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Kerstin Peters

It is all about art...

2014 July/Aug. Blog Entries



Buying New Material

Blog

35, August 29, 2014


Two weeks ago, I wrote about cleaning our your studio. If you have organized your working area and sorted through your material, you should have a good idea about what you need to buy for future art projects. With the “back-to-school” flyers flooding the house, you probably will have noticed that the art stores in your area also offer many sales.

However, before you storm out of the door to the next art store, make a list of what you really need. For me going to an art store is like going to a toy or candy store for a kid. Everything looks so interesting. Being a creative person, you might see so many possibilities when looking at all the sales items, not to mention the savings from buying things in big quantities. Who cares about the budget or whether you really need the stuff in the near future?

As tempting as it is to buy as much as your car can carry, there are always other sales. You want to avoid buying materials you already have in duplicates or will never touch if you are honest with yourself. Not because, you do not really want to try them but just because your time is limited as it is. Also think about the fact that you have to store all those extra materials.

That does not mean you should not try new materials. It is always fun to try something new and it gives you new ideas but try one or two new products at a time. For the painting "The Wave" which is shown above at different development stages, I used soft pastels, and glazing medium for the first time when I did the underpainting.

If you are a rather inexperienced buyer, ask your teacher or artists who work in the medium you want to use for suggestions. They will often suggest a limited palette of colours and the basic equipment you need to get started. The more experienced you get the more you can adjust your equipment to your needs.

No matter what medium you choose here are some general tips before to stay in your budget:

Start out with a limited palette of colours. Once you are comfortable and painting more you will probable add some colours that you really like or that are hard to mix with the colours you have.

My personal suggestions are

Lemon yellow

Cadmium yellow, medium or dark

Cadmium red

Alizarin Crimson

Ultramarine Blue

Cobalt Blue

Burnt Umber

Titanium White (for acrylic and oil paint only)

You can buy student or professional quality paint. Professional quality paints contain a full pigment load, suspended in a binder (generally natural gum Arabic for watercolours, acrylic polymer for acrylic and drying oils like linseed, poppy seed, walnut, and safflower oil for oil paint). Student quality paints have a lower concentrations of pigment, less expensive formulas, and are often offered in a smaller range of colours. More expensive pigments are generally replicated by hues. The colour strength is lower, and the hues do not have the same mixing characteristics as regular colours. That means that it takes less professional grade paint to do a painting because the coverage is so much better, and that you need less paint to change a colour when mixing paints.

In general, buy the best quality you can afford. Student quality colours are usually not as lightfast. Therefore, rather buy a limited palette of high quality colours than a whole range of cheap colours.

To save money you can use student quality paints for under-paintings. Especially with reputable brands, the difference is not too visible. However, stay away from very cheap brands as their inexpensive pigments are stretched with extra filler and binder or replaced by dyes. The lightfastness is especially poor because of the use of dyes.

Try different brands, and see if there is a particular brand you prefer to others. I still buy some colours from different manufacturers, especially if I have found a certain colour that I particularly like.

The same goes for brushes. Try a couple of different manufactures and types to see what feels good in your hand. Good brushes are expensive but they will last you a long time if you take good care of them.

If you have any questions about what materials to buy please contact me, and I will gladly make some suggestions for you. If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about my art, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

 

How to Store and Care for Your Art

"Winter Sun, Kinsella Drive" is a painting I had to repair because I was not aware at the beginning of my career that acrylic paintings can stick to other surfaces even after they are dry. In this case it stuck to a plastic bag. Luckily, the damage was minor and easily fixed. I was just glad that I found out about the dangers of bubble wrap leaving marks before it happened to any of my paintings.

Blog 34, August 22, 2014

Last week, I wrote about cleaning our your studio. This week, I would like to give you some information about the storage of your artwork. At a certain point on your painting journey – whether you paint just for yourself or to sell your work – you have more works than you can hang, or sell right away. Even though all artists wish their works would just sell like hotcakes, chances are you will build up quite the inventory.

If you are a collector of artwork, you might be forced to temporarily store your art when you do renovations to your house, move, or have so much art that you have to rotate your collection.

To enjoy your artwork for a long time, all artwork should be stored in a preferably climate controlled environment, out of humid areas which cause the occurrence of mold and mildew, away from dust, insects, and other air pollutants. Therefore, never store artwork near sources of heat like fireplaces, windows, doors, vents or ceiling fans.

