Since I paint standing up and don’t use an easel, my posture has been on my mind. After several hours standing there, I hurt. Even if I move around a lot, stretch and stuff, by the end of a work (?) day my legs and back hur. It goes away pretty fast, but I think I need to get a stool on which to perch and maybe a legit easel.
I’ve been painting garden signs. No arty painting on the table at the moment. These are the recent projects, commissions:
The top is for my wonderful neighbor who gave me all those beautiful flagstones for the ever-evolving yard/garden. I offered her one of my paintings, and she told me that she really wanted a garden sign. Her garden is amazing. It’s a small park. Everything on the sign grows in the alley between our houses and hummingbirds have been a solace and distraction to her and her husband this strange summer. “Count Your Blessings” is a thing we talk about fairly often.
The lower one is a gift from my cousin’s daughter to her mom. I wish I had stepped back a bit because the “am” is too close to the “the” but OH well. As they say, paint and learn.
The coolest part of the lower sign, for me, was mixing paint. For YEARS I’ve had jars of raw pigment that I got on cheap at an art store that was going out of business. By years I mean like fifteen years. I paint the signs with acrylic paint and it hit me, “Hey wait a minute. I HAVE the color I need. I just need to MAKE it.”
I opened the box where I store my oil paints and some other treasures. In many ways, the box isn’t very practical for paints. My beloved Uncle Hank made it as a jewelry box for my Aunt Jo, and my Aunt Jo gave it to me. In the bottom, under the little tray that is supposed to hold jewelry and that holds my oil paints, are the six or seven jars of raw pigment.
Now I just needed a medium to mix the color into. Hmmmm…
I went online, of course. As I researched, a dim memory from the summer after 9th grade began shoving other thoughts aside. Mr. Dix, my art teacher in 9th grade, thought I should grow up to be a painter and arranged for one of my classmates and I to take classes from Mary Chenoweth at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Don’t ask me how I remember her name, but I do… The memory is a foreign country.
My mom wasn’t happy about this. First, she hated art and did not want me to be an artist. Second, she didn’t want to drive me down there twice a week. I went once. But in that lesson, I learned how to make acrylic paint which, at the time, 1967, was a comparatively new medium for fine art. It had only been around since 1959.
She taught us to take powdered tempera paint, put it into a bottle, add some Elmer’s Glue and shake it up. If I were British, I’d say, “And Bob’s your uncle.” My classmate and I then painted still lifes (good ones!) with the paint we’d made. When my mom said she wouldn’t drive me any more, my teacher offered, but OH WELL there went my formal art training…
Which begs the question, why didn’t I ride my bike?
Anyhoo….so yesterday, watching videos about making acrylic paint all of which talked about buying this medium or that medium, my one summer art class came back to me. “Fuck it,” I said, “Elmer’s glue.
I posted the above photo on Facebook, and a friend said, “What’s the dirt for?” I LOVED that because that brown stuff IS dirt. “Cleaned” dirt from Umbria, Italy. The paint worked beautifully, and I was grateful to Mary Chenoweth for teaching me this skill. You can see it outlining the blue below and the letters. It was REALLY nice paint, but I made too much. I learned that 1) a little goes a long way, 2) dry pigment flies around everywhere and is POTENT.
Mary Chenoweth’s point in teaching us this skill was that paint is expensive. That is absolutely true. The FULL price for the raw pigment was $11.00 fifteen years ago, so it’s probably more now, but an 8 oz tube of paint is at LEAST that much. I didn’t even use 1/4 the amount of paint I made and it made no dent in the amount of powder remaining in the jar. I don’t know if I’m going to get into the whole thing of making my own paint all the time, but I have learned that I can use these beautiful natural pigments.