Drool on the Frog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Electrical Tape

Up one of the legs I had this idea to do candy cane stripes. I was going to do one in OLA green and one red. But how am I going to get these stripes mapped out on the leg?

Electrical tape on the log
I pulled out some electrical tape my friend Erin sent me for some collage fun. This worked pretty good. It stretched, turned and pulled up easily. I wasn't worried about getting the lines exact but I wanted to make sure that the idea of "candy cane" was conveyed. After I got the tape where I wanted, I marked it with my soft charcoal pencil. Not bad. But now I'm questioning the whole idea of the stripes. For some reason they just hit me wrong. Hmm?

I don't know how far other artists have gotten but I'm noticing a couple of challenges.

SAM on my drafting table
SAM is standing up on my old drafting table. This is almost a perfect height. I can work sitting in my desk chair or standing. At other times, I lay him on his side. Even though there are towels covering the table, SAM is getting nicked! While I'm drawing, I'll rotate SAM around. The towel helps me do the rotatiing but then it will expose the edges of the table. The next time I rotate, his ear or leg will catch the edge of the table and scratch my nice iridescent finish. More towels?

plan for upside down dogI started by painting down one side of the torso and then moved to each leg. Boy, are these challenging! I don't know whether to work with the dog upside down or me! I haven't come up with a safe, stable way yet to work with SAM upside down. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. My Geek suggested a large box full of bubble wrap. A good idea but I don't have a box so I haven't tested this out. My friend Sue suggested pillows. They might work in the box if I covered them with bubble wrap.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Paint Brushes

BrushesAfter my first paint session I knew something very clearly. My brushes were too big! Here's another lesson I'm learning due to my inexperience.

The brushes I got at Mona Lisa are very nice. I got Silver Ruby Satin and W&N Galeria. I got a variety: round for detail work, flat for filling in large areas and filbert for all those curves. My design consists of a huge variety of hearts of varying sizes and shapes. I started with one of the three largest.

I kept thinking, big project, big tools. Very few of the hearts are completely solid, though, so I will never need large brushes for filling in large areas. I need brushes for drawing lots of lines.

I was able to return the two largest brushes and bought eight smaller ones ranging from 2 - 6 in flat and filbert. I bought some cheaper brushes, Royal soft grip, with shorter handles so that I would have more options.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006


Sketching my design on SAMI'm grabbing moments here and there to at least sketch my design on SAM, even if I don't have time to paint. My Geek is improving but he is still weak. Those of you other poor souls who have been hit by the flu this season know that it takes WEEKS to recover from. My goal now is to not come down with it myself.

Sketching my design on SAMSketching with the soft grey charcoal pencil is still working well. I can rub it off with my hand or a dry towel. You can still see faint marks from this, though. If I really need to "erase" and start over, I use a wet towel and let it dry thoroughly. That gets rid of it almost completely.

I don't know if any of the rest of you are experiencing difficulties translating your design from 2D to 3D. My design is unique over every inch - there is no repeats in the pattern. So there are areas - inside the legs, on the belly, top of the head, down the back - that don't have a completed design. I even find myself looking at my original design for the legs and wondering, "Now what was I thinking when I did this?" Sometimes I'm just wondering, in general, "What was I thinking!?"

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Flu & Birthdays

I've been a little lax lately with my posts. Our household got hit with the flu and it's turned things upside down.

First, it hit at the time of My Geek's birthday. As a result, his celebration has been spread out. He got presents on his actual birthday - I thought maybe it would cheer him up. But he didn't get his chocolate cake until almost two weeks later. But, better choco-late than never, I say.

Second, my work on SAM has been stalled! This is making me somewhat of a nervous wreck. I will cut back on posting, if necessary, because the priority is to get SAM done by April 1. I know my throngs of readers are all very disappointed. I appreciate the enthusiasm, from both of you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sketching Implements

Stabilo All Purpose pencilEvery step I take in this project is new territory for me simply because I have worked so little with acrylics. My next step was to sketch a portion of my design on the form which has 2 coats of iridescent acrylic on it.

