Encaustic Painting

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When the binder for pigment is wax, it is known as encaustic painting. Encaustic painting was practiced by the Greeks as far back as the 5th century B.C. The encaustic technique was also used in the 19th Century to solve the problem of dampness faced by mural painters in northern climates. The 20th Century brought a major, renewed interest in this technique.

Wax is considered as durable as oil and tempera and, as an excellent preservative, was used by the Greeks to weatherproof ships.

Additional information can be found at encaustic.com.

Marc Kundmann, Window Over Commercial Street

Window Over Commercial Street by Marc Kundmann

encaustic, oil, and charcoal

Giclée Printing

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The giclée process uses environmentally safe, water-soluble dyes and works by translating a digitized original from any source into a high-speed stream of microscopic color droplets. Prints appear smooth and continuous in colors and tone because the original droplets are comparatively the size of a human red blood cell.The giclée process allows reproductions to be printed on a variety of surfaces such as premium archival watercolor paper. Giclée prints also allow the artist the versatility of controlling color relationships. The rich saturation of color is comparable to dye transfer and has a velvety surface reminiscent of either mezzotint or sheet-fed gravure.

NightAtTheLandHo

Night at the Land Ho!  by John Murphy

giclée on paper

Oil Painting

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Oil paints have been widely used since the fifteenth century and have become the standard for easel painting. The range of oil paints and surfaces available offer painters great flexibility for a variety of different techniques. This range of options continues to expand.

Oil paints can be used on a number of wood, Masonite, glass, paper, metal and canvas surfaces. Canvas is used most frequently. Cotton canvas is quite durable and the least expensive of the regularly used canvases. 

While some artists prefer linen over canvas for its texture and permanence, cotton, polyester and jute are all widely accepted surfaces.

 

Oil on Linen:
“ What makes linen so attractive to painters is its strength and its beauty... it never looks as mechanical or evenly woven as other fabrics.” — 
Bill Creevy
 
For more information, please consult The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Mayer (1985, Viking) and The Oil Painting Book by Bill Creevy (1994, Watson~Guptill Publications).

On the Edge

On The Edge by Marc Hanson
oil

 


Pastels

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Pastel is a dry medium in a stick form, consisting of powdered pigments held together with a minimal amount of a binder (usually gum tragacanth). Pigments used in making pastels are the same pigments that are ground for use in making oil and watercolor paints. Painting with pastels, therefore, is as close as one can get to painting with pure pigment.

Traditionally used in the 18th century for painting royal portraiture, the soft pastel medium can trace its roots back to prehistoric cave paintings. In and out of style in the last four centuries, pastels are now enjoying a modern-day resurgence of popularity, due to their intense colors, permanence and “immediate” handling.

Pastels are the most permanent artists’ medium, if properly created and protected. Pastels should be done on an archival surface which is free of acid, and should be framed under glass, preferably with a spacer between the glass and the surface of the painting. As the pigments are the same as those used in oil paintings, you should expect the same level of resistance to fading.

Caring for your pastel: You only need to know a few things about caring for your pastel.

  • When transporting, lay a pastel glass side up, never glass-side down!
  • When not hanging, store a pastel glass side up or upright, never glass-side down!
  • When shipping, leave the job to professionals, who know how to pack and ship pastels specifically. If uncertain of who to contact in your area for shipping, contact a local pastel association. Its members likely can supply you with a reputable, knowledgeable shipper in your area.
  • If reframing, be sure to leave a spacer between the pastel’s surface and the glass or mat. If a mat is used, use an acid-free mat. Plexiglass instead of glass is an option to lower weight and make shipping easier, but static generated by Plexiglass can be a problem.

Your pastel has been created and framed for maximum protection and permanence. It has been created on an acid-free and/or archival surface. The pastels used are the finest in light-fastness currently available on the market (equivalent to oils in light-fastness). It is currently framed with an acid free backing (and mat, if it has one). It is also framed with glass.

 

Sunset Across the Bay by Amy Sanders pastel 

Plein Air

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Plein air, French for “open air,” is used to describe paintings created outdoors. In Italian, the term would be alfesco. In the 1870s, the growth of plein air painting flourished with the introduction of paints in tubes. (Previously, painters made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigments with linseed oil.) French Impressionists, including Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Edouard Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, advocated en plein air painting. Charles Webster Hawthorne, who is attributed with starting the art colony in Provincetown, came to Cape Cod to teach painting en plein air.

Taken directly from nature, plein air works are infused with atmosphere and show the influence of changing natural light on color. Painting from life allows artists to absorb sight, sound, temperature and humidity, and then interpret these sensations into paintings.