Storing you artworks safely actually begins with the organization of your workspace. Create zones for specific functions like creating art, storing supplies, storing artworks, administrative tasks, and packaging. This way you avoid that finished works can be accidentally damaged by a fallen brush loaded with paint or a tipped-over container with water or solvent.

Framed artworks should be stored vertically if possible, preferably in cabinets, separated by acid-free materials.

Unframed artworks should be stored horizontally in shallow drawers and cabinets to avoid weight build-up. Similar sized pieces should be stored together. Artwork containing acidic materials should be stored separately because these pieces could damage your other artworks as the acid can be transferred.

It’s not ideal to stack canvases, but if necessary you can use cardboard barriers that are larger than the artworks to separate them. Make sure you stack them front to front and back to back to avoid any damage from hooks and wires. Only stack pieces that have the same size, and keep the stacks shallow to avoid creating to much weight on the lower lying canvases.

If you are storing works in acrylic, make sure you place a sheet of polyethylene plastic between two surfaces because acrylic paints stay tacky even after drying so that the two paintings could stick together, most likely resulting in the damage of both surfaces. Do not use bubble wrap, plastic wrap or thin plastics for this purpose, because they could leave marks on the painting surface or stick to it.

Although I wish I had storage cabinets, I cannot afford them. Therefore, all of my works are currently stored in plastic bins, separated according to size and depending on whether they are framed or unframed. By storing them in small numbers, I can avoid weight build-up , and make it easier to transport them to shows.

From time to time, I reorganize my bins to make sure that the works I want to show during the next events are stored together.

No matter the medium, keep touching the artwork to a minimum. Especially for works on paper wear white gloves to avoid smudges or finger prints on the surface.

Finally, take photos of your artwork so that you have an inventory of your works. This might be very helpful for insurance purposes in the event of loss or damage. You can include the following additional information: the time the painting was done, the kind of support you painted on, whether or not it is framed, off site for an exhibition, or sold.

Do you have any other tips for storing art, or any questions you would like to be answered, then please contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about my art, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

 

 

Cleaning out Your Studio


"Colours of Muskoka" is a painting that I did while using up some left-over paint. I wish I could show you a photo of my cleaned up studio but I am still in the process of reorganizing.

Blog 33, August 15, 2014

Now that we are in the middle of August, the back to school slogans have already been in our ears for a while. Flyers advertising the best deals for the new school year started seem to come out earlier and earlier every year. For some students the summer break will be over in a week.

At the beginning of September, most art stores will also offer discounts on many of their products. That is a great time to stock up on painting equipment. However, before you buy everything that is on sale, and end up with many things in double, triples or worse, now is a good time to clean up your studio to take stock of what you already have at home.

Go into your box of paints and sort out the ones that have dried out. Then sort the ones that are still good by colour. Have a shopping list ready so you can write down any colours you are low on. Think about which colours you really use on a regular basis and which you only bought on the spurt of the moment.

Sometimes, you see this amazing colour in the store and you just buy it but then never use it in your paintings because it does not fit with your regular palette of paints or does not appear in the subjects you paint. Sometimes it just does not look as good on your canvas as it looked when you saw it in the store. This can also happen with a certain gel or paste you bought.

If you still like the colour or medium, could you use it for a painting or project that you could do to experiment with a different technique or style? Maybe, it would be great to prepare your canvas either by tinting or with texture. Often, we are so focused on finishing paintings that we forget to play with new materials to loosen up.

If you decide that the material is nothing that excites you and that you will use, you have several options:

1) Throw Away

Do you think you will still use them for trying new techniques or incorporating them into your art? Can someone else still make use of them? If not, it’s probably time to throw them away. However, be aware that toxic materials have to go to a hazardous waste depot and should not be put into your regular garbage. To find out where you can bring them, you can call your local city services or go to their website.

2) Donate:

Donating your unused or gently used art supplies is a wonderful way to help out other artists, or to support the art programmes of schools, or community centres.

3 ) Sell:

As good art supplies are expensive, it might be worth trying to sell any gently used unwanted items by listing them for free on websites like Kijiji, Craigslist, or your local free online marketplace website.

Once you have cleaned up your paints, look at your supports. Is your studio cluttered with partly finished works? Do they still excite you?