I thought the plastic base of acrylics would make graphite sit right on top of it, so much so, that it would wipe right off with the heal of my hand. I thought it would be so temporary that I couldn't sketch any more than I was actually able to paint in the same day. Again, I'm wrong. I drew a 2 inch line with a 2B woodless pencil and wiped. Still there. Then I erased. It was mostly gone but I could still see it! The base coat is not glass smooth but finely textured. The grooves are holding on to the graphite. Well, this isn't going to work.

Next I tried the "dreamy" Stabilo All purpose Aquarellable pencils I bought at Mona Lisa. Pretty much the same problem. They rubbed off really well from a plastic storage container but the surface finish of SAM was too coarse.

Swan Carb-Othello pastel pencilThis made me realize something new. This base coat of iridescent white is suppose to show through the "holes" of my design. So whatever I use to sketch with has to come off completely or be covered with the design. If not, it'll ruin my crisp, white base and touch ups won't be pretty or fun to do.

O.k. Something softer. Something softer. I found an old Swan Carb-Othello light grey pastel pencil. It did exactly what I had expected the graphite pencil to do: it sketched lightly on the surface and rubbed off with the heal of my hand. If I applied too much pressure, it would leave pastel in the grooves but this was very easy to control. After I started painting, I'm glad that I hadn't found and tried my black pastel pencil first. This would have surely been picked up by the paint and affected the color.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

2 Coats: It Does A Body Good

with 2 coats of paint
I've put on two coats of the iridescent white acrylic. As you can see, it's an improvement. The picture actually makes it looked more streaked than it really is. I don't know which did the trick: the utility brush, putting the paint on thick, or the second coat. I actually think it was all three. Anyway, it's a huge relief and now I can get on with sketching and painting the actual design.

I also realized that I am not going to get the glassy smooth, autobody finish I saw in my head. Acrylic paint has body. It's the nature of acrylic to be affected by the tools you use to manipulate it. I'm sure you can get a smoother finish, but I don't have the time or the experience in this project to accomplish that.

iridescent SAM
Isn't he cute?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Streaks in the Base Coat

Performance Select 1.5 in. brushAfter putting on one coat of gesso, I was ready to apply the GOLDEN iridescent pearl white acrylic. I'd no idea what brush to use. My guess was at least a 1.5 inch brush but how high quality does this brush have to be. To get a really smooth finish, with as few brush strokes as possible, I was afraid I might have to spend $30 or more. I thought an alternative might be to get a high quality interior paint brush from a home improvement store. I purchased a Performance Select; it had the softest bristles. They still seemed thick and plastic but it was less than $10 so maybe I'd get lucky.

I didn't.

terrible streaks in the first coat
There are terrible streaks, obvious brush strokes and you can definitely see the gesso underneath. Not very iridescent. Did I put it on too thin? I used a wet brush but I didn't add water to the paint. Does it need another coat? The brief note from Christine at Cowpainters indicated it only takes about 2 oz. Was the brush too industrial? I don't know. My inexperience with painting (except for my kitchen) and acrylics is showing.

Loew Cornell Goat Hair utility brushBelieve it or not, I loaded SAM up in the car and hauled him over to Mona Lisa to ask Larry's advice. He was great. He recommended an inexpensive goat hair utility brush. He said the paint needed to go on thick with a dry brush. I'll give that a whirl. If it doesn't work, at least I didn't spend a lot of money. (My friend, Sue, who has painted a lot more than me, got a peak at SAM when he was in the car and she came to the same conclusion - wrong brush.)

Some of you may have deduced that I tend to be on the cheap side. I prefer penny pincher. My Geek says, this can cost you more in the long run. At other times, it can result in innovative solutions to problems.

gesso through a household strainerI have two coats of gesso on the wood base. I would like to put on another but I'm having trouble with my gesso - it's full of clumps. I don't know if this is just the nature of the beast or an indication that it's old. Being too frugal (cough-she's cheap-cough) to throw out what I have, I grabbed a fine mesh strainer out of the kitchen and strained it right into my paint cup. Worked like a charm.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

A Fist Fulla Dollars

Most of the trips I make to Mona Lisa Art Supply are to browse and dream but never to buy. Tis the life of a poor artist. So to walk into Mona Lisa this past weekend with the stipend that FHS gave the artists was a thrill! After putting the paints I knew I had to have in my shopping basket, I started to peruse the brushes. I admit, I caressed and even pawed them, but with great respect. I made my final decision for 8 new brushes.

