Monday, January 26, 2009

Remember, Painting by Jim Trankina

The place where I live was once the home of a people known as the Shawnee. They have long since been removed to places other than the land which they and their ancestors inhabited for thousands of years. All that remains of them is a few arrow heads and artifacts throughout the river valleys, as well as the tribe's name on a few local institutions. As for the people and their culture, for the most part, there is virtually nothing left.

There is an empty field which once was the site of a Shawnee village, It is now just that, an empty field. I often pass by, and have a feeling of sadness as though there is something missing. Almost as if nature itself calls out for these people. They should be here, their culture should be something that everyone here should be able to experience. I should be able to go to a local restaurant and find a meal of traditional cuisine, prepared by those with the tradition. I probably should avoid pondering what should be.

This painting is coming along rather slow, and is being built up in layers. I still have a long way to go, but hope that it will be finished appropriately, one day soon.

Artist Materials

For those artists who wish to make their own paints, mediums, and varnishes, an excellent resources is Kremer Pigments.

This company sells an astonishing variety of rare and extremelly hard to find materials. If you make varnishes that are known to become brittle, where else could one find plasticizers such as gum elemi? Every purchase that I have ever made has arrived in timely manner, and packaged very well. Every product is also of the highest quality. Great prices as well!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I was looking at some of Van Gogh's sketches, and I saw one entitled "Sorrow." I believe that it was a sketch of his friend. I thought that I would sketch it, then realized that I just had to see what it would look like with color applied. This is more or less an oil sketch, done rather rough.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I found an antique frame in a second hand shop, and knew that I had to do a still life of roses. Just so happened that we had some wonderful rose bushes in the back yard, so I arranged some, with a silk backdrop, and started into it. This is a pencil drawing on gessoed wood, which was later fixed, and then painted in layers. The roses were painted in a monochrome, and then glazed with natural madder (The predecessor to alizarin). I picked up a tube of WN, and it worked very well. Very subtle color, yet highly chromatic. Apparently WN are the only folks who are able to make this particular color, so that it remains stable. It was known as a fugitive color.

The medium used throughout this painting was a mixture of concentrated damar varnish, and stand oil. I made the varnish myself, by dissolving damar into turpentine, and allowing it to reach it's saturation point. The oil is then heated and the damar varnish is combined. It is much easier to make than amber, yet has quite different effects.

This is an 18x24 oil on canvas, laid down on wood. I used amber varnish in the paint, and as a varnish layer. The paint was applied quite thick (impasto). I was thinking of the artist Sorolla, while painting this. He is one of my favorites. The image is of interest to me, as I have often stood on the edge of land, looking out at the vast expanse of sea. The wind is almost magic, the air pure.

Recently, I have been applying paint quickly, and much more thick. The brushes used for this piece were quite large, and that prevented me from getting overly detailed.

This painting is 11x14, oil on wood. The wood was treated with white shellac to prevent the oil from coming into contact with it. I then drew the image with charcoal, fixed it with clear shellac, sanded, and applied an umber layer. This created quite a dark image to start with, and really helped to judge values for establishing the lights. I used amber in the oil paint, and as a varnish. This baby was one of the most enjoyable paintings that I have ever completed.

This is an 11x14 oil painting on wood. I had a lot of fun doing this one. I used an essential oil, balsam, oil medium on this one. This was one past Venice turpentine, one part stand oil, and one part oil of spike. The medium allowed for a well blended effect, and allowed each brush stroke to fuse, and the surface to become more level. When dry, I varnished with a thin layer of amber varnish. I think I will apply one more.

Friday, January 16, 2009

From a few years ago:
This painting took quite some time, and was completed in layers. The medium is oil, with the addition of alkyd resin. Although alkyd resins do not appear to have the same light refraction as natural resins, they do work marvelously when building up layers. The support is wood, with a frame built around the image areas, then the paintings were completed. The frame was painted with a dark red ocher, and then gold leafed. The detailed areas of the frame are carved polymer clay. The support was gessoed, and an underdrawing was completed. This was fixed, and then tinted with red ocher. The darks were established, and an underpainting was completed. Next came many layers of paint and colored glazes. As a copy, I learned a lot. The vanishing points also reveal quite a mystery.

This is a practice copy. I find that copying old works helps to improve my own work. This started as a charcoal drawing, which was later fixed, and then tinted with a burnt umber wash. Then the paint was applied in progressive layers, with the highest value areas being the thickest. The red and blue areas (i.e. clothing) were transparent glazes over a monochrome underpainting (burnt umber/ultramarine blue as the dark, and titanium white as the lights. There is also no black in this painting. well, the umber/blue mix does make a black.

I am finding that I enjoy painting more direct than building up layers. Glazing does produce some special optical effects, however.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First Post

I will be posting images of my work soon, and descriptions of technique. For the most part, I work with oil paint, and combine this with various mediums, including varnishes made from Baltic amber, and hard copal. I make my own mediums from amber, copal, damar, and various resins such as Canada balsam, and Venice turpentine. My hope is that as this blog progresses, in addition to my work, I will be able to provide some useful information related to these mediums.

I am interested in the craft of painting. Therefore, in addition to the mediums that I make, I also like to stretch my own canvases, prepare my own panels, make my own easels, palettes, and frames, and have learned over the course of time to make my own paint, as well. For the most part however, I use commercial tube paint, and occasionally use commercial supports.

Thanks for looking, and please check back.