Tag Archives: Painter

Studio Space

I enjoy reading Hyperallergic’s A View from the Easel. Artists send in images of their studios along with a written description. I like the messy spaces the best.  They make me wonder what’s going on under all the stuff, and I’m envious of the people who have a huge space in which to spread out. It got me to thinking about own my workspace, which I love but have never called a studio. It holds my easel, a large work table with space for my paints, computer, and stacks of miscellaneous items from my current projects, a bookcase, and a smaller table for my watercolors. I share the space with our dog Louie and his toys. The space in front of my easel is his favorite daytime location.

Louie sharing his space with Floating, acrylic painting on canvas, 30″ x 40″, ©2015

Louie sharing his space with “Floating”, acrylic painting on canvas, 30″ x 40″, ©2015, Pamela Atkinson

It’s a sunny space.  I’m grateful for the floor to ceiling windows, except in the summer when it gets too hot. From early morning the light filters into the room and illuminates my easel. I’m addicted to the light and all the shifts and changes it makes throughout the day. I used to paint through the night under bulbs balanced for daylight,  I still use them to work on my watercolors, but for my larger paintings there is nothing like sunshine. The light helps to define the colors and show off the many layers of pigment I use to create the forms. In return, when the light begins to dim the mood of the painting shifts and the colors take on a mysterious glow.

I’ve always liked working at home. I get feedback from a very knowledgable man and our dog keeps me from taking my painting too seriously. Where do you do your best work?  I’d love to hear, please leave your comments.  

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But I Don’t Need Any Paint!

I’m a paint snob! I only like quality brands and Golden is the only acrylic paint I use. Their fluid acrylics are the best and I can’t do without the Acrylic Glazing Liquid. Depending on the look I want: I paint it on the canvas before I add color, I mix it into the pigment to make it more transparent or to create a glaze, and I use it on top of the paint to blend it. These paints are easy to use and create consistent results and I recommend them to my adult students.

Going to the art supply store is one of the fun things we do on the weekend. It’s a toy store for artists but because my favorite store is 50 miles away, I make sure that my inventory of both acrylic paint and watercolor doesn’t get low. I don’t need paint but Golden has a new line of watercolors called QOR, and I couldn’t resist!  I purchased the High Chroma Set of 6 colors which contained Green Gold, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Cobalt Teal, Dioxazine Purple and Quinacridone Magenta, in 5 ml tubes. The advertising copy says they are “amazingly brilliant” and its true! I’ve used most of the major brands of watercolors and these react in a different way and the colors glow!

For my basic palette, my favorite brand is DaVinci, the paint is high quality and the tubes are large, 37mL, and like Golden, they have always been helpful when I’ve had questions about a product.  Lately, I’ve been using Daniel Smith Watercolors because of all their unusual colors. I’m an artist who prefers to use 5 tubes of paint or less in a painting, so it’s fun to add in colors like Indanthrone Blue and Perylene Maroon.

Most quality brands of paint handle in a similar way, but QOR moves differently on the paper. Gum Arabic is the binder for watercolors but QOR uses a unique product.  There is a nice introductory video on the QOR site that explains the difference.   I needed to make a couple of adjustments to my technique to get the colors to flow one into another without hard edges. With the QOR colors it took more effort to accomplish the fluid look I want, but once I got used to the way it applied I didn’t have a problem. Watercolors come in transparent, opaque, and granulating which look uneven on the surface of the paper, these qualities give a painting its  character. I didn’t use any granulating pigments in the painting below, but the Cobalt Teal (included in the set) is  granulating and Semi-Opaque.  All the pigments I used were transparent, except Dioxazine Purple, which is semitransparent.  The colors are bright and clear and mix well with each other and they all have a similar intensity which gives the painting a contemporary look.

All the Stars int the Universe, Watercolor, 9" x 12", © 2014

Pamela Atkinson, “All the Stars int the Universe”, Watercolor, 9″ x 12″, © 2015,  Print available in Pamela’s Etsy shop.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the other QOR colors. I like the clean, bright quality of the paint. But I need to remember, that I don’t need any more paint!  

What’s your favorite paint?  Have you tried QOR?  What do you think?

What Gets Your Creativity Flowing?

Moon Moss Season Set

Pamela Atkinson, Set of “Moon Moss” prints, digital prints of original watercolors, each image measures 7″ x 9″. Original watercolors and prints available in Pamela’s Etsy shop.

What gets your creativity flowing? For me, it might be the weather. I’m a California girl by choice, not birth. Originally from Illinois, I came here after hearing talk of not one more snowy winter! My parents had had it! Since I was a child, I had no say in the matter and off we went to sunnier climes. But I’ve always felt the loss of the seasons; flowers blooming, leaves falling, and even the snow (or the romantic idea of snow).  A feeling that the passage of time means something more than people changing the strings of holiday lights around their houses from pumpkins to icicles. Now, in the ever sunny and hot environment in which we live, I long for a change that doesn’t come.  Yes, it gets cooler but not cool enough. And so, every year, I strain to feel the crispness of autumn in the air and watch for the pattern of the light to change. It signifies for me a chance to dig deeper into myself and create.

What sparks or inhibits your creative output? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Creativity Versus Formula

Aiden, is in the 7th grade and created this unique silhouette portrait.

Aiden, is in the 7th grade and created this unique silhouette portrait.

Gavin, a 5th grader incorporated his interests in building and Legos into his background.  By personalizing his portrait he adds interest and meaning to the final design.

Gavin, a 5th grader incorporated his interests in building and Legos into his background. Personalizing his portrait  adds interest and meaning to the final design.

Discovery and growth are an important part of the art making process. I want my young students to use their imaginations and develop good visual problem solving strategies. One of my strengths is being able to analyze and make suggestions that can enhance a painting or drawing while helping a student to see more deeply and evaluate their own work.