I hadn't tested the painted surface of the dog, yet, to see what instrument to use to transfer my design with. I assumed that a soft graphite pencil would work but would probably rub off easily. I also wondered if a wax pencil of some kind would be less delicate but just as easy to rub off.

I discovered a dreamy selection of red, yellow, green and orange Stabilo pencils. The one thing I may love more than paper - PENCILS! (Running a heated third are rulers. Strange, huh?)

The spending trip was short but sweet. Somewhat like that Candyland room in the Wonka factory where everything was eatable. They didn't get to spend nearly enough time in that room but I bet it was deliciously unforgettable.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Pickup & Paint

This morning, when I had coffee with my friend, Sue, the weather was cold and icey. She asked me if it was a good omen. I said, "Yes! Definately."
18 dogs in a row
My Geek took me to the dock behind the Pet Supplies Plus to pick up SAM. It had started snowing by now. Stephanie and the crew of volunteers were just unpacking the forms. They were beautiful. I was so excited to finally get my hands on one. They are a lot lighter than I expected. I can pick one up by myself.
SAM gets a ride home
The rain is mixed with ice and snow.
SAM is home in my studio
Willa meets SAM
Of course, Willa was frightened of this strange new addition. We had to coax her into the same room with us and the form. She spent a lot of time sniffing him. My
Geek believes she recognizes it as a dog but can't figure out the strange scents.
Willa gets in every picture
I wanted to get some pictures made before I started painting. It was so strange, Willa kept nosing in next to me. It was almost as if she was jealous.
Using wood fill on the rolling platform
Some wonderful platforms were made and donated to FHS. Since I was going to paint mine white I wanted to prime it with gesso first. I can be obsessive so I put in some wood fill around the molding and in the nail holes. You know those fake credit cards you get in the mail with credit applications? Those make great tools. They scrap, smear and apply and then you can throw them away.
Paiting with iridescent pearl
I started by putting a coat of my iridescent pearl directly on the form. I didn't like it. There were a few dark marks on the form and they were showing through. I stopped and put on a coat of gesso. It covered up all of those marks really well. From what I understand, no additional priming is needed. If anybody knows differently, let me know.
Now I can put on my pearl. And the lady at CowPainters was right - it is going to take less than 2 oz. to cover the form.
Tomorrow I go shopping for the rest of my supplies - paints, brushes and a wax pencil.

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Friday, February 10, 2006


Hello Art Unleashed Artists,

A bit of bad news about our first shipment of 23 dog forms. This shipment was put on 2 trucks and the first 18 arrived safe and sound this morning at Pet Supplies Plus, however the truck with the other 5 has broken down in Columbus, OH.

We are still having the pickup as scheduled tomorrow and Sunday but at this point all we can do is first come, first served.



Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oh Yea, The Paint!

I know. I should have taken care of this already but I haven't ordered my paints yet.

I haven't gone back on my word. I am getting almost everything at my local store, Mona Lisa. But they don't carry the Golden Iridescent Pearl that I'm using for the base and the Lascaux UV-1 Gloss Varnish. The very first thing I will do to SAM (the form) is put on the base coat of Iridescent Pearl. So you would have though I would have ordered it by now. Procrastination. Scatter brained. I'm becoming more like an artist everyday.

My first problem is that I have no idea how much paint to buy. I'm guessing but I think it's going to take a lot. And I also have to paint the base. DickBlick is out of the 32 oz. jar at $51.00. That puts me ordering four of the 8 oz. jars at $16.00 each! With shipping I'm at $90. What am I going to do?

The first thing that comes to mind in my panic is to look at ordering somewhere else. Sure enough, I find the 32 oz. jar on JerrysArtarama. I don't like this web site but at least it has my paint - I think. It's subtle, I know, but the Iridescent Pearl comes in Fine or Coarse. I want Fine. Jerrys site doesn't specify! Why wouldn't it specify! I mean, I would think that would be important.

