Friday, December 25, 2009

Family time

These three were supposed to be in a set of four - some of my near relatives.
I only managed to paint three out of four so far. These are painted on A3-sized plywood, which I bought in the building supplies store, and painted both sides with white.
Even though I painted both sides, some of the five sheets I bought did warp a bit, and none of them stayed really flat.

It was interesting dealing with the third, the painting was intended to be of
my niece, but depending on what errors I made in composing the face, the
image flipped between being of the niece, or her mother. I guess they look
a bit alike. The end result is that the painting looks like neither of them, but clearly the features are recognizable as those of either of them.

Anyhow, here they are.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Last session for the season

The drawing class has come to a close, with only a few images.
The two chalk drawings were sort of 'warm-up' for the two acrylic
paintings. The model is impossibly proportioned, I am not making
anything up. Reducing muscle mass, if anything.

The drawings were made in about ten minutes apiece.

Chalk on paper, ca. 70 x 50 cm

Chalk on paper, ca. 70 x 50 cm

The acrylic paintings are somewhat weird, I had brought only three
primary colors plus white, and started mixing, aiming for a skin
color. The result is somewhat purplish, and the effect is 'modern'.

Interesting, though (to me, at least), is that I bought Winsor & Newton
'System 3' colors, and they are very intense, so I used much less paint,
and they didn't dry out so quickly on the palette as some other paints do.
In short: I liked these. I guess the name 'System 3' also appeals to the nerd in me.

Acrylics on canvas, approx. 80 x 50 cm

Last painting in 2009:

The last one was done in a few minutes, just a draft, really, as anyone
can see. Again, I had mixed some strange colors, that don't fit, neither
subject nor background. But the proportions could be worse.

Acrylics on canvas, approx. 80 x 50 cm

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St George rides again

I can't imagine why anyone would go hunting for dragons or other wild animals in the nude, but here's a depiction of Saint George, who killed the original dragon outside the shores of Beirut. I am upset with the usurious licensing practices of the software shark Oracle, and that shows, I guess.

This is acrylics on linen, ca 70 x 80 cm, not complete yet. I think both the background and the foreground need a little work...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday the thirteenth

This time, a couple of paintings on canvas, approx. 50 x 80 cm, acrylic paint.
Probably around an hour on the first, the second in half an hour.

I didn't bring a sensible set of colors to the session, and spent too much time
messing about, mixing and remixing. Next time, I am supposed to bring
only three colors.

Guy Fawkes day

Some more chalk sketches, all on gray paper, ca 50 x 70 cm.

The first three were done in 5 minutes each (on purpose!). The two at the end took some 20 minutes apiece. Red and white chalk.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Drawing course III - body parts or details

The instructor got tired of the classical poses, I guess, so now we did a few body parts in isolation;
the paper is the same light brown/gray pastel paper, approx. 50 x 70 cm size; chalk.

Drawing course II

Michaela the instructor convinced me to try Rötel, i.e. the red earth chalk, on colored paper.

The ones below were drawn with pencil-like sticks, some with the chalk in the form of square sticks, as very dry pastels. All of this needed to be fixed with aerosol fixative. The images below are from two sessions, the model would normally stay still in each pose for about 15 minutes. The earliest attempts first, then more recent ones. The paper is light brown/gray, and fits the chalk colors nicely. I used white chalk for highlights, as is customary. First, I mixed the various chalk colors, then realized this was no good, and went against tradition. All the drawings are made on the same type of pastel-paper, maybe 70 x 50 cm in size.

New drawing course

I'm now taking a drawing course at the Kummer art store ( ), where the instructor is one Michaela Ghisetti, a professional artist.

First, I tried to paint with acrylics on paper, the sessions were about 25 minutes per pose. Most of this batch went in the can, but there were two I thought weren't as bad as the rest:

Both are about 70 x 60 cm, on glossy paper with a little surface texture. The paper is white, despite how it turns out here. The photos were made in late afternoon, on the shady side of the house, I guess that was a mistake.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Acrylic painting course, KunstFabrik Wien, Sept. 2009

Last weekend, I took a three-day course in acrylic painting, with focus on portraiture at the KunstFabrik Wien (same place as last year; see: ). The teacher this time was one Bogdan Pascu, more about him here: ).

