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Kerstin Peters

It is all about art...

2014 May/June Blog Entries



Preparing For An Art Show

June 27, 2014

During the month of June, I talked about the purchase of original art, where to buy it, and why you should invest in it. This week, I will give you a look behind the curtain again, sharing with you how I prepare for an art show.

When you are going to an art show you see the final product of what took months to prepare. Preparing for an art show, starts month earlier with the decision of which art shows to apply.

Usually, at the beginning of every year the calls for artists start coming in for the shows of the current year, especially for the bigger shows. Smaller shows that do not need as much preparation will often just make a call for artist a couple of months ahead. If an artist is part of an art organization, noteworthy shows will often be listed in their newsletters or email notifications. Still there is a lot of information to go through to find the shows that are of interest.

So the first step is to decide which shows seem to be a good fit. In general, I prefer to visit the show the year before to see what the setting was like, what kind of art was offered, and how busy the show was. Talking to other artists about their experiences certainly helps, too. However, sometimes a space opens and I have just jumped at the chance.

For me as a mom of two teenagers with a busy teaching schedule, I am limited in the number of art shows I can go to. So far, I have never done more than four a year. Many of the art shows run for a whole weekend which conflicts with my teaching schedule.

The other crucial factor is related to the set up of the show. Often artists have to provide their own grids. If this is the case, I need the help of my husband and son to load them into the car as the grids are heavy and fit very tightly into our car. At the venue, I need another hand to help me unload. Depending on the location and the time for the set up, another artist can help out. However, if the timing is tight, I need one of my family members to pitch in. The same goes for the take-down.

Once I have decided to register, agreements have to be filled out, accompanied by some representative photos of my art for jurying. For some shows, the jurying happens only once, for others you have to be juried in for every new show.

For every art show, the artists have to do some volunteer work to make the show a success. There are many tasks to cover, for example publicity, signage, newspaper submissions, and welcome activities. Sometimes, sponsors have to be found to make the show more affordable for the artists.

When finally the date of the show gets closer, I have to plan your layout. Which artworks do I want to show? Are they ready to hang or do they still need to be framed and wired? Do any of them need touch-ups because of damage from previous hangings? How can I pack them most efficiently so they do not get damaged in transport? If all my supports (canvases, boards) were of the same size and material, it would be relatively easy to pack. However, my works vary in sizes and supports, some are framed, some unframed. This provides a challenge as different sizes and especially framed and unframed works should not be packed together. During the transport the frames could leave marks on another painting, or. two paintings placed front to front, might stick to each other if I do not put a sheet of wax paper in between them (especially for acrylic paintings). Paintings should not be put front to back because the wire from the upper painting might scratch the surface of the underlying painting.

Then I have to make sure that curtains and chains are packed if required, that I have all the hooks, lights, extension cords, business cards and price tags, receipt book, change, any invitation or marketing materials I need. As I sell art cards, I have to pack them, too. This means I also need a table to display them, the business cards, and other marketing material. Often I can borrow a table at the venue but sometimes it is necessary to bring my own (including tablecloth).

I already have my hardware packed in a box ready to go. The choice of artworks, however, takes the longest because not only do I want to showcase my latest pieces but I also want to make sure that my works look nicely together. It usually takes me a day to get everything organized. Especially, because something always does not go according to plan. Last time, for example, I had a framing disaster: I had purchased new hanging hardware and the screws were longer and went through the frame, puncturing the front. At least the painting itself was not damaged but it was still quite a disappointment that I could not take the painting to the show but had to look for a replacement instead.

The really stressful task is, however, the actual setup, especially if it happens right before the opening of the show. I definitely prefer to be able to set up the evening before. This way, you can take your time and can still get anything you left at home by mistake. As every hanging is slightly different depending on the space that is allocated, the number of artworks I can hang might be different. Therefore, I have to change things up every time.

Usually, I try to fill the display with the painting as well as possible so that some signature pieces are the focal point around which I group the other paintings. Once everything is up, I start switching pieces to improve the flow. Then it is time to wait for the reactions from the visitors. If I see big smiles, I am happy I did a good job, and enjoy the interactions with the visitors.

Next time when you go to a show, please give some positive feedback to the artists if you like what you see. We do not expect everyone to buy an artwork from us but we really appreciate the feedback. If you would like to leave a comment to this blog, please contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca .

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to look deeper into my painting world, you 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.