Technique is important, but it usually develops with time and experience.  I find I need to repeat specific techniques or principles several times to get people to try something new. One of my adult students told me it took her hearing and seeing a new concept three times before she began to incorporate this knowledge into her own work. I don’t know if this is the case for all, but my observations tell me it’s true.

Skye is six and  has developed an unusual  brushstroke technique.  She puts a brush in both hands and dips each in a different color.  She  is able to blend and layer the pigments using her unique physical abilities to amazing results.

Skye is six and has developed an unusual brushstroke technique. She puts a brush in both hands and dips each in a different color. She is able to blend and layer the pigments using her unique physical abilities to amazing results.

Today, I wanted the kids to layer tempera paint so that the first color applied shines through the subsequent layers of pigment. It’s a tough concept but its fun to work on mixing the paint on the paper and not on a palette, and the results are a more complex color story. It saddened me to see that several of the paintings had a formulaic background. I don’t teach to a recipe, so they learned this elsewhere.  These paintings lacked spontaneity and personal style. I like to look at a student’s work and know who the painter is without looking at the name. The children are all unique personalities and that should come through in their choice of color, their brushstrokes, and even in what they leave out of the finished work. It’s a lot easier to have students follow directions and make a painting that looks just like the example, but what are they really learning?

To view more of my student’s work, visit http://creativekidshavefun.com.

Excavation

I’ve never met a creative person who isn’t a bit of a pack rat and I’m no exception! For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reliving my creative past; in other words, I’ve been cleaning out closets. Excavating, evaluating, and marveling at the amount of stuff I have accumulated. I knew I’d been saving things in case I needed them but some of the things I found were long forgotten and sometimes, even now, impossible to part with; like the scrapbook of ideas I made when I was 20. I don’t recall making it but it is so me that it’s surprising; the person I am now and the person I was aren’t that much different. I went so far as to put the book on the throw away pile but I had second thoughts and it’s nestled on the top shelf of the closet destined to be found again sometime in the future. A sweet reminder of my youthful style.

Pam and work 1985

Thank you Janice Mercure, you took this picture of me (Pamela Atkinson) and one of my handmade paper reliefs a long time ago and it was one of the things I was happy to find.

Over the years, my artwork has gone through changes and the supplies I unearthed reflected my interests and preoccupations. I found the best work I made in college and photo’s of artwork I’ve sold. These things will stay but I’ve been ruthless and only the treasures I’ll be happy to find in the future are packed away.  My twenty year old silk screen inks are at the toxic waste disposal.

Reflecting on how my style has changed and being able to look back on what was happening in my life when I created the work is a bonus.  Finding the elements that tie my diverse body of work together is fun and not surprising.  I started out as a painter and became a fiber artist, who became a paper maker,  who went back to painting.  I want to always be a painter.  I feel fulfilled using a brush and pigments.  My stint as a fiber artist in college had more to do with a supportive professor and a hospitable creative environment.  A good teacher can make a big difference in a artist’s life.

The ideas I want to express have changed overtime but the core thoughts are ever-present.  A curiosity about the unknown, the spiritual, femininity and strength are as important in my work now as they were in the beginning.

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear if time has changed your artwork or not.

 

 

Tribute

It is with great sadness that I write this post, one of my painting students passed away last week.

About twelve years ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted to come to my watercolor/acrylic painting class and paint with oils. I said no. I explained that I hadn’t used oil paints since high school and wouldn’t be able to help her. She came anyway! And boy am I glad she did! If she’d listened to me I would have missed meeting a generous, thoughtful, sensitive woman, who spoke her mind without apology.

Classes come and go, and I was no longer teaching adults when I got another call. Could I come and work with a small group in her home studio? Of course I said yes, and three years ago I began what her son called “Tuesdays with Laurie.” Laurie referred to the group as the “Golden Girls,” three unforgettable women, all with different painting styles, and all dedicated to supporting each others efforts.

Laurie painted places she had visited and cared about; pictures with meaning and memories. She appeared to have no angst or fear about starting a new painting and worked to make each canvas the best it could be, even reworking paintings she had done in the past to get them just right. She was always on the look out for inspiration and loved the look of laundry hanging on a line.

When you work with people over a period of time you get to know them; where they grew up, the places they’ve lived, the people they love, and how they feel about life. I’m lucky to have gotten to know Laurie. She was irrepressible. I will always remember her joy, laughter, and curiosity.  Laurie Chamberlain, you will be missed and I will remember all you taught me!

Blank White Space

Watercolor, work in progress. © 2015 by Pamela Atkinson

I’ve been busy finishing one of my acrylic paintings. It forms the second half of a diptych and together the two canvases make a strong and complex statement. Now, I’m faced with starting my next work and it needs equal care and consideration. I must put aside any fear I have of the blank white space before me, plunge in, and trust that I will make good decisions about color, form, and composition. These things usually take care of themselves, but the white canvas is daunting.

Making art is a mind game, it take courage to continue. I cope with the fear of creating by working on more than one painting and in more than one medium at a time.  For me, working on a watercolor and switching  to acrylic painting allows me to use all my skills and techniques.  For a couple of years, I gave up painting on paper and I missed it. I love the freedom of mixing the pigments on paper and trying colors to see how they combine. If a mishap occurs and the colors looks muddy or jarring, quickly lifting up the paint to get back to  a white surface is a challenge I enjoy.    With Acrylics I can white out something I don’t like and start again. The discoveries I make about myself, my thoughts, and the materials are worth any momentary discomfort.

Do you have any fears about creating? If so, please share them. All my years of painting and teaching tell me you are not alone.