If so, take some time to finish them. That's something I did a lot this year. And I have to tell you, it is quite energizing because usually you will be able to finish them in a short amount of time. Therefore, you will be able to experience many moments of success in quick succession which feels really great.

Once you have sorted through your materials, and gotten rid of what you no longer need, it is good to reorganize. Sort your materials by mediums. This is especially important if you paint with different kinds of paint that cannot be used together without the risk of ruining your the painting. This way, you will be able to find everything easily, and do not buy multiples, or need and slow down your creative process when you have to go on the hunt for a missing paint tube or brush.

Cleaning out your studio often leads to finding items you forgot you had. Maybe, this will even increase your creativity. All these possibilities... Now you will be able to put them into action right away because you have an inviting work area to do so. Have fun creating new works of art!

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about my art, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

 

 

Time to Play

Blog 32, August 8, 2014


I hope you are enjoying your summer. Summer is a great time to try out new activities, or to pick up some again that you used to do ages ago. In this blog, I will tell you about print making with acrylic paints.

On the second Saturday of May, I was fortunate to participate in the Golden Abstract Printmaking workshop organized by the Orleans based art organization Arteast. Andrea Warren, the Golden Paints representative, showed us lots of easy creative ways to create prints with Golden Acrylic paints.

We created Monotypes which are made by applying paint or ink to a non-porous surface and then using pressure to transfer an image to a piece of absorbent paper. They are one-of-a-kind prints.

The first option is to cover a sheet of aluminium foil with black gesso. You could also use other coloured gesso or Open Acrylic paints for white surfaces or white gesso if you are planning on printing on a coloured surface. If you are using regular acrylic paints you will probably need a retarder or an acrylic glazing medium to increase the working times.

After we rolled the gesso onto the aluminium foil, we waited a couple of minutes, then put the foil over the paper. With a brush we made the design. It is important not to press too hard on the foil as you want only your design to be transferred onto the paper. Once you lift the foil of your paper, you can use fluid acrylic paints to colour your print. The fluid acrylics will give you a watercolour effect but are water-resistant after drying. It is important that you work from light to dark – the same way you would work with watercolour paints.

For the second option, we used a piece of Plexiglas. We quickly applied an easy painting done with Open Acrylic paints to the Plexiglas. Once the painting was done, we carefully put a piece of watercolour or rice paper onto the Plexiglas. To avoid smudging of the image, you have to keep the paper in place, and avoid putting on the paint too thickly.

Once the paper is on the Plexiglas, carefully rub the back of your paper with your hand in a circular motion to allow for the image transfer. You can also use a brayer (small roller) to press the paper down evenly. Gently roll it across the paper, first lightly and then with increasing pressure.

If you are using rice paper or another type of thin paper, put down another piece of cloth, paper or aluminium foil onto your paper to avoid that the paint stains your hands or the brayer.


Once you are finished with the transfer, carefully lift the paper by securing a corner with one hand and pulling it up from the opposite corner. As your print will still be wet, do not touch the paper while placing the print to a location where it can dry before further handling. Once the print is dry you can still add paint to the image.

If you are ready to display your print, it should be framed and behind glass like a watercolour painting. In case you decide to glue the print to a canvas to display it without a frame, it should be sealed with a Soft Gel Gloss, thinned 2:1 with water, and then varnished for protection. Sealing the surface lowers the absorbency of the surface, and allows for a more uniform varnish application. It also serves to protect the acrylic paint in case of a varnish removal.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about my art, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

 

 

At The Market

Blog 31, August 1, 2014


It is August already. I hope you have had a great summer so far. Summer is a great season to eat outside, whether it is in your own garden, at a camp site, or a picnic at a local park or beach. What would be better than getting your food fresh from a local farmers' market?

I enjoy going to the little market we have in our little town. Seeing all the fresh vegetables lined up in the booths is a feast for the eyes and nose. And if you are lucky, and get offered a taste sample also for the mouth.

Although I like to watch the busy activities on the market, I find the subject very challenging. Nevertheless, I have done two paintings of market scenes. In the first one, a 16” x 20” acrylic painitng on a canvas board, I included my young son and myself in the painting.