 

Places to Buy Original Art

June 20, 2014

Last week, I listed some reasons why you should invest in original art. This week, I will look at places where you can buy original art.

For the traditional buyer who wants to see the artwork in person - rather than just on his computer screen- art shows, local exhibition, galleries, and artist's open houses are the best venues to purchase art.

The biggest advantage of seeing the artwork in person is the chance to get a good look at the artwork's texture, the colours, the size, whether and how it is framed. Even if you look at high quality print reproductions of a painting there is often a colour difference from the original, and the work is usually photographed without the frame. These colour differences could be even stronger, if you are looking at art online because the brightness, contrast and hue settings on your screen will influence the appearance of the painting.

If you are going to an art show or artist's open house, you will also have a chance to get to know the artist. It is always interesting to get to know the person behind the art: to learn how he started his art career, what he is passionate about, as well as the story behind each of his art pieces.

For a more impersonal approach, you could go to a local gallery. In many cities there are city-owned galleries where you can find works from emerging to established artists. These galleries are often non-monitored and you can take your time to take in the works. If you are interested in an artwork, you have to contact a coordinator to arrange for the sales transaction. In general, these coordinators cannot give you detailed information about the artist or the work except for the biography and artist statement usually available on site. Most of the time the artwork has to stay in the gallery until the end of the exhibition.

Going to a commercial gallery, you will usually find artworks from more renowned artists. You can also make use of the recommendations and expertise of the staff. However, do not let yourself be talked into buying a piece. You do not have to be an art expert to know what you like. Buy the artworks you love.

Galleries charge a fee for their services: They often take up to 50% from the sales price as commission for presenting an artist. Often this amount comes right out of the pocket of the artist, sometimes there is an markup. You definitely have to pay the HST which you generally do not have to pay if you are buying directly from an artist, unless his worldwide taxable sales over four or less consecutive quarters exceed $ 30,000, or he has opted to register for HST.

To find artists in your area, you can visit local galleries and google the artists' names, check the websites of local art organizations as well as the ArtistsInCanada.com website which is a national directory of Internet links to hundreds of artists residing in Canada.

Another option is to buy art online. As I would never consider buying an original artwork online except if I had already seen the piece in person or at least some other works by a certain artist, I have no experience in this field. However, I realize that it is definitely a venue I will look into over the next couple of months because more and more people consider buying art online. They enjoy browsing and purchasing from the comfort of their home. There is no running around to different venues, you can access art all over the world 24 hours a day without having to worry about store hours, traffic, parking or weather conditions.

Some of the sites that do offer original art are:

www.etsy.com

www.ugallery.com

www.zatista.com

www.ebay.com

www.saatchiart.com

www.artspace.com

There are even more sites that offer prints or greeting cards of paintings. You can get reproductions of some of my paintings as greeting cards atwww.GreetingCardUniverse.com and prints at www.fineartamerica.com and www.artistrising.com.

Some other sites are:

www.zazzle.ca

www.zazzle.com

www.art.com

www.imagekind.com

www.redbubble.com

Before you buy online, check the seller's references. Look whether you can find out that the seller is a legitimate and reputable business person. Some sites show a feedback rating. If the rating is high, you can expect a smooth transaction. If you cannot find a feedback rating, find out as much information about the seller as possible. Is it an established gallery or artist with a professional website? Are you able to verify phone number, and address? If you are dealing with an artist, is he a member of any art organizations? Can the Better Business Bureau give you any information?

No matter whether you are buying from an artist, gallery, or online, pay close attention to what you are buying. Make sure you know whether the work is an original or a reproduction. Some reproductions, like giclées on canvas for example, look like originals.

If you are purchasing a photograph or a print, find out whether it is a limited edition. Enquire also whether archival materials were used. If you are buying a sculpture, ask whether it is a unique piece or a limited edition because depending on the material and the techniques used to create the piece, it might by easily reproducible.

If you are buying an original piece of art, ask for a certificate of authenticity, guaranteeing the artwork is an original work by the artist named. If you are buying directly from the artist this is not an issue but when you are buying from a third person, you should ask for documentation attesting that the work is authentic.

As I already mentioned, viewing an artwork in person can never be replaced by an online view of the artwork. Make sure that you will be able to return the piece if it is not to your satisfaction. Generally, you can expect that you have to pay the shipping for the return but should be able to receive a full refund of the purchase price.

