Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Paint Brush Highlights: Symmetry

Symmetry handle
"Symmetry" comes with many things in mind; this brush is named for the balance and harmony it will bring to your art.  

The handle is constructed to reduce painting fatigue with a large diameter handle at the end to bring counter balance.  The unique shape is in a long handled brush, available in four series for different  mediums.  There are both synthetic and natural hair choices, most of which are suitable for acrylic and oils.  The red sable could even be used for watercolor, and I'm thinking plein air work with that comfy long handle.  

Each series is available in rounds, brights and filberts in three standard sizes.  

Red Sable Symmetry up close
I tried out the Symmetry this week on some light watercolor work.  I was amazed with the sable's softness and body.  My favorite feature, though, was the brush's ability to remove paint so easily and bring back the white of the paper.  I found the blending wet on wet superior to other brushes I have used because of the "springiness".  

Yet another fabulous brush from Dynasty, pick up one at an online dealer when you can.  

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Artist Resources: Painting in Acrylic Paint

Mixing Acrylics on canvas with Golden Stag
Even though I have a love for all things art materials, I do stick primarily to acrylic paint for my own work.  I have worked in many other types of paint, but this is my current and long time favorite.  Perhaps that stems from having first learned how to paint with acrylics when I was a young teen.  Regardless, I am sharing with you a few points on acrylic paint that will give you better insight into the medium.

  • Modern acrylics are a water soluble polymer dispersions made from an acrylic resin, suspended in water and pigment.  They clean up easily with water, but once they dry, they should be considered permanent.
  • Acrylics come in many forms, soft or heavy body, matte or gloss.  Additives can be used to change the working properties, such as transparency or viscosity.  
  • Higher quality acrylics may contain more pigment than lower quality paints.  Lower quality paints have more water and fillers in place of pigment resulting in less potent hues, or lower chroma.  The price of the paint will often lend itself to the type of pigment in the paint.  Pigments are a whole other blog post. ;)
  • Acrylics can adhere to almost any surface, including wood, metal, plastic, fabric, stone or glass.  However, sometimes additives are needed to adhere to less porous or smoother surfaces.  Each manufacturer of acrylics often have their own lines of additives for such purposes.
  • It is advisable to prime a surface with a water based latex or acrylic primer before painting.  If working on an artist surface, like canvas or panel, traditional or acrylic gesso is suitable.  If working on an unusual surface like brick, consider a water based latex primer to help the paint adhere.
  • Acrylics can be thinned with water to a degree.  To get a watercolor effect, thin with water or an acrylic extender.  Consider, however, that once thinned, acrylics lose some of their ability to bind to the substrate.  Thin with water in moderation to prevent peeling or cracking off the surface.
  • Acrylics can be very convenient in that they dry fast and thicker applications are more possible than in other types of paints.
  • Most acrylics remain quite flexible once dry, allowing them sustainably on canvas or fabrics.  
Interlock Bronze
The viscosity of the acrylic paint you've chosen will set the stage for the type of brush you'll need to use.  Softer bodied acrylics, like fluids will warrant softer brushes, like the Black Gold or Faux Sable series.  Heavy bodied paints and gels will do well with natural bristle brushes or stiffer synthetics like the Interlock Bronze series.  

Let me know if you have more questions about acrylics, I'm here to help!

Keep Painting, 

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Gwenn Seemel

Patern Kervinio, 2001, round brushstrokes
"I definitely steal technique ideas from almost every painting I see, but I wouldn't say that I found inspiration for my style in another artist's work.  That came from doing intaglio print-making when I was a teenager.  In that medium, cross-hatching is a primary means for creating a tonal area.  I simply translated my new-found love of cross-hatching into color as I painted.  The more brushes I added to my repertoire, the more interesting the cross-hatching became." ~Gwenn Seemel

Portland, Oregon artist Gwenn Seemel popped out at me from amongst the many artists I see on a regular basis online.  Her work is not only technically amazing, but her choice of color, understanding of design, and interesting application make her art stand out in the world of portraiture.  

Guillaume (Folded Paper), 2005, flat brushes
Gwenn's artwork has been overwhelming guided by her choice of materials, both media and brushes.  She chose acrylic early on for its quick drying time, versatility and "immediate layering of distinct brushstrokes".  However, as her work has evolved and her budget expanded, Gwenn has been able to choose the quality of brushes, paints and surfaces she prefers.  

As far as brushes, she began working in mostly rounds, using flats only for laying in the background.  "I would start a portrait by laying down structural lines and crosshatching with the larger rounds.  Eventually, I would use 00 size round brushes to complete the painting, and their small brushstrokes are obvious.  My brush collection was limited and it's reflected in the rather uniform finish of the paintings I was making at the time," she shares.  

Molly, 2011
"Besides the rounds, in 2003, the only other brush in my toolbox was this large house painting one.  A hardware store find, I was lured in by the affordable price and the rough look that it gave my marks.  In 2004, I discovered the three centimeter wide flat brush, and I began to use it a bit like a house painting brush.  It helped me tame my obsessive crosshatching here and there, and it did so in a more controlled manner than the hardware store brush had done."  Soon after, Gwenn came across other sizes in the flat washes, 4 and 6 centimeter brushes.  She enjoyed the "blockiness" that these brushes gave her work, and as she became accustomed to them, she toned it down.  "The wider array of brushes was making for a broader language of brushstrokes and a lot more dynamism in the finished work," Gwenn explains.

The Buccas, 2009
"This is one of my favorite portraits that I've ever made.  While that probably has a lot to do with the subjects, it is also a matter of seeing all my marks united in one painting.  In that sense, it's a recored of how my tools have raised me up as a painter over the last ten years.  Of course, the portrait of the Buccas is not the last painting that I've made, and my style continues to evolve right along with my tool box."
Gwenn Seemel self portrait process
Every single brushstroke is a significant design choice, and Gween needs the right brush for each move.  Gwenn explains, "If anything, my use of the wide flat brushes is unique.  I'm not usually interested in them for blending or varnishing: I love the shapes they make when I allow them to be themselves."

Gwenn writes frequently on her blog about her own process as an artist and how her personal journey inspire her paintings and books.  Gwenn also vlogs about her work and you can learn more about both her materials and portraits on her YouTube channel.

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.