At plein air events, adults and children alike are enthralled by seeing paintings move from sketches to finished works, and delighted to meet so many accomplished artists. Plein air events organized by the Addison Art Gallery have received national coverage and are considered some of the region's most intriguing cultural events.


“The plein air experience is valuable in many ways that may not be immediately apparent to an outside observer. All your senses are involved when you are personally experiencing a location first hand.

The eye perceives light and shadows most acutely from direct observation. Also, the world is meant to be seen in three dimensions. Nothing substitutes for being there. Painting from memory is a challenge, but you cannot possibly remember the nuances of reality. Photography flattens space and distorts perspective and color. It can be helpful in the studio, but is not a real substitute for direct observation.

The plein-air experience also provides the artist a chance to essentially live within the painting. For example, when painting by the seashore the artist experiences the sound of the waves and the gulls, feels the sun and the breeze, watches the tides change and the boats come and go. The painter exists within that space and is one with the environment. Ideally, all that sensory inspiration will filter through the artist’s hand and come together in the new reality of the painted canvas.” — Paul Schulenburg


“Collectors, fellow artists, and friends often comment on my work as having distinct and engaging “atmosphere”. I am so very appreciative of this recurring compliment. It is the air surrounding the landscape that I hope to depict in my paintings. The air is an unseen filter that guides how we visualize the things in front of us. In coastal New England, the atmosphere is always changing, therefore I am very fortunate to live and paint in such a visually engaging area.” — Jonathan McPhillips

Paul Schulenburg

Paul Schulenburg, plein air painter
 

Watercolor

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by Ann Trainor Dominingue

 

Watercolor has long been considered a very difficult medium to master. The freshness of brushstrokes as well as watery, seemingly uncontrolled effects are the hallmarks of this versatile medium. Curiously it still retains a lesser status among other painting mediums despite the difficulty factor. The affordability of watercolors can make it possible for a novice collector to step into the world of art collecting. Experienced and novice collectors will find real value in watercolors as they demonstrate an artist’s ability to draw, design, and work with color and texture as proficiently as in classic mediums such as oils. Watercolor painting styles vary greatly from delicate pastel color schemes to those that echo the masters such as Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth, to contemporary abstract styles.

Watercolor is composed of two key elements, first a gum arabic binder—a clear liquid that dissolves in water, and second, pigment—mineral-based or synthetic-based colors. Watercolor is available in a wide range of transparent or opaque paints. Paints come in tubes, cakes or pans, watercolor pencils or solid color sticks. Opaque watercolor or gouache (pronounced gwash) contains a chalk-like substance that will cover over transparent watercolors and are available in tubes or pans. Transparent and opaque watercolors can be combined to create a multitude of layered effects on paper or other synthetic surfaces such as Yupo paper—a polystyrene sheet. Improvements in paint quality have dramatically decreased the fading of watercolors due to ultraviolet light. New developments include an archival coating that offers UV protection from paint fading and allows watercolors to be displayed without glass or plexi.

Watercolor is primarily painted on paper prepared with sizing which gives the paper body and, depending on the brand, also provides a variety of distinctive absorption qualities. Paper qualities are a very personal decision for an artist. Paper is available in smooth (hot press—allows paintbrushes and watercolor to glide across the surface), cold-pressed (with texture—allows some of the pigment to settle into the crevices), and rough (with coarse texture—allows even more pigment to settle into the paper texture). High quality paper will stand various scraping and mark-making techniques.

Paintbrushes used for traditional watercolor techniques are primarily made of natural bristles—very soft so as not to scrape the paper surface. Combination bristles of synthetic and natural hairs are also a good choice. Sable brushes are historically a long-lasting choice although expensive.

Watercolor can be used to produce very detailed imagery as in the contemporary works of Andrew Wyeth, Charles Reid, Robert Wade and John Salminem, and historic artists such as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Constable in England—an early adopter of watercolor, John James Audubon an American—used watercolor to enhance engravings of flora and fauna, and John Singer Sargeant used watercolor for beautiful figurative works. Abstract watercolor styles are also very popular because of the free-flowing nature of this versatile medium.

EP_BeyondPleasant_sm

Alone Time by David Mesite
watercolor

Displaying Your Art

Home Is Where the Art Is

By Katherine Ernst
Photography by Ned Manter
and Walter Greeley 

The quintessential Cape Cod Home is set close to the water with large windows encouraging the sun and sea breezes to enter. Its residents love and collect art, yet are usually not inclined to construct in-home galleries that meet archival standards for preservation. Our art is part of our enjoyment of every day life and as such joins us in our home and work environments.

Displaying Your Art

The appropriate display of art is influenced by the work you wish to display, other objects in the space, the function and size of the space.

