Thursday, February 24, 2011

Studio Notes

I found this interesting article - notes from a talk with a conservator. I have no idea how old it is, nor confirmed all the info - so there's my disclaimer. But this part was of particular interest and I wanted to share:


As mentioned earlier, damar varnish can be difficult to remove from a painting without damage when aged for a long period. This becomes especially true when large amounts of damar have been used in the painting itself.

For safety sake, if one wishes to use damar in one's medium, then a synthetic varnish is advisable. Catherine highly recommended Gamblin's "Gamar" varnish. Other synthetics may still crosslink with the paint film underneath. But Gamar is a hydrocarbon based varnish that does not crosslink and removes easily with mineral spirits (which do not dissolve damar). Also, it does not yellow or crack.

Another benefit is that Gamar is flexible enough to be applied as soon as the painting is dry to the touch, instead of waiting 6 to 12 months. This means that artists can apply a full final varnish before rushing paintings out the door to galleries. Catherine says that no varnish seals out air from a painting, and that immediate varnishing will not hinder oxidation of the paint layers beneath.

Gamar comes as crystal resin and solvent that must be mixed and dissolved by the artist by shaking hourly for 8 hours. This is due to it's limited shelf life. One container of Gamar will cover 80 square feet of surface area, so an artist may want to save up a group of works to varnish at once, or else mix smaller portions for use, since it should be used up within a month of mixing.

The gloss of Gamar is meant to be comparable to damar, but some say that it is shinier. To reduce gloss, add solvent (mineral spirits) or wax medium.

No resin protects against oxidation or atmospheric moisture. Its sole purposes are to protect against dirt and atmospheric pollution, and to even out the sheen of a painting, adding depth to color.

* I don't find a Gamar from Gamsol - they have GamVAR - so I think this is a typo on the author's part. Or they've renamed their product.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Studio News

First, let me tell you that I am swamped lately - going a little crazy with Destination Imagination (tournament this Sat.!) and GS cookie sales (ends Sunday!) not to mention getting work ready for a show at Russell Collection in Austin. (some I'm really proud of so far!)

When February is over, so are all my volunteer duties and can get back to work in earnest and actually focus a little bit on it. So, if you've written me, or commented, or asked for a painting, and I am "ignoring" you... please believe that I am just way over my head right now and I WILL respond (just not in a timely manner!)

Onto other things now!
Awesome Austin interior designer Robin Callan of Room Fu has posted a nice little feature on my work on her blog. I can't wait to share the new work for the Best of Texas show! But there is still more to do and I will wait until the week of the show I think.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weather Beaten

14x18 oil on linen

This is an oldie but goodie. I don't know why it hasn't found a home, except that its been in my studio for almost 2 years. I personally love it and am proud of it. Anyway - today I submitted it to the Oil Painters of America and maybe they will accept it in their 20th annual national exhibition. The audience in Coeur d'Alene, ID should be right for it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moses Botkin Monthly Challenge

Always Untied
6x6 oil on panel
email me if you want this little painting

This month posed a little challenge for me, but I finally conquered CONVERSE shoes! None of my neighbors had any and it took me awhile to track some down without having to buy a pair myself. However, after seeing all the cute styles when I looked online, I kinda want a pair now. Wonder how comfortable they are? Anyway - I love the paintings this month. Very fun and creative.

Well Worn
5x7 oil on hardboard
©2011 Diana Moses Botkin

Big Red
24x24 oil on canvas
©2011 Suzanne Berry

Satin Chucks
9x12 oil on panel
©2011 Vicki Ross

Just Hanging Out
6x6 oil on hardboard
©2011 Sharman Owings

Converse Reds
6x6 oil on canvas
©2011 Ruth Andre

Friday, February 11, 2011


14x11 oil on canvas

This little scene is my donation for the Lutheran Social Services New Life benefit Feb. 26 in Austin. I donate a painting for their event every year. New Life is a treatment center and home for abused and neglected girls ages 11-17. Its a wonderful place of healing and growth for these girls and so very important. The theme this year is "All You Need Is Love" with a bit of Beatlemania going on. The Eggmen, a really talented Beatles tribute band, will be playing after a very fine catered dinner and the live auction. Its a fun night and I'm proud to offer something to help them reach their goals to support the girls at New Life Treatment Center. If you are local, you should get tickets and enjoy the fun!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Well Balanced Diet

12x12 oil on panel

I have no idea where I will send this yet.

Here is the painting I showed yesterday while being varnished. I'm currently stewing over how to paint a restaurant interior without so many dark colors. I did two others last week that just seem to dismal and dim. I will let you know what I come up with.

Q&A Time

I got a lot of questions about recent posts, so I thought I'd answer them here.

How long did you need to wait before you could varnish? Can you share ... what kind of varnish would you recommend?