The latest one was done for the West-Carleton Art Sale at the Carp Fair Grounds in 2012. The 16” x 20” acrylic painting is on a gallery canvas. It was challenging because of the perspective of the many small objects as well as the people in painting. If people are part of my paintings, I prefere to leave them rather without characteristics so they present more a mannequin rather than a specific person. This comes from my thinking that I would not like to have a painting of a stranger in my house. This rule certainly does not apply for commissions of portraits where I try to achieve a likeness to the person as close as possible.

Both paintings were done by combining a couple of photographs to achieve the composition I had in mind. Although, the markets would be a great subject for a plein air painting, I still have to face that challenge. I have to admit that the busyness of people walking through the market, has prevented me from setting up my gear on location. Maybe, I will take my sketchbook first before I attempt painting the busy scene.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about my art, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.


You can find the blog posts from previous months in the 2014 archives.



Watercolour on Vacation

Blog 30, July 25, 2014

Last week, I wrote about the ease of taking your sketch pad and some pencils along to practice drawing. This week, I will tell you why it is great to add a box of watercolours or watercolour pencils, especially when you love colour in your sketches.

Compared to other paint mediums, watercolour is the most portable. It dries fast, and you can easily cover large areas very quickly. You do not even need special watercolour pads. Most sketchpads will be able to handle a quick layer of watercolour as long as you do not soak your pad.

By using watercolours, you can add colour to your sketch which will be very useful when the colour is what intrigued you to sketch the scenery in the first place. You can really capture the mood of the situation. I am just thinking of the beautiful sunsets or sunrises, the amazing greens and blues of the water, the colours of the clouds and sky just before a storm. Just take into consideration that the paint dries about three times lighter than the paint you put on the paper.

When you are working on site, keep in mind that the scenery in front of you changes quickly. You are basically capturing a visual note of what you see. It is easy to get overwhelmed by trying to include as much detail possible. Therefore, ask yourself why you want to draw a scene, then focus on that. Otherwise you get caught up wasting time on details that are not relevant for your sketch. Keep it simple!

It is not important if anyone but you can relate to your sketch. It is just for you, not to impress others. It is more important to get the feel for the situation than the realistic technical drawing. The more you practice the better your observational skills will get, the more you will appreciate the amazing world around you. You will suddenly see things that you never paid attention to. Over time, your sketchpad will become a journal reflecting what is important to you, and the way you see the world.

This does not mean that you cannot create really elaborate watercolour pieces en plein air. However, as it is the summer and vacation time, I just wanted to concentrate my focus on sketching.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about what I do as an artist, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.


Time to practice drawing

July 18, 2014


Summer is a great time to practice drawing. You do not need a lot of equipment and you can do it anywhere.

I can already hear some of you say that you are not even able to draw a straight line. The good news is that most natural shapes do not have completely straight lines. The trunk of a tree might look straight from afar but if you come closer you can see that it is quite irregular.

Another common problem is that you always compare yourself to others, often to people who have practised for a long time to get to where they are now. Moreover, drawing is like writing: everyone has their own vision and way to express himself. If 10 people draw a subject like a tree, you will get 10 different drawings of the tree. There is no right or wrong way. That is one reason why I don't do step by step demonstrations. I give some tips but I encourage everyone of my students to find their own way of creating their impression of reality.

The first step is to really look around you. Observe the things in your life. Look for simple shapes (circles, ovals, rectangles, squares, and triangles) and then practice drawing what you see based on these shapes.

Real progress starts when you commit to regular practice without being critical of all you draw. Remember, it takes courage to draw, especially if you are new at it. Like everything new feels uncomfortable. Do not be obsessed with the final result but enjoy the process, surprise yourself. Experiment with different materials, look at what you learn about yourself in the process.


Like any new skill, drawing takes time and persistence to succeed. However, if you practice on a regular basis by starting with some warm up exercises of simple lines and shapes, you will see improvement. Study works of other artists, use photographs as reference material but also work from life. If you are working from a photograph or another painting, you are already working from an illusion of a three-dimensional subject on a two-dimensional surface. Therefore, you already cut one step out of your drawing process. Challenge yourself and work from nature! It is important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to get better.

Even if you will not end up being the next master, you will heighten your sense of viewing the world, and appreciate the beauty of even the small things. You will suddenly make many new observations because you start to see things you never paid enough attention to.

Your creative side might tend towards doodles or cartoons instead of realistic interpretations of the world you see. There is nothing wrong with it. It is just part of who you are. Drawing is not about the results you achieve but about the process of observing and expressing yourself while enjoying the process of creating. Pick up a piece of paper, a pencil and get started!