Walls, windows, even plants and pets need to be considered in planning the presentation. You may begin by studying books and periodicals covering the finer points of displaying art. You may have already started by moving an assortment of furniture, originals and "stuff" into the room and then commenced experimenting. Ready to hang your favorite oil right now?

The most commonly asked question is: How high should I hang my paintings? Paintings are most easily enjoyed when the centerline is set at eye level. Hanging art above eye level requires the eyes to look up, forcing the neck back and causing a subtle strain that becomes wearing over time. The eye level is determined by the height of people in your home and whether they will be standing or seated when viewing the art. 

Once the eye level is determined, measure the framed height of your painting. Divide by two. Add that number to the eye level and you know where the top of the frame is to be positioned. Now measure the distance from the top of the tensed wire to the top of the frame. Subtract that number from the point of the top of the frame and you have the height for your nail hole. Sounds a little fussy and complicated but it's not. For example, if the average eye level is 5 feet (60 inches), the framed painting is 20 inches in height, and the distance from the tensed wire to the top of the painting is 3 inches, your hanger should be placed 67 inches from the floor (60 + 10 - 3 = 67). Exceptions are made when art is placed above a high mantle or furniture.

Several pieces evenly spaced along an extended wall can be quite compelling. Groupings of art tend to have a more intimate feeling. Similar small works can become a focal point when hung  stacked above one another. Sculpture and plants enhance the viewer's involvement with a space. Three-dimensional art, inside or outside, can be placed to be admired from every angle and lit so that shadows become a part of the visual impact.
 
 “The placement of a painting and the amount of surrounding wall space greatly influence the way a painting is perceived. Large paintings deserve to be hung to allow one to approach as well as to take in from a distance,” say architects Alan Dodge and Joy Cuming of South Wellfleet.

Rules for displaying art are informative guidelines. You are the true judge of a beautiful display. If you love walking into your home and are continually drawn to your art, you've done a great job. 

home_bedroom

Lively paintings by Charles Sovek, Caribbean colors and Al Glover's entertaining sculptures make this sunny guest suite more than fun.

 

 

home_hall

This dramatic entrance draws the eye to Mystic Oysters, a highly-detailed egg  tempera by Garry Gilmartin. The lighting above the seating area allows emphasis on two works of art. The nook works well for the flowers and small painting currently displayed, as well as for tall, slender sculptures. Stepping into the corridor, one has an opportunity to study the row of Demarais paintings. The antique kilim rug adds warmth and continuity.

 

 

home_table

Protecting Your Collection

By Katherine Ernst
Photography by Ned Manter
and Walter Greeley

Now that we have considered placement, let's address the business of keeping your art safe and tidy. Homeowners are usually not inclined to construct in-home galleries that meet archival standards for preservation. Cape Cod homeowners can take precautions that will allow them to be continually inspired by their collections while preventing exposure to extremes in humidity, temperature and light. 

Blinds, curtains and specially-treated windows can block out ultraviolet rays that can fade pigments. Incandescent light causes less fading but its intense heat can cause burning.  Placing your art out of the range of the light pouring in your windows is a simple way to lessen the effects of harmful rays. If picture lights on individual paintings must be used, choose low-watt (25 or less) bulbs. Keep the light as far from the art as possible and turn the light on infrequently.

If you shut your home down for the winter and leave the heat off, your collection will be subject to drastic changes in temperature and humidity. In newer, well-sealed homes, a lack of circulation can encourage high humidity, increasing the risks of mold, fungus and mildew. Low humidity can cause cracking and shrinking. A total lack of light can alter pigments and promote mold growth on oil paintings.

Oil paintings are somewhat protected from the elements with a varnish coat applied by the artist. Prints, watercolors and pastels are framed under glass or Plexiglas to preserve the paper. Artists and framers have been aware of the importance of using only acid-free paper and mats for decades. Using archival materials when doing your own framing will prolong the life of your art.

It is strongly advised that cherished works of art be cleaned or restored only by experienced professionals. Regular dusting of frames should be done carefully with a clean, lint-free cloth. When cleaning glass, a damp cloth will prevent static electricity from drawing paper or pastel dust towards the glass. Never apply water or glass cleaner directly to the glass as it can run along the glass and onto the art. 

As diligent as you may be in caring for your collection, you will want to confer with your insurance  agent regarding unforeseen circumstances. Be sure to update your policy as the value of your collection increases.

The diagonal placement of the couch maximizes the views of activity within the open space as well as the exterior landscape. The two oil paintings by Arnold Demarais are cozily balanced by the plant. They are lit by hidden track lighting which can be adjusted to properly light a continually-changing display of paintings and sculptures. Thomas W. McCanna’s Garden Doves bring new personalities to the living room while Al Davis’ sea gull adds a touch of whimsy to the hearth.