As usual, the photographs add some problems of their own; this time, it is glare, which comes from the camera flash reflection. The paintings have a little more color to them, honest!

Here is a photo from the course, with me and my friend, Ivan the Terrible, Jr.

I managed four large portraits, of unknown people, from photographs, of which two were small photos from a newspaper article.

All paintings are acrylics, on cardboard, approx. 105 x 75 cm.

This painting started out as a misunderstanding; I thought I was to mimic Freud's painting style, but the instructor wanted me to apply some theory to the composition, so the outcome is not too great in either perspective.

This character got in the news because of a misunderstanding over a credit-card charge of 32.580 Euro. Hopefully this is all settled by now. He is a famous actor in the "Deutschspraechisches Raum".

This ugly bugger is a member of some military or other, though I couldn't say which. Probably doesn't matter.

And, finally, I don't remember the name of this chap, but he is a writer, interviewed in a french newspaper (couldn't tell why).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Last Word on this picture

I got my acrylics the other day, and since this chap had a birthday recently, I thought I would continue until I had a portrait. This is done on paper, approx. 42 x 56 cm. The background is made up. I feel I must make that clear.

The photo was taken in the evening, the sun was sinking behind Kahlenberg, and the photo is warmer (more red/yellow) than the painting is. Strange how a photo will immediately show all the faults and flaws in a painting, where the naked eye, in front of the original, will be more forgiving.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pencil drawing, of an old friend

I drew this, while listening to the radio this morning. I was wondering whether to apply any color to it, but liquids are not applicable, this is regular sketching paper, which doesn't take paints well. As always, the photo was a gray blur, and my attempts to make the image visible, via Gimp, have taken the nuances out, and increased the contrasts, to the detriment of the image.

One may disagree on whether the colored version is better. But at least, I got myself a reason to go out to Boesner once again and get some colored pencils ( "Progresso" from Koh-i-Noor.

pencil, 20 x 30 cm; Koh-i-noor Progresso color sticks

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Watercolor portrait in lieu of a real one...

While living out of a suitcase, I have just been drawing a few portraits from photographs, and tried to make one with watercolors (a very small box).
It is a different technique, which -as is evident- I have not mastered at all.

(And, for some reason, the face looks a bit longer in the scan/display
than it does on paper. It doesn't look like the model anymore. )

Watercolor, A4 size

Sunday, June 21, 2009


During the upheaval of moving to mainland Europe
I have not been able to do any painting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Cat-Pooper

My sister renovated her WC the other day and needed a suitable painting on a wall in there, to entertain visitors.

I thought this would be a suitable, and not too offensive, subject. It's been a while since I last saw a serving of catshit, since I was digging around in a sandbox, nearly 50 years ago. So I had to paint this by description. Think of poor Hokusai carving woodblock prints of elephants, never having seen such an animal.

Acrylics, on handmade paper, approx. 20 x 30 cm

In a kitchen frame of mind

I found a few fine photos on the internet of kitchen-related items, that I wanted to try on my handmade paper. These are small paintings, on approximately A4-size paper. The paper does swell up with the wet paint, and becomes uneven. This is clearly visible in the pictures below, at the foot of the salt shaker, for instance. This, with the uneven edges, could be said to add to the charm of the picture....

Acrylics on handmade paper, approx. 20 x 30 cm

Kitchen scenes

I bought a "wet-palette" ie. a plastic box with a wet sponge in the bottom, and a semi-permeable layer on top.
This is supposed to keep acrylic paint from drying out while one uses it, the most annoying 'feature' of acrylic paint, in my estimation. The palette works great, the paint is usable for a day, at least, maybe more. [ Update: a week later, the paint is still usable, and not diluted. This box is a fantastic addition to the acrylics toolkit. ]

Here are two aubergines, painted in excitement over the new wet-palette box.

Acrylic, on professionally made paper, about 25 x 25 cm

Coffee, anyone?

