Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tech Talk: Pigments - Week 6

Lightfastness Test Strips
(bottom half is the sun-exposed section)

Back in January, I painted these test strips of Mission Gold watercolors because I was concerned about the lightfastness of the pigments used in manufacturing these paints.  As I've reported before, I cut the sheet down the center and put half in a drawer in my flat files and half on an enclosed porch that gets a few hours of strong sun on clear days.  Despite the limited sun exposure during our rainy winter months, there are definite changes to many of these pigments.

The sun-exposed yellow has become darker in the full-strength strip, but other colors have either become slightly dull or are changing color slightly.  At full strength, permanent rose, permanent violet, and burnt sienna are faded and somewhat duller now and prussian blue is slightly faded and also leaning towards green. 

Changes are more noticeable in the tints, which is often the case with impermanent pigments.  While orange and peacock blue had only slight fading, there is noticeable fading to the permanent rose, rose madder, permanent violet, prussian blue, and burnt sienna.  Sap green and Van Dyke brown both showed moderate fading. 

Out of curiosity, I changed the white background of my photo to a 60% grey tone in Photoshop.  The neutral grey really makes the colors pop and makes it easier to see the changes to the sun-exposed pigments.

I'll be leaving the test section in place on the porch for the forseeable future.  Even with many hours of full sunlight, it can take several months to see the full extent of changes to pigments.  I plan to report back here in a month.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mugshots and mustard...

I've just released two more images as mugs -- on the left, Debonair Duck and Colonel Mustard on the right. Mr. D. Duck is a vintage salt shaker in real life and Colonel Mustard is a vintage mustard pot, although I don't think he has a clue that he's such a lowly table item -- not with that fierce demeanor!! These two bring the mug count in my Zazzle shop up to an even dozen. Pop over and check them out!!

The subject of mustard brings me around to some photos of my neighborhood.  Our area had extensive orchards many years ago and a few remnants still exist.  This nearly defunct orchard is about three blocks from my house -- it's mostly walnut trees (or what's left of them), but there are two or three flowering trees too, probably plum.

February is mustard time here and we have a bumper crop this year, due to generous rainfall in December and January.  A "booster shot" storm early last week set the fields abloom this weekend.


Happy Monday!!  Have a fabulous week!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Peeps mugs!!!

Calling all Peeps lovers!! Check out the new mugs in my Zazzle shop!! Be the first on your block to collect them all!!! 

What a great trio this makes -- all the primary colors!!  Three of my Peeps paintings are reproduced on classic white mugs and the images are printed on both sides so your breakfast mates can enjoy them too. Get one (or two or three!!) at my Zazzle store -- ChrisBeckStudio.

These are high quality mugs with bright, clear graphics, as you can see. They can be used in the microwave, but should not be run through the dishwasher.

L to R: Five blue Peeps join a couple of vintage ceramic bluebird salt shakers in "What Did You Expect From Marshmallow Eggs?"  A clever tin toy frog thinks he can hide out in a box of classic yellow Peeps in "Spring Peepers." A solitary pink Peep sits on a nest of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, dreaming of hatching a flock of chicks in "Hope Springs Eternal."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Images from the Shanghai Biennial...

Opening reception begins

I discovered that there were some new pictures of the Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial on their website, including some views of the actual gallery displays.  To my delight, I saw my own painting in one of the photos, although you almost need a magnifying glass to see it!! 

They have a short slide show that covers some of the opening ceremony activities in addition to the gallery images. If you'd like to check it out, you can click here.  You can either view the slide show or click on the individual thumbnail images to enlarge them. To begin the slide show, hover your mouse over the large image to bring up the start button. My blue morning glory painting appears on the far back wall in the next to last slide, shown below.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pigment Play: Lunar Black

Daniel Smith's Lunar Black & friends

Playing with paint is a great way to get to know the properties of the pigments on your palette. From color mixes to novel textures, the opportunities for discovery are endless. Starting today, I'm occasionally going to share some of my experiments and hope you'll be inspired to try some of these yourself.  For the record, I am not affiliated with any of the watercolor manufacturers and will simply feature whatever grabs my attention.

One of the most unusual watercolor paints on the market is Daniel Smith's Lunar Black.  Consisting of Mars black and black iron oxide, it yields fabulous granulation effects -- either by itself or when mixed with other paints.  In the photo above, you see the Lunar Black at the center of the top sample. At the far left is a mixture of Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Deep Gold and Lunar Black. Far right, Daniel Smith's Transparent Pyrrol Orange mixed with Lunar Black. In my experience, it's best mixed with clear strong colors, but it's just plain fun to play with -- I encourage you to get a tube and experiment. As with any granulating paint, you need to lay down a reasonably wet wash and leave it alone until it's dry. Any rebrushing or attempts to add to the wash will disrupt the granulation.

Lunar Black also has a unique property -- because of the use of iron oxide, the paint responds to manipulation with magnets.  In the bottom sample, you see a square of plain Lunar Black on the left. In the center, I've held a small circular magnet under the paper in various places while the wash was still wet to get a dot pattern.  On the right, I took a somewhat larger magnet and moved it around continuously under the paper to concentrate the pigment. If you look closely, you can see evidence of swirling as the magnet attracts the iron particles in the paint. I'm not sure exactly how I'd use this feature in my paintings, but I think it might have promise for landscapes or abstract work.

Until next time, that's it for Pigment Play!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New mugs in my Zazzle store...

Spring fever gave me the idea to add a few items to my Zazzle store. Friends have been asking for mugs featuring some of my vintage salt shakers and a few other images, so I got busy a few days ago and set up some new pieces.  These samples that arrived today look great and I've added them to the store.  The images appear on both sides -- that way your breakfast mates can enjoy the art too!! Choose from Old Salt, Blue Peeps, and Morning Glorious -- or any of the other mugs or postage stamps in the shop. Just click on this link: ChrisBeckStudio to see all the goodies.

p.s. The title of the painting shown on the Blue Peeps mug is "What Did You Expect From Marshmallow Eggs?"