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Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Aerial Perspective, "Flores"

Since I love color and texture in my watercolor paintings, I often forget about aerial or atmospheric perspective.  I'm working on a painting where the city and water reflections will be bold in color; the water is intended to contain the focal point. I fear that using my normal very bold colors throughout the painting will end up causing the painting to lose focus, so I spent some time looking at work by Joseph Zbukvic and Thomas W. Schaller. They are experts at soft muted paintings. I felt following their example might keep me from losing aerial perspective in this painting.  I remember, when I first took watercolor classes, being told my paintings needed more aerial perspective.  My struggle with this has continued for years in many of my landscapes.  I get so wrapped up and excited by the color that - before I know it-  things that are supposed to be in the distance have too much color to appear distant.

To help me control this tendency I printed segments of Zbukvic's paintings.  I will keep these printouts by my side as I paint and hope they will remind me of my goal.   The picture in this blog is a small segment of the painting of the furthest back building and hills.  I think I'm heading in the right direction.  

Many people just add blues in the distant areas.  I wanted more variety in my painting so in addition to using more blues in the hills I added lavender and just a hint of a golden glow.  In fact I put down the golden glow first so some brightness still showed through the haze.  Lots of water provided the look of fog.  At this point it looks very dreamy as if fairies could fly out of the trees and dance across the sky.  I hope I can maintain this appearance as the painting progresses.

I'll post updates as the painting develops.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's in a brush?

I have a fairly standard set of brushes that I use in most paintings, but my tried and true synthetic brush that I use for lifting paint was beginning to show its age; it had lost its point and just wasn't right for my needs.  Since Nicholas Simmons had just announced his new signature brush collection through Escoda Brushes,  I decided to buy two of them to give them a try.  Previously I had visited the Escoda website to learn about their history and brush making techniques.   I purchased the Nicholas Simmons Series 2 set which contains:

  • BARROCO Series 1410 Round Pointe #16

  • BARROCO Series 2336 Mottler Single Thickness #18 (about 1.5" flat)

Often I don't like synthetic brushes because they don't hold enough water, but these Barroco brushes were very thirsty, holding a lot of pigment.  I love the round, using it instead of a Kolinsky round I have used for years.  The point is great, the tip springy, and the volume of pigment it holds is fantastic.

I recently finished a painting of a village in Flores, Guatemala and found the flat was great for working on the buildings.  Again it held a lot of pigment allowing me to pull the colors throughout the painting and the square edge stayed firm giving me crisp edges where I needed them.  I augmented these 2 brushes with a 3/4" Kolinsky flat that I have loved for years.  I can use it to quickly brush the surface when I want to remove a little water without moving around the color.  It was the only other brush I have used in the paintings I've done since the Escoda brushes arrived.   By the way, neither will be used for lifting paint, these brushes are too wonderful for that.

Nick - Thanks for the great brush collection.  I suspect Series 1 can't be too far off in my future.

Also see Konstantin Sterkhov's interview of Nick which includes his thoughts on Escoda brushes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Protect Your Art During Shipping

I recently found out my painting "Department Store" was accepted into the 31st Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors.  Since I live in the Baltimore-Washington area and the exhibition is in Old Forge, NY I have to ship my art out of state for the first time.  When you ship your art you want it to arrive safe and sound at your customer’s location or at the gallery.  You have invested yourself into your art and you want others to enjoy it, so you want to make sure that can happen. So I asked some friends their experience and recommendations for shipping to exhibitions and I spoke to my insurance provider about insurance during transit.  Here is the process I plan to follow.  If you have anything to add, please comment on this blog.

Every care must be taken to ensure the art is properly packed.  Since accidents can happen during shipping you also want to have documentation to ensure you get reimbursed if it gets damaged in shipping.  You’ve paid for shipping insurance, so you need documentation to ensure you can prove you properly packaged your art.  You also don't want your packing materials misplaced at the destination so the art is properly packed at the end of the exhibition.  Here are the steps I will use when shipping framed art.
  1. Make sure your art is clean and ready to ship (properly labeled, your bio on the back of the painting with a summary of your inspiration for the buyer).
  2. Photograph the art (have the date turned on in your camera so you can prove it was immediately before shipping).       One shot of the full painting and frameb.      One close up of each corner showing a segment of the art with a 2nd close-up of each corner showing the frame corner is free of mars or dents (show a little of the painting so it can be correlated with the artwork).
  3. Prepare the foam insert so your art fits snugly.
  4.  Label all packing materials with your name so none of the packing foam gets lost by the gallery or handling agent.
  5. Photograph the outside of the box to show the condition of the shipping container on the outside.
  6. Place your art in the shipping container and photograph it with the cover open to show the painting is secure within the box (insurance won’t cover your art if they can claim the art was not securely packaged.).
  7. Place a copy of shipping address labels inside your package in case the outside gets damaged.  This will allow the carrier to still deliver the art.
  8. Take art to the shipper without taping the box if you need to insert return shipping labels in the package.  
  9. After inserting the return shipping labels, take another photograph of the inside of the open box at the shipping company as one final proof of the condition of your packaging immediately prior to shipping.
  10. Close and tape the box and photograph one last time to show the final condition of the box.
My friend, Janet Belich, posted a blog on the boxes she makes for shipping her art.  See it here

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tips for Balancing Art and Life

A friend and I were talking the other day about how I manage to paint regularly.  She asked about my painting schedule.  I told her I generally try to paint first thing after breakfast and work until lunch.  I take off a couple hours to eat, check email, and often do a little art business.  If I don't have other errands to run then I paint more in the afternoon.  I stop no later than 6 pm since I prefer to paint when there is natural light.  When I find the number of painting hours start to shrink I try to remind myself what Chen-Khee Chee suggested when I took a workshop from him some years ago; he said he starts painting each day at 8am and puts in a full day.  I’m not sure how he is able to prioritize his art over everything else, but I admire that he can and know I am a much happier person when I can paint a full day.

Takes More than Walking
After I gave this answer my friend asked, but when do you exercise, clean, shop?  I told her I try to restrict chores to weekends; I find exercise to be the hard part.  Ideally, I go for a walk during my lunch time break.  Sometimes I do stretching and some core strengthening exercises first thing after I getup.  Sometimes I do arm exercises with weights after I stop painting for the day and before dinner.   Unfortunately, I am not very consistent about any of these and, as a result, don’t really get enough exercise.  In fact I wear an arm band by Body Media that monitors my activity each day.  I can compare the calories I burn with the calories I consume in an attempt to balance and maintain my weight.  The answer is not what I’d like most weeks. 

I started wondering what others do to manage life and painting.  I hope you will share your ideas.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Soul of a Portrait

Pigeons In His Genes

Eye Detail
When I paint portraits my goal is to capture the subjects doing something they love.  In this case interacting with animals.  Often I find the subjects' eyes are crucial to expressing their emotions.  The inset above is a closeup of his eye in "Pigeons In His Genes".  His love of animals is communicated through that expression.

Visit my website at to view other figurative paintings.

Interested in learning more about April's art inspirations, tips about her painting process, or art business tidbits? Want to know when her art is in exhibits? Consider joining her friends and collectors by signing up for her twice-monthly email.

Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

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