Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yellow Roses and Pink Flowers - Still Life

I'm beginning to think of still life painting as a sort of therapy.  When I'm totally frustrated and at a loss with whatever painting I'm currently working on...or even if I just need a break...still life seems just what the doctor ordered.  This still life served just such a therapeutic purpose.  I'm currently working on two involved paintings, one a figure in a complicated costume and the other a large landscape.  Neither seems to be going particularly well at the moment.  It was time for a break from the struggle. 

Last weekend I wandered into the garden, clipped some yellow roses and some pink flowers. (I don't know what the pink flowers are...but the "bush" they are growing on is the size of a small to medium tree.  I don't cut it as I probably should because it provides some much needed shade on the small patio adjoining my studio.)   I haven't used this particular vase before so I put the flowers in and around it, draped a white towel over my cardboard still life "stage" and away I went. 

I have about four hours in this 16" x 12" painting.    I'd like to do a bit more study on still life painting and in particular, learn more about painting flowers, but until I do I find these simple setups a lot of fun to do.  There's something pretty freeing about still life...and those wonderful colors are just great to dive into! 

Yellow Roses with Pink Flowers   Oil on canvas  16 x 12"

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Murphy to the Rescue! Cleaning Old Brushes

When I first began painting, I was pretty careless with my brushes.  For the most part I used bristle filberts which held up reasonably well to my vigorous painting style, but not to my neglect.  I rarely cleaned my brushes thoroughly: if I did any cleaning at all it was a quick dunking in the OMS and a wipe off.  Over time I collected jar after jar of stiff, unresponsive and virtually useless brushes.  Most of them should have been thrown away long ago.

Some time ago, I was told about Murphy Oil Soap as a brush cleaner, and I've even tried it a few times with success, but I never paid a lot of attention, frankly.  Recently I noticed the jars full of useless brushes littering my studio, and Murphy Soap came back to mind.  It's available at any grocery or hardware store, so the next time I was shopping I picked up a bottle.  I can't remember what I paid, but it's inexpensive.  I partially filled a glass jar and tossed in a few of my worst brushes.  I checked back a few days later and found a minor miracle had occurred.  My brushes were almost like new...the bristles clean, soft and pliable again.  I'm now going through the whole collection of ruined brushes a few at a time.  I don't know what the heck I'm going to do with all these "new" brushes.

Here's a picture of Murphy Oil Soap for your information.  Next to it you'll see my brushes 'soaking'.   One thing you'll notice is that the Murphy in the jar has coagulated to the consistancy of vaseline.  I imagine that is due to evaporation of some part of the soap.  However, I haven't noticed any lessening of the cleaning power as a result.  I just dunk the brushes in the gunk!  It works.  After a few days, I wipe the brush down and then wash with either a conventional brush cleaner or plain ol' dishwashing soap.  I have found a couple of brushes that were beyond repair.  If the old paint is too built up at the base (or belly) of the brush, just above the farrell, it may not be possible to clean it out to a new condition.  It could be that eventually Murphy would even get that problem, but I figure if it won't do it in a couple of days of soaking, it's not worth the effort.

Nowadays, I'm very careful with my brushes and I clean them properly after every session, but it's been fun to see my old neglected brushes ready to go again.  I have more than I know what to do with!

By the way, Murphy works fantastically on dried acrylic brushes also.  In fact, it seems to clean them more quickly than the oil brushes.

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rose in a Coke Bottle - Still Life

More roses!  Today was a hot Sunday afternoon.  But I'm not complaining: it was a perfect California Summer Day!  About 3 PM I'd finished all the chores to prepare for the week and I had the urge to paint.  I knew I wouldn't have much time, so I decided to do another simple still life.

My granddaughter Lily had left a coke bottle on the table on the backyard deck and it caught my eye.  I pruned a couple of roses from the garden and set up this simple still life.  The yellow roses quickly wilted because they weren't in water, and by the end of the painting, they were flat and shapeless...and that's my excuse for why mine look flat and shapeless in the painting!  I really need to spend some time learning to paint roses!

This painting is done on Ampersand Gessobord.  It's a very slick surface and I like it quite a bit.  It takes some getting used to...and I'm not totally there yet...but the colors stay on the surface nicely.  I have about 1 1/2 hours in this small study.  When it sets a bit, I'm going to have another go at the roses, I think.

Roses and Coke Bottle    12" x 9" Oil on Gessobord  

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art