Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ask Stape 4

Dear Stape:
I looked up alizarin blue and found your web site. How do you make gray with complementary colors?
How do you avoid black?
I use water soluble colored pencils and everyone here just says: What??
signed ; Loratadine

Gray by definition contains white, I guess. It is possible to mix two compliments of a medium hue and get gray of a medium hue. Since you said you are working in water soluble colored pencils, I think you are not using white and there's where you are having the problem. Perhaps you can get white to lighten things up, or perhaps you can use a gray that is already in a pencil and then "step" on it with another color to influence it. I will refrain from saying "what?", but I have never used water soluble pencils.

I might suggest you try oils , watercolors or gouache, and you will have less problems with those.There is a reason why the three I have just named have been standard in the art world for so long. Most of the new mediums and systems bring with them little problems that were long ago solved in the historical mediums.

Dear Stape:

When painting plein air, how do you get figures into the painting?

Signed ; One Ulna

Dear One Ulna:

I generally go after that, this way. If I am in a location where people are around I will wait until somebody walks where I want a figure and then put them in as best I can. Then I grab my camera which I have laid out ahead of time for this purpose, and shoot a quick shot of them. I can use that in the studio to help me get from my rough location sketch to where I want it to go.

Often though, no one is where I want to put some one . I then ask whoever I am painting with if they would run down to where I want the figure and stand there for a minute or so. Then I put them in as best I can, that gives me the proper scale for the figure in the landscape, which can be difficult to achieve. Then, again in the studio, I work it up, with or without references into what I want the finished painting to look like. I also have been known to clothe figures in landscapes out of LL Bean or other mail order catalogs. You may be hipper to fashion than I am, and if all of our customers were men it might not matter, but it is good to get the right "look" on the clothing, and that is a way to do it.

Dear Stape:

I have been looking for untempered Masonite to use for making panels. The high school girl who works at the local hardware store has never heard of untempered Masonite. Her boyfriend, the owner of the store, says he hasn't had it in twenty years. Do you use the untempered? Does it matter?

signed; Mick


The untempered has become hard to find, the tempered which is impregnated with a little oil to make it more resistant to water, is the only sort I see around now.That's one of the reasons I like to prime in oil based primer rather than acrylic gesso. If I am priming in acrylic that oil is a problem but the oil based primer should be compatible with it.

Dear Stape:

What mediums do you use as the paint stiffens up in the cold? I remember another artist mentioned that Neo- Meglip by Gamblin was the ticket. Many others gum up like the paints themselves. Also my girlfriend down at the store likes Hannah Montana and I mostly listen to Petula Clark and Gale Garnett, do you think we can ever find common ground musically?

Signed; BMOC

Dear BMOC;

I am not real familiar with the working qualities of neo- meglip at low temperatures, but I have had no problems with Liquin original or a varnish, turpentine and oil medium. Here is a post on mediums from the archives. If you are a reader using, neo meglip outside in the cold, why don't you weigh in on this.

Also, BMOC, I think both you and Lolita will groove out on Neil Diamond, he's a lot like Gale Garnett AND Hannah Montana, but you really should go back to your wives, you know they love and miss you ...


Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the Boston International Art Show is on this weekend. I helped set up the Guilds booth and got to see some of the art that other exhibitors have brought. The general caliber of the art is VERY high. There is some very serious stuff there. Come see it, there are wonderful 19th century paintings, and there are important galleries selling contemporary art too. If you are a painter and live in the Boston area this should be on your to do list, it is a real experience.


Ben Bauer said...

what the hell is BMOC?

Stapleton Kearns said...

BMOC is a fictional character who is posing the question to Stape. All identities on this post have been adjusted for maximum opacity. BMOC is an archaic abbreviation for Big Man on Campus.
Ulna is an unfortunate widow who has but a single arm.
Mick is English or Irish or one of those.
Loratadine is Ethyl 4-(8-chloro-5,6-dihydro-11H-

Gregory Becker said...

LOL at your first comment. Great post. I love the advice on figures in the landscape. I have recently been looking into how to achieve that convincingly.
Stape if you'll be in Boston...Stop by and see Wendy Artin's exhibition * COLUMNAE * at Gurari Collections, 460 Harrison Street, Boston MA, 02118 as well. She is the reason I decided to become an artist. I'm still becoming.

2willowsart said...

For those who use acrylic gesso. There is a product from Golden called GAC 100, it is used as a size to seal the canvas and protect it from oil from the paint seeping through and harming the canvas. I use it on panels to seal whatever might be in the masonite from migrating into the painting.