I recently did my first virtual guest interview as a new instructor for the YellowBarnStudio.com. Due to the pandemic, like many other schools, all of their art classes have been pushed to online only. That and I’ve been upping my art marketing game on social media, posting time lapses of painting, live videos and bought a bunch of stuff like a new webcam (as my, now antique, Intel and Micro webcams are no longer supported by drivers, other than through iffy nefarious websites). I’ve downloaded open broadcast software (OBS), virtual cables and software mixers, in order to jump into the deep end of streaming online content. Oh yeah, and I blog about art. I’m not a geek (well maybe a paint geek), and this stuff is not for the faint of heart (it’s complicated, and technically challenging), and I crashed my wimpy laptop trying to run multiple video inputs into Zoom while also running OBS. the lightweight last year state of the art laptop was only running an Intel core i5 processor, and after spending hours and heaps of scarce resources, I come to find out that I need a gaming PC with more ass.
It’s like the artist’s curse (where you hate your own art). I remember saying in the interview that you go in thinking and visualizing X and what comes out of your paintbrush is Y. I’m actually more committed to art now than ever... and then there is painting. In response to this masochistic endeavor, I’ve learned heaps about this ephemeral pastime... you see, I don’t have that je ne sais quoi performance Art gene... that thespian ability to put myself in third person and buffoon myself (that and I cannot, for the life of me, remember music chord progressions or lyrics). But I have learned some techniques like neurolinguistic programming (NLP), you know, fake your brain out by telling yourself ‘painting is fun and easy’ over and over again like a mantra, hoping beyond hope that it will sink into my subconscious and become reality. It’s much more natural for stuff to seep out of my subconscious into my paintings symbolically with me completely unawares (ask me about painting roosters).
Which brings me to Juju. Unlike gummy juju beans, Juju is some African mysticism featuring amulets and fetishes.... there is good Juju and evil Juju. Like meditation, mantras, and Juju, there is religion... praying before each painting that God will work through me to create my next masterpiece. Serendipity favors the well prepared. My art Mentor, Walt Bartman, said... ‘always treat your next painting as though it were your next masterpiece.’ That, and I’ve learned the regardless how I feel about the mistakes in my painting, not to talk about it with potential buyer.
This post is really about my painting tools... my palette, brushes, paints and others less obvious aspects like paper towels and pump pliers. There is so much that goes into a painting, books and books worth, the types of brushes, how to clean them, how to keep moths from eating your sable brushes. And, that’s not to mention the craziness of actually painting... light, value, color theory, design, composition, edge control, perspective, an altogether other library of books or now YouTube videos. And on top of all that we are people, so add to that, we like to paint people... anatomy, drapery, six kinds of folds and wrinkles, mass, form, three dimension chicanery... trompe l’oeil.
I’ve learned to use all manner of things in order to create what I would call traditional art... dividers, calipers, tweezers, screwdrivers, drills, levels... even framing squares and and tape measures. The sheer number of pigments out there, alone, is staggering, and then there are the ones with bad Juju... zinc, aluminum, copper arsenic, lead. Fugitives that change color, lightfast ones that don’t fade, transparent ones and opaque ones, painting techniques like direct and indirect. Mineral spirits are really awful with their volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)... carcinogens. Turpentine wasn’t even introduced into painting, until probably much later, before that it was just linseed oil from the flax plant.
Okay, I just got distracted down some internet turpentine rabbit hole for an hour... basically the real deal is very pleasant smelling, and the stuff made from pulp wood and kerosene, not so much, both toxic, which is another story, altogether. It’s a VOC regardless, naturally, it’s full of terpenes like pinene and limonene... they are the aromatic oils that we get things like pine smell and citrus smell from. When life gives you lemons... paint lemons.
If learning more about painting materials and methods interests you, I’m teaching a virtual course in it starting next Monday, January 18. https://www.ssreg.com/glenechopark/classes/classes.asp?courseid=39500&catid=4408