Have you ever bought art online, either a print or an original? What were your experiences? I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca for your feedback.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to look deeper into my painting world, you 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.

 

 

Reasons to Buy Original Art

June 13, 2014

Last week, I gave you some information with regard to choosing art for your house. This week, I like to give you some reasons why you should invest in original art. As I mentioned last week the most important part of your decision is your reaction to a piece of artwork. If you buy art for the enjoyment and not as an investment, your decision should not be based on whether the artist is well-known or emerging or whether the artwork follows a fashionable style.

You have to relate to the artwork and enjoy it so much that you will continue to find delight in it for many years. Original art gives you a change to have something truly unique in your possession that sets your home apart from others. Especially in the new housing developments where every house looks the same from the outside, you get a change to design the inside very distinctly to your taste.

If you care for your art properly, you can even pass it on to the next generation - unlike many expensive mass-produced goods which break down after a couple of years or get outdated. When you think about this, you will probably wonder why so many people are still reluctant to spend money on art.

Buying art is exciting but also intimidating. However, you do not need to understand art or be able to analyze it, just trust how it makes you feel, how you can relate to it.

People often assume that original art is out of their budget but after visiting a couple of art shows, you will see that there is such a large variety of artists and their artworks out there that everyone can find something for their taste and budget. You might not be able to buy the big landscape painting of your favourite artist but maybe a smaller sketch is in your budget and will delight you as much. Sometimes the small sketch is even more vibrant than the big studio painting because it was done right at the spot. Other times, it might be worth saving some money to buy the painting you fell in love with. Some artists even offer layaway options.

If you purchase original art, you support a local business person, not a big cooperation and its big overhead. You are supporting an artist who spent many years dedicated to his art, studying and improving his techniques. For the artist trying to sell his works, it is not just a nice hobby. Like every entrepreneur, an artist has to take care of all the business tasks, whether it is bookkeeping, marketing, networking, or selling. It is work like any other job.

Art is part of our culture. It helps us to understand our own culture and history and builds a bridge to understand and value other cultures. It is important in the education of our children and also in our adult lives to increase creativity, as a means of expression, and to create relaxation and happiness. Art is for everyone and not just for an elite group. It is a one-time investment that brings you enjoyment for the rest of your life.

Have you ever bought an original piece of art? What was the reason to buy it? I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca to let me know your opinion and experiences.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to look deeper into my painting world, you 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.

 

 

What to Consider Before Buying Art

June 6, 2014

After the quiet winter months, spring is the time when the first art shows start again. This is a good time to add some new art to your house. Picking out art is very exciting because there are so many options. Art is a means to decorate your house in a very personal way. However, the first purchase might be intimidating. You might think that you do not know enough about art, and that original art is too expensive for your budget but I can assure you that there is something for every taste and budget at local art shows.

There are many factors that can play a role when picking artwork but the most important is that you love a piece. That it is calling out for you. All the other considerations are second to this one.

If you fall in love with a painting and buy it without thinking at all about whether it fits over the sofa or matches the colour of your walls, try hanging it in different locations in your house. Often a great place will just present itself. As most people pick neutral colours for the walls of their house, it should not be too difficult to find a space. Sometimes, you might take the opportunity to rearrange some furniture to find the perfect spot.

Other times, you might look for a piece of art for a certain location in your house. In this case colour choices, style, and subject matter play a role as well as size restrictions. Depending on the room in which the artwork will be displayed, the feeling and composition of the piece should be considered. While you might want something calming or even seductive for your bedroom, you might want to look for something brighter for your living room or entrance. Artworks depicting lots of movements, either because of the subject matter or through forms and lines, increase the energy in a room, while landscapes, still lives, and portraits generally create a calming atmosphere.

If you are looking for a certain wall, measure the area but consider that the piece should not be too large or it will be overwhelming and the room feels crowded.. On the other hand, if the piece is too small, it might be overlooked or feel out of proportion. A solution would be to group a collection of similar pieces together. The similarity can be the medium, the genre, the artist, the subject, or even the colour. This helps to create a group of artworks with relating pieces.

A piece with big brushstrokes and bright colours needs more space then something that is more subdued.

Picking a different frame can change the size of a painting to a certain amount. A change of frames might also be necessary to adjust them to your decorating style, and to achieve a collection that looks more harmonious.