I've made a few small paintings to test my handmade paper; here are three coffee cups I painted yesterday. In two cases, I treated the paper with a diluted gel medium, which I let dry out before painting on it. This made the paper easier to paint on.

Acrylics, on handmade paper, approx. 20 by 30 cm

Friday, April 10, 2009


This morning, inspired by the many painters that suffer inclement climate conditions for their art, we went for a short drive, intending to do magnificent nature studies. The mountain in the background is called Helgafell, and is in the vicinity of the township of Hafnarfjörður. We have been up the mountain, hiking with friends. It was a bit chilly this morning, and not very inviting, so the result is only this one image, and a half-finished one at that.

Acrylics on watercolor paper, ca 20 by 30 cm.

The Tax Collector II

Tax season is just past, and I had some image of the prototype tax collector in my head, that I needed to get out.

Here he is, the bugger.

The first version of this picture had a flesh-toned shirt, which was a poor choice of color. While it might be a suitable shirt color for a government tax collector, it made the picture even more bland than it is now. The current, reddish, color of shirt might be more like one that a wife had purchased, but it livens up the picture a bit.

This "portrait" is artificial, that is, painted from scratch without a model. The face, etc. are created out of nothing but standard measures of average heads and faces. Hence this looks like noone I know, and isn't supposed to.

Acrylics on watercolor paper, ca 56 by 76 cm.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Die Braumeisters

While doing 'research' for an evening out with my friend Þórður, I came upon a photo of some Czech brewers, presumably testing the Pilsner Prazdroj, before letting it loose. I found the photo to be so appetizing I wanted to see if I could make a proper painting out of it, with some consideration to the position of light, etc. This is the result, from my weekend. Not quite Vermeer, but some effect of the position of the light sources can be seen. Of course, drawing the photo from the computer screen, some distortion has taken place, both on purpose and by accident. There are fewer people present, less space, the poor chaps look less human...

Acrylics on aquarell paper, ca. 56 x 76 cm.

(Incidentally, this Hahnemuehle watercolour-paper is not very pleasant to use with acrylics; it has too much 'bite' and a lot of time needs to be spent filling 'holes' to get a smooth surface. Perhaps I should have prepared it with some base layer before painting on it. It is probably superb for actual watercolour use.

(Note: the diagonal streaks visible in the larger version (click on the image) are caused by me trying to color balance the digital image. They are not in the original painting.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yet more papermaking

Just to finish the issue, the smaller business-card size papers are made in much the same way as the larger ones, but with a smaller grid/mesh (see last posting). In this photo, you can see the still wet papers drying on a cotton sheet, and a stack of dry ones, which I have peeled off a separate sheet.

I have inherited a press one of my relatives made, and it just fits the purpose of keeping the little sheets nice and flat, once they are dry enough.

More papermaking

I have gradually been discovering the problems of papermaking. The most significant step forward was the purchase of some synthetic felt material, which seems to be just right for the process. Before finding those, I used various strengths of cotton sheets, but the paper tends to stick to those, and they retain the water much more.

I have two "product lines" going: on the one hand, a sheet of around A4-size, and on the other, a small card, about the size of a business card. Here are the frames I use for those. The larger is put together from a 1x1" piece of wood and a wire mesh, the other from the same wire mesh, and a wire hanger (sewn together with some dental floss).

(The bucket underneath holds some newsprint paper being soaked, before pulping.)

I scoop some paper pulp out of the bucket, with the mesh frame, trying to make it distribute evenly on the mesh before I lift it out of the water. Let it drip dry, and flop it onto a sheet of felt. I sponge off most of the water, from the back of the mesh, before lifting it off the felt. This makes it easier to lift the mesh off, without the paper pulp sticking to it. The felt sheets can be stacked, each with their sheet of paper to be, and put under pressure, to squeeze some more water out of them.

After a while, I hang the sheets on a line, to dry. I don't know how to make sure the sheets dry properly without becoming uneven and twisted. In the background, you can see my family coat of arms, complete with penguin and hamster.

If I catch the sheets to early, and put them under pressure, they won't dry properly; if I wait till they dry, it is not easy to get them flat. Here I apply the old dictionary method.

A close-up of the "Coat of Arms":