on what would be best. For example, a bold abstract piece might look better as a gloss, or a realist scene may be better as a matte. For me, I like to go in between and go for Satin (Semi-gloss). Just remember, if using a Gloss, be aware that photographing the finished piece after varnishing may reflect light. So photograph before and after.

How to apply varnish.
Applying varnish again is a personal choice. Ways you can include painting in the direction of the format e.g. Portrait or Landscape, or left/right or up/down. Or paint in the direction of the subject e.g. follow the curves of a portrait; down the nose, round the checks, across the forehead etc. Or the way I varnish is using cross-hatching or hatching technique. This ensures I seal every part of the canvas.

Step One: Step up what you need:
  • Varnish.
  • Ceramic container.
  • Newspaper/Drop Sheet.
  • Brush.
  • Gloves
  • Brush Cleaner
  • Wood Blocks or Painter's Triangles. This is rather then placing canvas directly on the newspaper as when the varnish dries, the paper sticks to the varnish and leaves unpleasant bits stuck to the canvas.
Painter's Pyramid is something I accidently found in the hardware store (Bunnings for $12.00). They are great for varnishing or just painting to get to those edges without painting the table.

Step Two: Paint the sides first
(except the very nearest side to you incase you touch when leaning over). This is so if blobs of varnish pools on the edge it gets wiped flat when you do the surface.

Step 3: Paint the surface using method of choice. I use hatching and cross-hatching stroke. Other suggestions: Left to right, top to bottom or directional.

  • Wether it is water based or solvent based, try not to keep painting over the same area as this folds in air and creates little bubbles.
  • When you feel the varnish is tacky or 'grabbing' move on, this indicates you have already painted there.
  • Make sure varnish is dry before storing.
  • Use gloves if using solvent based
  • Clean brush with brush cleaner or soap and water
  • Don't use your best brush but do use a suitable one. A synthetic long flat.
  • Use glass or ceramic containers so you don't have to throw away disposable plastic
  • NEVER pour turps down the sink. Pour excess into a jar for next time (yes you can reuse the turps until it is too dirty) or pour onto newspaper and discard