If you have a more traditional decorating style portraits, landscapes, and photographs will usually look better in your rooms, while abstract art fits better in a modern environment. Art can also enhance any particular theme you have chosen to decorate a room.

To get some colour and interest into rather neutral coloured rooms, you can pick some bright artworks as accents. This way your home looks less sterile and more inviting.

If you really want to harmonize a painting with the colour of your room, pick a painting that has some of the boldest colours of your room in it. To enhance a colour scheme, you can also repeat colours in your room. If you have a painting with a dominant colour, using the same colour in some other accessories or furniture will create a feeling of continuity. You could also use a complementary colour scheme. In this case your room has a dominant colour, and you select a painting that contains the complementary colour (red-green, yellow-purple, blue-orange) to bring out both colours even more.

A room that is too busy with big patterned wallpaper and curtains, lots of furniture, and knickknacks will overwhelm any kind of artwork, and diminish its beauty and appeal.

The right lighting also makes a big difference in presenting the full potential of your art. However, avoid direct sunlight as it is not good for the artwork, especially works in watercolour, pencil and pastel will fade. The artwork looks best when the centre is at eye-level.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me atkpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca. You can also sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

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






Painting in a Group: How to find “plein air” painting buddies

May 30, 2014

Now that I told you so much about the fun side of “plein air” painting, you might be interested in trying it yourself. The easiest place to start is right in your backyard or maybe a friend's or family member's garden. However, if you would like to find a group to join for painting, you have a couple of option.

If you are looking for some instruction to painting outdoors, you could check the local art schools which often offer art classes or workshops for “plein air” painting. You will meet like-minded students who might be interested in continuing painting together, and receive some painting insides and other beneficial information from the instructor, e.g. with regard to local “plein air” painting groups, and picturesque locations.

You could also browse the Internet for “plein air” artists or organizations in your area. When I did this before I started writing this blog, I found for example the Ontario Plein Air Society at http://ontariopleinairsociety.ning.com. There are also Meetup Groups around the world. You might not find one that is in your area though.

Another good way to meet “plein air” artists is to go to events from different art organizations and exhibition opening where you have a chance to talk to artists about their works. This is actually how I got involved with my current group of painting buddies. I met an artist at an exhibition who loved painting animals and had noticed my dog painting in the show. We started talking and found out that she lived just on the street parallel to mine. We talked about our art as well as our dogs, and I was flattered when she asked me whether I would like to join her and some friends to paint the waterfall she had on her property. The thought of painting outdoors had never occurred to me before but being a stay-at-home mom who was just starting to get out into the art world, I felt excited about meeting other artists.

I am sure I was nervous when I went to her place but everyone was so welcoming. Over the years, they were not only there when I needed painting advice but also became good friends. Through them, I met other plein air artists, and by chance was introduced to one of the organizer of the “Plein Air Ensemble”, a group of Ottawa-Gatineau artists who go on 5 day painting trips every spring and fall to paint the Quebec landscape. I have tried to make it to as many painting trips as possible since I joined, and now, I am one of the organizers.

Becoming part of the KAM 7 group also happened by chance because two participants of the first trip decided not to return. When my friend Janis and I were offered the spots, we thought about our family responsibilities and how we could make it work. Spending a week of uninterrupted painting time was just too tempting. Somehow, our families have accepted that we need to take time to spend with fellow artists. This fall will already be our fifth trip to Kamouraska.

Whether you want to find a group that only goes for day trips in your neighbourhood, or travels to different locations in your province, country or even abroad, depends on where you are in life. Family responsibilities, vacation time and financial or health considerations might limit your involvement but I am sure that you will continue to increase you circle of painting buddies one step at a time once you make the initial connection.

If you are interested in receiving more information about “plein air” painting or learn more about the “Plein Air Ensemble”, please do not hesitate to contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca. You can also sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

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

 

 

A Day Painting “en plein air”


May 23, 2014


This week, I will give you a look “behind the curtains” by telling you about a painting day outside.

Most of my one-day paint-outs are in the Ottawa area. I often drive together with my friend Janis because we are the only ones in the group who still have kids at school. We pack our equipment and lunch, get on the road early, and paint until the early afternoon. If the forecast calls for a rainy day, we reschedule. Sometimes a sick kid or school event might also change our plans.