I do not wait the recommended 6 mos. before varnishing. My paintings barely have time to dry before they are framed and sent to galleries. BUT, I paint kind of thinly, use zinc/titanium white, don't add medium and I live in Texas where there is almost no humidity in the air - indoor or out. Often my paintings are dry to the touch overnight (as is my palette... which is annoying.) I wait a week or so at least though and then test. If the color doesn't come off on the sponge, I varnish. I read something somewhere once that said it was ok. So I'm going with it. I apply it with a makeup sponge too. It goes on beautifully!
I use Synvar varnish. Its an acrylic resin and won't yellow with age. "It may be removed with mild solvents for subsequent cleaning and conservation of paintings." I wanna be sure that the conservators can clean my works later at the museum. ;-)

Do the people realize you are sketching them?

Sometimes. But most people are absorbed in their work, computers, books or conversation. A few might catch my eye and I might look elsewhere or just smile. Same thing when photographing. I take a lot of shots from the hip. And sometimes I act like a tourist and like I am aiming at some interesting object or feature, but really, the people are the element I am most interested in capturing. If well and truly busted, I just tell them that I am an artist and getting some reference material to work from. I've never had a negative encounter but I've seen one mom get mad at an artist friend for taking shots of her youngsters. So be careful about the privacy people might expect to have even in public places. I take very general shots of the whole place, not zoom in on one person.

Just curious is this from a photo ref and how were you able to take a photo of the kitchen?

This was in reference to the chef painting. Yes, it was from a photo. And this was one of those ideal times when I WAS a tourist - I figure in NYC they are used to gawkers wanting to document every aspect of their visit. The kitchen was open and I had a good view so walked over there and chatted with the chefs and took some pics. I LOVED their tall togues! Theory is that the taller the hat, the higher the rank of chef. These must be culinary geniuses! Or maybe its like the Texas saying - "the higher the hair, the closer to God."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I sat down to varnish today finally. I've had several paintings that need it, but its been so cold I couldn't do it outside. The house stinks now and I felt lightheaded all afternoon - jk! - but the work is ready to go to galleries now.

As I was varnishing this restaurant scene, I was struck by the difference it made in the colors. So I thought I'd share. The left side is varnished, the right is not. Its quite dull in comparison. When you thin your paint with OMS or some other solvent, you break down the oil - so the paint will dry duller. Since I paint a lot of fat over lean, my paintings can really vary from gloss to flat, so I like to varnish everything to bring the colors to life, create an even surface, and of course, protect the painting from dirt, dust, oils, smoke and other environmental hazards.

Coffee House Chatter

Notes from my sketchbook:
I sit here in Starbucks - very noisy if I let myself hear it. Funny that I can tune it out. But when I listen -
"Allison, I have your nonfat vente latte." A clatter of spoons.
"Excuse me," taking an unused chair. A woman's voice carries over the lower din of voices; papers snapping when turned; espresso machine runs with a hissing rumble, like steam from a train; a blender; and a call for Ralph to get his drink.
Lastly, as I pack up, "Miss, are you leaving?"
Miss!? Thank you! ;-)
Then out the door, "I have a grande Americano...." and into the cold of a February morning.

The sketch book I have been using since '09 is a Fabriano Artist's Journal. It has 12 different colored sections of Fabriano Ingres paper. I'm in the green section right now and it actually scanned a little lighter than it is. It and the red pages have been the hardest to sketch in. Color doesn't work. Chalk might! But even black ink doesn't show up very well. But I love the book - I am going to order another because I had to search awhile to find a link for it and I don't want to miss getting one if they are scarce. This is the one that I've carried everywhere, and its got stickers in it, family notes, sketches of my daughter at Tae kwon do, sketches from many airports and planes, travel notes, and endless coffee shops! Its just a good size to stick in your bag and fairly light with the soft cover.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Too Many Chefs

12x9 oil on panel

This was a fun painting. Thinking of warm cooking fires while we watch our little snow melt outside. School was canceled of course. Snow in central Texas paralyzes the city - my neighbors laughingly called it "snowmageddon." Keep in mind, it was maybe a quarter inch. But it was fun. And its cozy inside. Soon all will be business as usual.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Closer Look

16x16 oil on panel

This painting was accepted into the Salon International show in San Antonio. The show runs from April 1-22. I think this is my third year in a row to have work included. I submitted more than one entry, but never seem to get multiple pieces accepted. We're never satisfied are we? LOL

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Play Day

Today we had no power most of the day due to rolling blackouts. I hunkered down near a window for some light and painted a bunch of small sketches just for fun. I was experimenting and also trying to work up ideas for possible larger works. It was a lot of fun. I was pretty cut off from the world. Except for a cell phone, I had no means to waste time surfing the internet, emailing, etc.

So, here are some of the fun things I did today. I need more days like this!

Wow - I didn't realize I did so many! These are all 6x6 or 8x8 on loose linen (my scraps). Major, the dog, was painted from life as he was irresistibly cute cuddled up on my daughter's bed. Who can blame him - it was pretty cold for Austin! We're keeping our fingers crossed for some snow though.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...