O.k. Calm down. What if I really don't need 32 oz. Or what if I need 100! This is what I really need to know.

I called and blew off some steam with My Geek. What a great listener!

Lightbulb! I think I need to contact Cowpainters. Maybe they can help. They've been making these forms for 7 years. Surely this question has come up.

I e-mailed them (my favorite form of communication) at mailto:info@cowpainters.com. I hoped I would hear from them today. It just more than an hour later, I got this:

Rule of thumb is that it takes a lot less paint than you'd probably think
when you're looking at the form. We'd say one 2oz. tube of one color will
cover Buddy.

Let us know if you need anything else!

All the best,

Can you believe this!? And I was going to buy 32 oz.! You guys probaby already had this part figured out. But, secretly, for the rest of you, there we are. I won't tell if you won't.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

They're Here!

BuddyI got word from Stephanie today that the dog forms have arrived! I can pick mine up on Saturday at noon.

Let the adventure begin!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Playing with Color & Paints

This weekend it was time to play with paints. I'm not great with colors. It may be the reason I like pen&ink. I don't know. If I had the chance to study art in school, I would just eat up a class on color. I mean, it's really science, when you get down to it. That's my schtick.

I've been coloring my design using the luscious Prismacolors. My palette is Chartrouse, Process Red, Yellowed Orange, and Crimson Red. It was time, though, to go to Mona Lisa and see what Liquitex offered in acrylics.

Final paint palette

I didn't expect to find exact matches. I got lucky, though. I think that Cadmium Yellow Deep Hue will work for my Yellowed Orange. And Cadmium Red Medium Hue will work for my Crimson Red. Mona Lisa only had two yellow-greens. Brilliant Yellow Green is sooooo close. But I think I'm going to add some Cadmium Yellow Light Hue to it. My Process Red was a different issue.

The closest they had was a Medium Magenta. And it really is very close. But I think it's a little dull. What do you do to brighten Magenta?

Iridescent paint test
My other tests were with the iridescents I received back in January. In the picture above, from left to right, is Golden Iridescent Pearl (Fine), Liquitex Iridescent/Pearescent Medium, and Pebeo Acrylic Gel Iridescent Interference Gold.

I want the base of my form to be iridescent white. At first I looked for iridescent white paint. That's when I found the Golden. Then I found iridescent mediums. But since they were used for mixing with pigment, I wasn't sure they would have enough - iridescence.
Unfortunately, iridescents don't scan very well. I am most pleased with the Golden. The Liquitex medium alone would need at least 2 coats. The Pebeo was a long shot. The only info I could get on it was that it could be mixed with other acrylics to make iridescents. I did not know how gold it was going to be but it's pretty gold. I do not want this. I'm after mother-of-pearl iridescent.

My last test is sort of mot but I'll share it with you.

At one time I had considered having all my colors being iridescent. (I've concluded that this is not only overkill but way too disco.) The problem was finding my colors in iridescent. I did find this wonderful palette of Lascaux Perlacryl Iridescent Acrylics but was still concerned about hue.

One option was to mix my desired color with the Liquitex Iridescent medium. Here I have mixed Liquitex Cadmium Red Med Hue in steps with the medium about 6-to-1. At each step I added one more drop of medium.
Liquitex iridescent medium mixed with color

It's not until step 4 that you really begin to see the iridescence. This is also when the color becomes more transparent. It's not until step 7 that I make any change to iridescence and that's because I start adding gobs of the medium. Conclusion, the more iridescence, the less color, the more transparent.

My other idea was to paint the entire dog in regular acrylics and then paint over the entire thing in an iridescent medium. Below, I painted 2 square of Brillian Orange and 2 squares of Cadmium Red. Orange1 has Pebeo Interference Gold painted over the right side. Orange2 has Liquitex Iridescent medium painted over the left. The same is true for Red1 and Red2.
Iridescent medium painted over color
The Pebeo Gold really blocks out the color. It's a nice effect but I would want to thin the medium out more before using it. The Liquitex barely shows any affect unless it hits the light. Then you get almost all iridescence and little color. I think this would have worked better than actually adding the medium to the paint but I'm glad now that I don't have to find out.

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