The story is a little different when we are on a painting trip. There, we have a couple of days where we can solely concentrate on painting. We want to make the most of our time, and try to get outside if at all possible. Both of us don't like to paint from the car as some of our friends do. I just would be too nervous to spill something. Therefore, there are only two options: either we go outside or we paint in the studio. Most of the time we try to go out, hoping to find a sheltered spot.

The day I will describe is Thursday, September 12, 2013. The day before we had non-stop rain and fog, and had painted in the sunroom. I had finished some paintings from previous years and was quite happy with that. However, we were yearning to paint outside. If you travel all this way, you don't want to paint from reference material. You could have done that at home.

When we woke up the fog was as thick as on the previous day. Usually, we are out of the house before 9am to make good use of the whole day. That morning, we took our time having breakfast and chatting about everyone's plans. Usually, we don't go out with groups of more then three or four people. It is just easier to find spots for a smaller number of painters. As Janis and I did not want to stay in the house for another day, we drove to St.-Denis-sur-Mer. However, we could not see much in the eerie white landscape. It was basically like driving into a white opaque mass. We could hardly see the street on which we were driving. It was a little creepy.

At the end, we went to the park at the shore of the St. Lawrence River and painted a wild rose right up close. There was just nothing else you could see. At first, it didn't seem too bad. We were happy to have found a subject to paint. However, the longer we stayed the more the humidity made us cold to the bone.

We drove further to Rivière-Ouelle but by the time we reached the town it had also started to rain. We drove back to the house, and enjoyed our lunch with a nice hot cup of tea. Once it stopped raining, I dressed in my complete winter gear and spent the afternoon in the yard painting the entrance to the house with all the knotty bush covering most of the view. As I could go into the house to warm up regularly it was a good compromise. I was quite content when I brought in my second painting done despite all the obstacles Mother Nature had in stock.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a “plein air” painter? Even if you just go outside in nice weather, it will sharpen your senses and help you evolve your painting techniques. I hope you will give it a try. If you would like more information about any painting issues please please do not hesitate to contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca. You can also sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

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

Do you think you have what it takes to be a “plein air” painter? Even if you just go outside in nice weather, it will sharpen your senses and help you evolve your painting techniques. I hope you will give it a try. If you would like more information about any painting issues please please do not hesitate to contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca. You can also sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

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

 

 

Tips for Painting “en plein air”

May 16, 2014

In the last two weeks, I talked about the pleasures and obstacles of “plein air” painting. This week I would like to give you some tips before you head out into the outdoors.

The painting I showed you in last week's blog, St. Pascal Fields, was my first oil painting in almost 20 years. It was a beautiful crisp but sunny day when we set out on our snowshoes to paint the fields near the house of one of my painting buddies.

Even though I had painted outside before, I was not well prepared that day: I wore my good winter coat. You can probably guess what happened: A wind gust came and blew my canvas off my easel right onto my coat. Had I painted with acrylic paint that morning, this coat would have been ruined. Fortunately for me, oil colours need a long time to dry. Therefore, I was able to finish our painting day as planned before I put my coat into the washing machine. All the paint stains washed off. I am not sure if I would have been as successful with a light coloured coat and I don't intend trying it out but on my dark green coat no marks were left.

When you are packing your equipment for an outdoor painting session, you might get nervous about forgetting important equipment which could ruin the whole experience. Therefore, it is good to have a checklist at hand – especially on the first couple of occasions. Following are some tips what to consider and to bring when painting “en plein air”.

Checklist of Painting Materials for Plein Air Painting:
• A limited palette of paints because you want to keep the load as light as possible
• A limited number of brushes
• A bottle of water for acrylic and watercolour painters
• 2 jars with a lit for water to wash brushes and dilute paints (for acrylic or watercolour paints), or for solvents when painting with oil paints
• Paper towels or cloth for wiping brushes and hands
• Palette, stay-wet palette keeps paints workable longer and enables an easier transport of paints
• Mediums
• Different sizes of supports (Paper, boards, or canvas)
• Easel

Checklist for Non-Painting Essentials:
• Hat and sunscreen on a sunny day
• Umbrella
• Layered clothing so you can easily adjust your outfit to the changing weather
• Cold or hot beverages depending on the weather as well as a healthy lunch and/or snack because being in the fresh air makes you hungry and thirsty
• Fold-up stool or chair if you are painting in a seated position as well as for breaks
• Insect repellent.
• A garbage bags
• Orange®Pumice Lotion Hand Cleaner
• Flashlight if you're going to paint into the evening hours
• Camera to take some reference photos in case you have to finish the painting in your studio
• Fingerless gloves for the first colder days of autumn or the beginning of spring when the temperatures are still chilly in the morning
• Chemical hand warmers in the winter, also for use in your boots.
• Piece of thick carpet to stand or sit on which will provide some insulation from the cold ground

When scouting locations for painting, you do not have to travel far: a local park, a friend's lovely flower garden, old houses or farm sheds, waterfalls, or outdoor museums make wonderful spots for a paint-out. Make sure you can safely set up your equipment by being clearly visible to traffic.

