ABOUTS

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People ask me all the time which medium I like best. I like several, actually, and on this page I’ll tell you a little about them. I like to switch back and forth, because I might want to convey power and volume through sculpture one day, and the next emotions and delight through color the next. Here are a few of my favorites.

WHAT ARE GOUACHES?

Also referred to as bodycolor and opaque watercolor, the term “gouaches” was first used during the eighteenth century in France to describe the use of a translucent water-based paint that had been rendered opaque by the addition of white pigment or chalk bound together with a binding agent such as gum arabic.

Contrary to watercolor’s key characteristic of transparent luminosity, gouache is defined by its matte and opaque quality. Today’s commercially available product known as gouache differs considerably from that used by earlier draftsmen. (Louis-Gabriel Moreau, Parc de Saint-Cloud, 1955.188; Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Trapeze at the Medrano Circus, 1934.34). (thanks to the Harvard Art Museum)

I like to use very thick gouaches on top of Sumi ink, the ultra-black Japanese ink used for calligraphy. If you hold the painting just right, any place the paint has not covered the ink appears black, held in another angle to the light and it appears silver. Quite beautiful.

PASTELS

Pastels are made by blending dry powdered pigments with a nongreasy liquid binding medium such as gum arabic.

The resultant paste is usually rolled into a stick and then dried.

Pastels were invented at the end of the 15th century in northern Italy, and it is thought that Leonardo da Vinci was the first artist to use them, although none of his pastel drawings are known today.

A wide spectrum of pastel colors is possible, and by the 18th century, some artists endeavored to imitate the power and richness of oil painting through a coloristic and painterly style of draftsmanship, so that many of the finest pastels of the period are known as “pastel paintings.”

(look for:
Federico Barocci, Study for the Head of Christ, 1986.535
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Portrait of the Painter
Jean-Jacques Bachelieu, 1939.89
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Two Dancers Entering the Stage, 1943.812
Odilon Redon, Head of a Young Woman, 1943.905).

OIL PAINTING

Oils: a painting medium in which pigments are mixed with drying oils, such as linseed, walnut, or poppy. (thank you for definition to: wga.hu/index1.html

Though oils had been used [as a painting medium] in the Middle Ages, it was not until the van Eyck brothers in the early 15th century that the medium became fully developed.

Oil painting reached Italy during the 1460s and by the end of the century had largely replaced tempera.

Artists preferred oil painting for its brilliance of detail, its richness of colour, and its greater tonal range.

BLACK INK

I don’t think I have to explain what a black and white drawing is. But the way I do them is a bit different. I like a very smooth surface when I use pen and inks, so I draw on a 3/8th inch archival foam core board that has a marvelous, silky-smooth, cold-pressed surface..

I also use a very thick solution of Black Japanese Sumi Calligraphic Ink rather than regular India Inks because it is so thick and deeply, richly black.

The line I can achieve can vary drastically from almost non-visible thin to fat and juicy. But since I have a pretty heavy hand, the thin lines don’t come in as often.

The Black and White series you will see on these pages came at me at about 3 in the morning. I lay there trying to not open my eyes, but they would have none of it. By 4, I was downstairs drawing. There were about eight or ten in the series, so I was not done till the evening the next night.

As you might have noticed, some of these designs appear elsewhere on this site in color: the colorization of these images happened about five years after these originals. I was going through some of my old files and found these images. I liked them so much I decided to put color to them using gouache paint. Six of those got produced by Amber Lotus Publishing as greeting cards, and 12 were produced by InStone Press in Colorado. You might like one of the excellent prints you can get of almost all of my images at my online print gallery HERE.

STONE CARVING

Sculpt, carve: Making figures or designs in three dimensions; a three-dimensional, free-standing work of art; to shape (a material such as stone or wood); to create by shaping stone or wood or other material (stone, wood, ice, butter, etc.).

Here you see what I see when I start to carve. That piece of stone sits on a table about 30″ off the ground.

It’s a lovely block of striated Oamaru Limestone, from Oamaru New Zealand.

Next to the block of stone, you can see my little chopped-off 2-pound hammer, and various chisels and rifflers (smaller, finer files for details).

Most of them are simple wood-carving tools, since Oamaru stone is pretty soft. I didn’t have any of my hard-stone tools with me there.

This is one of my all-time fave pieces (actually, it’s in my own collection): I’m Happy to Be Me.

This was during my stay as Artist-in-Residence in the small town of Gore, NZ, in 2001-2.

At the time the only power tools I was using there was a grinder to lop off the larger chunks to begin the piece.

The stone was so soft that if you moved too fast, off came a piece that you didn’t want. So I decided to just take it easy and go slow, and carve everything by hand.

Loved it! I carved all my pieces there by hand, except the 2-ton piece at the symposium at Oamaru (where the artists were only allowed to use power tools in the early mornings when the park was free of tourists – then it was chip-chip-chip by hand till 5pm when we could go back to power again!).

I started carving in 1982, when I was still making pots for a living (see below). I’d carve designs in the clay surface which would collect and pool the glazes to enhance the design. One day I thought, what am I making pots for? Why not just carve?

The Inevitable

In 1982, a friend introduced me to some California soapstone…and that was that. Love at first sight.

I fell right into carving. I ate, slept and dreamt of stone, kinds of stone, designs for stone, carving stone, stone tools… I carved using only hand tools for ten years before I felt I was ready for the powerful bite and tremendous speed of machine tools.

Why? Because I wanted to learn the feel of the various types of stone, learn how each one responds to various movement, tool, type of cut; what stone was how hard, came in what colors, could be used for figurative or simple design. I could probably have gone for the rest of my life without using power tools, but being a pretty impatient person and wanting to see reuslts faster, I finally felt that I should make the shift.

So I went to Italy to learn from a master how to use air tools – tools powered by air, rather than by electricity. I had been using power grinders and polishing tools, but air tools are so much easier. I learned how to carve marble there, as well. Read more about that here: Lyon-Art.com.

 

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