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about what's going on in my business, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.


The Family Project: Collages

July 11, 2014

Last week, I wrote how I was able to increase my painting time over the years because my kids gained more and more independence. However, you can always include your children in art projects – not necessarily the way you are used to work but, creating lots of fun and family memories.

Going to the beach or hiking in the woods, even by going through your kid's closet, you can find lots of mementos. Often, they just end up in a corner or in a drawer but there are better ways to capture your holiday memories. A very nice and creative way to showcase these mementos is by including them in a collage. It is fun and you do not need a lot of materials to get started.

You can get everything you need at an art store or even a big box store with an art area like Walmart.

Here is what you need:

  • a big canvas board

  • some student acrylic paints or poster paints

  • acid free glue or acrylic gel medium

  • a couple of plastic knives to spread on the gel medium or glue

  • some brushes (from the dollar store)

  • permanent markers in metallic colours for some sparkle.

Pick a theme or just glue things on as you go. Almost everything can be glued on, as long as it is dry, clean, and not too heavy. For extra materials you can also look at your local dollar store. Apart from glueing materials on you can also create texture by pressing bubble wrap or netting onto your gel or paint.

Follow your children's direction because they enjoy the process of creating and are not too concerned about the end result. This way you are open to experiments and new ideas. It will be a playful activity.

Here are some inspirations from some students:

You can find many more ideas on the Internet if you search for photos of collages and mixed media pieces.

If you create your own mixed media piece this summer, I would love to see it. Please sent me a photo by email tokpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca or post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/KerstinPetersPaintings. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about what's going on in my business, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please share it. Thank you in advance for helping me to reach a bigger audience.

 

 

Pretty in Pink – Summertime painting


July 4, 2014

In July and August, life has a slower pace than during the rest of the year. I enjoy the warm weather and try to spend as much time as possible outside. I even set up a working space in an outside gazebo.

July and August are also the months when my kids are at home which in past years meant that I did not paint at all. However, the older they got the more independent they got. Finally, in the summer of 2011, I decided that they were ready to grant me some time for painting. Realistically, I knew I did only have short periods for myself, so I picked up some 6”x6” canvases and started painting. The first painting was of a pink tulip I had seen at the Tulip Festival that spring.. I was fascinated by the brilliant colour of the single tulip. I wanted to put it in the spotlight – like a portrait. Because I had so much fun doing the first painting, the next year I looked around in our yard and inside of our house for inspirations. I painted Burst of Orange, another tulip painting, in a one person gazebo right in front of the flower bed. Another couple of small flower paintings followed.

Last year, I did not find time to paint any flowers during the summer. I got inspired by my daughter and her friend who were choreographing dances at the cottage. I painted the two of them from a photograph I took at a rehearsal when they were eagerly waiting for their next performance. I also worked on a commission of a Dachshund portrait while the rest of my family was on a week-long camping trip. Camping is just not for me. I have to admit, I enjoyed the time alone with my four-legged companions very much.

This summer, I finally have two teenagers at home which probably means that I will not see too much of any of them. I expect to be able to paint for longer periods. Hopefully, I will be able to finish the double portrait of our Golden Retriever Candy and her Australian Shepherd brother Alex. My daughter has been asking for a portrait of our cat Miko - and she has a point. It is about time that I put his portrait on canvas. He is the only four-legged family member who is not captured in a painting, except for our two turtles. Well, I guess this calls for another portrait.

I would also like to finish some of my other recently started paintings. No pressure though – it is summer, and there is so much else to do: relaxing, reading, spending time with family and friends, and gardening. It is important to recharge the batteries.

If you ever wanted to try painting or drawing, summer is a good time to try something new – just for fun. Enjoy the process and do not focus on the result. See if you can register for local workshops or just get creative at home. If your kids show an interest in arts, the summer is a good time to have them try their hand at artistic activities by sending them to an arts camp or to workshops like the ones I offer at Wallack's Orleans (some for adults and some for kids). If you would like more information, just click here. You can also always contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca .

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to get more information about what's going on in my business, I encourage you to sign up to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. The newsletter is published on the last Wednesday of every month. When subscribing, you will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you know someone who might also like to read my blog, please forward it. Thank you in advance for helping me to spread the word.


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