Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Custom City Painting in Progress - Part 2

So where did we leave off?

I blocked in the entire background field, varying the hue and the value, leaving nice thick swaths of brush strokes. This is a painting after all, not a bstore-bought poster. Let the hand-made quality shine through.

Now, on to the type.

And with typography, there's a fine line between aesthetically beautiful, hand -made  renderings ... and just plain sloppy. That is why I did take great care to transfer the type to the canvas: size, proportion and alignment are true and measured. Edges are strong if not precise. At a distance, the edges of this particular typeface appear strong, clean and clear. Close inspection may reveal soft variations and irregularities -- I don't paint with a ruler - but the general strength of the line is strong and solid.

I love lines.

My client wanted the type to be white, with a slight shadow or dark edge. Flat white fill would have been an easy solution. But instead, I began painting the type with a dark layer of Payne's Grey and then gradually built it up with lighter values of paint. 

See the edges of "Las Vegas"   and then the light gray filling inside the letters (below). Compare to the word beneath, where brighter layers of white have been added on top of the same treatment.

See what I mean? The type is no longer just flat. It's nice and chunky.

Up close and personal, it's not perfect. But it works.

"C" for super "CHUNK."

I'm very close to finishing and I'm pleased with the result so far. Check back over the weekend to see the final painting.

Please contact me if you have a painting of your own in mind -- cities, countries, places or names of your choosing. Your family members, perhaps?  Anything is possible; I can create a unique piece for you or a loved one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Custom City Painting in Progress - Part 1

Shades of gray...........

I'm so pleased to be taking on another commissioned "cities" painting -- and I've been documenting the steps so you can see that it truly is a painting that is custom made-to-order.

My client has requested a personal array of cities to be displayed on canvas, as offered here, and also chosen a color palette: white lettering on charcoal gray. 

Here we go............

First, I created a layout of the type on my mac. The result is not very painterly, far from it -- but it does provide a plan for the painting.

I then scale up the image to 36"x48" and printed out black and white versions of the image in pieces, on regular 8.5" x 11" paper. I will use these printouts to transfer the design to the canvas surface.

To transfer the type, it's time to go old school - I cut the pieces to transfer, trimming them down to the edges, and then flip them over. I take a nice soft piece of charcoal and cover the back side of the paper with it, until it's thoroughly covered.

After marking the canvas with a t-square, creating the alignment lines for the type, I lay down the printed sheets of text, charcoal side down, and tape in place. Using a ball point pen (but any sort of stylus will do)  I trace over the edges of the type on the printed side of the paper strips. This effectively transfers the charcoal onto the canvas surface.

This is a very old technique -  using a "cartoon"  -  a variation of which would be to prick very tiny holes through the original printed paper (or drawing), to be transferred. After placing the pin-pricked paper on your canvas, you "pounce" it with charcoal dust which passes through the holes onto the canvas, effectively transferring the outlines of your design.

Since the charcoal is easily smudged, I  next used a soft pencil to roughly re-draw the lines and make them stronger. City by city, the canvas fills up with sketches.

Now it's time to mix some paint. 

I could use a simple mix of black and white, but that would be rather dull and flat.  Rather than using any black, I am using Payne's Gray (below, left), which is a dark, cool, bluish gray, made from mixtures of black, blue and occasionally crimson pigments. I also pulled out tubes of Prussian Blue, (second from left), Alizarin Crimson (3rd from left) and Titanium White (far right).

The Payne's Gray comes out of the tube looking as if it were black. As I mix in some Titanium White, it begins to take on a cool, rich and smokey gray color.

By adding small, sparing amounts of the Prussian Blue, the Alizarin Crimson and the Titanium White,  I can change the appearance of the gray ever so slightly. I don't mix large amounts of paint at one time, so each time I mix up a quantity of paint, it is never the same. And that's great!  I'm not painting a living room wall nor the side of a house -- variation in color and value is a good thing. 

I begin to lay in the background color around the edges of the lettering.

I mix and re-mix, varying the amounts of pigment and white and gradually fill in the background around the letters, letting the variations in value and hue remain.

Next up -- layers of paint on the letters.... stay tuned for part 2.......

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Time to go Old School -- send a handwritten card for a change.

Now offering 5-pack note card samplers, each card adorned with one of my watercolor paintings. Each card has a different image on the front and is blank inside.

Size: A2 (5.5" x 4.25")
Set contains: 5 Folded Cards and envelopes

I print these cards on Conqueror Diamond White 118# cover stock paper, using an Epson R3000 printer with archival inks. All cards are printed, cut and folded by hand.

Envelopes are 70# "Whip Cream" colored Pop Tone envelopes, with a deep flap, by French Paper Company.

Send a little bit of the caribbean to a friend!

See the two sample packs offered here and here, each pack of 5 is only $12.50!

Monday, March 05, 2012

A Change of Face

A return to my watery pen and inks.  Loose like a goose.

Turban 11"x16.5" ink on watercolor paper.