When you choose your subject matter, get inspired by the change of the seasons and events taking place in your neighbourhood. It is helpful to plan ahead where you want to, and remember that you don't have to paint everything you see. Consider the essence of the scene, and simplify. Get together some painting buddies, and most important of all: Have fun! Feel the connection to your surroundings and let the energy become part of your paintings.

Are you intrigued to go painting outside? I hope you got inspired by my blog. If you would like more information about any painting issues please please do not hesitate to contact me at kpeters@DomingoInformatics.ca. You can also sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you enjoyed my blog and know someone who might also like to read it, please forward it. I would like to thank you in advance for helping me to increase my audience.

 

 

Why I use oil paints when working “en plein air”

St. Pascal Fields, Oil

May 9, 2014

If you have visited my website and read my bio before, you will have come about the sentence: “For her studio paintings she prefers acrylic paint, while her plein air work is now solely done in oil due to its better characteristics for the Canadian climate.”

Maybe, you have wondered why oil paints are better suited for the Canadian climate then acrylic paints. There must be a reason why I switched from my favourite medium to oil paints.

When I started painting “en plein air”, I was still using acrylic paints because I felt very comfortable using them. For the first couple of times, this was not a problem because I was located in a spot sheltered from wind and direct sunlight. I had my special stay-wet palette and some retarder with me to extend the drying time of my paints. I enjoyed being able to take my canvas with me without problems after we were finished painting because by then my paint was dry to the touch. When I saw all my friends with their special boxes to transport their paintings, I was glad I did not have to worry about getting a wet painting home.

However, one early fall day we went to a quiet road in St. Pascal. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures still in the high 20s. Even though, I had an umbrella, I got really frustrated because I could hardly get my paint onto the canvas before it was dry. Painting that day was definitely not fun.

Lucky for me, Golden Paints had just come out with a new product called “Open Acrylics” which possesses an increased working time due to a slow-drying formulation. I tried them but I was not happy with their softer consistency compared to the Golden Heavy Body paints I usually use. I was also not happy with the coverage of the paint. The Heavy Body paints allow me to easily paint over mistakes, and I noticed this was not as easily done with the Open Acrylics. However, the determining factor not to switch to Open Acrylics was the fact that the working time did not increase enough while painting outdoors.


I finally switched to oil paints, and use them now exclusively while painting “en plein air”. I bought my own boxes to carry my paintings, and have to admit that once I got myself organized, I did not need more equipment than when painting with acrylic paints. I do not have to carry water containers around with me anymore to clean the acrylic paint of my brushes right away. Tightly covered in cling wrap, my oil-covered brushes will still be perfectly fine to use the next day. I still do not enjoy cleaning my oil paint brushes but at least I have to do it less frequently.

Moreover, I truly enjoy painting with oil paints. I like that I can blend colours easily and mix big quantities of paint without having to worry about them being dried out by the time I need that colour. I also have to worry less about the weather. Rain, snow, or strong wind gusts will still make it impossible to paint outside if I do not find a sheltered spot. High or low temperatures, however, will have more influence on my own comfort level than on the workability of the oil paints.

However, in the studio I still prefer my acrylic paints. In a controlled environment, I know exactly how to use them to my advantage. In addition, there is also the fact that it has happened more than once that I finished a painting for an exhibition just hours before the hanging. Acrylic paints dry very fast to the touch, so I could still deliver the painting on time. In the case of an oil painting this would be impossible. The drying time is anywhere from a couple of days to months.

I hope you got inspired by my blog. If you would like more information on the difference of acrylic and oil paints, their advantages and disadvantages, please sign up on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for my monthly newsletter which is published on the last Wednesday of every month. You will automatically receive my free eBook “I Am Ready To Paint But Where Do I Start?”.

If you enjoyed my blog and know someone who might also like to read it, please forward it. I would like to thank you in advance for helping me to increase my audience.


Tulip Magic” - Painting “en plein air”

May 2, 2014

May is the month of the Tulip Festival in Ottawa. I always feel that it is the unofficial start of spring. Usually, my friends and I spent at least one day in one of the festival locations to paint the tulips.

 

I started the 8" x 10"oil painting “Tulip Magic” at the Commissioners Park in Ottawa, during the 2011 Tulip Festival. Although it was almost finished on site, it took me until the following year to work on it again because I do not like to use oil paints in my studio due to the smell. This has always been a problem until last summer, when I had the great idea to finish a whole bunch of oil paintings in our yard while sitting under the gazebo.

 

If you have followed my blogs for a while, you have heard the term ``en plein air``, which literally means “in the open air|”, a couple of times. At the end of the 19th century, the Impressionists were the first who left their studios to paint on location to observe nature and the effects of the changing light on the landscape.


I love painting outside because I feel so much closer to nature when I am sitting or standing in front of my easel while observing the scenery in front of me. I love watching the clouds, listening to the animals, feeling the breeze of the wind, and the sun on my skin. Another reason to go ”plein air” painting is the fun I have spending time with my painting buddies. Within the last couple of years, I have made many friends among fellow painters.


Except for the few times when I painted right in my backyard or at the cottage, I always go out with some of my painting buddies. It just feels safer. The reason is not that I expect to be mugged in my paint-covered clothes but there is always a change that things go wrong. Especially in autumn and winter, or after a rainy day, there is a danger that you might slip on wet ground. I also have a friend who managed a couple of times to end up in the water. There is also the change that you may ask your friend for the one colour you desperately need but did not bring, and last but not least it is just more fun to sit together during lunch and admire each other's works.


When I went outside to paint for the very first time, I felt completely overwhelmed with what I saw. If you are painting from a photograph or even from a still live the borders of your painting are already more or less defined. In nature you experience an information overload.


Therefore, it is very important to take some time to look around before you decide on an area you would like to paint. It is impossible to paint everything you see. Think about the focus of the painting, and simplify to include only the essence of your scene.


Capturing the scene in front of you is quite a challenge because it will change very fast because clouds and the the sun move across the sky. Therefore, you have to put the main shapes of your landscape on your canvas, and then decide at one point to stick to a certain image, otherwise you will not stop reworking your landscape and never get anywhere.


If you paint with a group, it is not a bad idea to look for a spot with different painting possibilities because each painter works at his/her own speed. My friend Janis, for example, usually paints two paintings in the time I need for one. She has never rushed me but takes off for a walk or just observes our surroundings when she does not feel like starting another painting. Nevertheless, I find it more relaxing when I know she can easily find a second spot to paint just by moving her easel.


As much as I love painting outside, there is one thing that really made me nervous at the beginning: People coming up to me to look at my painting and even taking photos. The more crowded the place is that you are painting at, the more people will approach you. In general, I have gotten used to this, and appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk with everyone. Most people are very polite and supportive. Even when the painting is not coming along the way I hoped for, they usually are very positive with their comments.


There was only one occasion when I got annoyed: A grandmother asked me whether her granddaughter could just take my brush and pretend to paint on my canvas while she took a photo. I found that very rude.


At last year's Tulip Festival, I got quite nervous when a class of school children came so close, I was afraid they would throw down my paints or run into my brushes. At the end, I decided it was time to pack it in for the day.


All this is, however, not a common problem because we often look for spots that are less frequented. The Tulip Festival is just special. We painters are not the only ones who go downtown every year to celebrate the arrival of spring and to commemorate Canada's role in providing a safe exile for he Dutch Royal Family during the German Occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War.


After the return of Princess Juliana and her children to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada to show her gratitude. The tulip became Ottawa's official flower. Nowadays, the tulips have such an appeal that the festival attracts more than 500,000 people every year. Will you be one of them?

 

I hope you got inspired to enjoy nature. You do not need to be a painter to observe the amazing beauty. To have a closer look into my painting world, please visit my website www.KerstinPeters.ca for weekly updates. A new blog will be published on my website every Friday. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter on my website www.KerstinPeters.ca. If you enjoyed my blog and know someone who might also like to read it, please forward my blog. I would like to thank you in advance for helping me to increase my audience.


 

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