Volume 5, Number 5, January 2004
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With Michael Cacy
As a part of my four-month stay, I will be expected to paint subjects that relate to Bermuda. Since part of the mission of the foundation is educational, I will also teach a variety of workshops to artists and students of all ages. Masterworks will promote my work and sponsor two showings of the work I create on the island. In February, there will be an exhibition of my work at their Front Street Gallery and my final show will take place in April at the Masterworks Art Center located in the Botanical Gardens. Living space and a studio are provided.
More about Masterworks in a minute, but first…
In a nutshell, it is a chance for a visiting artist to paint and share creative ideas with local artists. A broad array of concerns offer such programs, including schools, colleges and universities, art centers, academies, educational foundations, arts organizations, guilds, corporations, cities, and museums. Even the National Park Service and some hotels, hospitals, and prisons offer "Artist-In-Residence" programs. A quick search on the Internet turned up programs in the U.S., England, Ireland, Scotland, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Brazil, and elsewhere. "Artist-In-Residence" programs are generally offered to those who work in the creative arts, and beyond painters, this includes sculptors, craftsmen, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, writers, scientists and more. If you should ever want to apply for a program like this, you will, of course, be expected to show examples of the work you create and supply a bio and resume'. Though my involvement is due to an invitation by the sponsoring foundation, I still had to update and provide my bio and resume'.
Want to learn more? I have not been able to lay my hands on a copy, but apparently the book "The Artist's Resource Handbook" by Daniel Grant includes a chapter on "Artist-In-Residency" programs.
As you can see, I have already begun exploring my subject matter in anticipation of my trip. Over the years, I have gotten to know a number of Bermudian artists. Bermuda, the northern-most coral reef system in the world, is actually a group of several small islands situated all by itself in the Atlantic. During my first visit several years ago, I became fascinated with the unique history, culture, architecture and exotic natural beauty of Bermuda. For an artist, a glance in any direction is a visual feast.
Michael working in Bermuda
During my island stay, I plan to keep in touch with you through this column and keep you up to speed on what it is like to be an "Artist-In-Residence." I'll post new paintings along the way and explain a little about how they were created.
There will be no shortage of creative stimulus on the island. Over the last few hundred years, many noted artists have visited Bermuda and left behind lasting impressions. The Masterworks Foundation has amassed an impressive collection of paintings by these artists, and the quest continues to procure such masterpieces from museums and private collections around the world. Some of these well-known American, Canadian, British, and French artists who traveled to Bermuda include Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Demuth, Jack Bush, Albert Gleizes, Andrew Wyeth, Marsden Hartley, and Ogden Pleissner. I have already been "nose-to-nose" with several of these paintings, and I came away thoroughly inspired.
Put me in, coach…I'm ready to play.
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Greeting cards are both fun and inexpensive to create and what better time to make some than for Valentine's Day? But have you ever created original works of art as gifts for that special someone? There is no reason why you can't use the same ideas and materials to design fine art rather than greeting cards.
Airbrush is one way to create dynamic looks easily, whenever you choose to make greeting cards or "push" the concept to include fine art. The supplies needed are minimal:
Begin by creating a sketch of your idea. My sketch is a simple double heart shape which will also include slight background textures, shading on the hearts and shadows beneath them. This type of design would be a perfect time to incorporate some "spray through" or soft-edged textures to give extra "punch" to the background if such a look is desired. The hearts will have a smooth surface with gradations to imply roundness. Shadows will anchor the items to the page and offer more of a sense of reality.
While I have chosen to use reds for the heart shapes and coordinated reddish-pinks for the background, you could do them in any colors. Red is the color that has historically been used for Valentines, but other colors would work well, too. Trendy hues such as bright yellow and midnight blue, blue and green or lavender and purple combinations would look very contemporary. You could try different combinations until you hit on one that feels right.
With your drawing as a directive, create a set of two stencils from an oversized piece of heavy card stock. Be sure to cut carefully in order to save the positive shapes to cover the finished heart art while you work on the background. One clear advantage to selecting stencils for this particular project is they can be used to create more than one work. Alternatively, you could cut a large piece of Artmask to reveal the first shape you wish to paint. Save the cutout piece so that you can place it over the completed area without fear of damage as you airbrush the second shape.
The background was applied in several colors, rather quickly, and then impressed with a crushed plastic bag for texture.
Paint the first shape completely, including any highlights and shaded areas you want to include. Allow it to dry, then use the second stencil positioned over the area you want to be the second heart. If you are using Artmask, cut the second shape. Replace the first shape before airbrushing the second shape. This allows you the ability to control the placement of all tones of light and dark without spoiling your work on the first heart.
The finished matted heart art. Thin brush strokes were added to define the edges of the heart shapes and as highlight on the background.
When both heart shapes are airbrushed and completed, cover both shapes and then work on the background. Lay on textures and patterns if desired. I used a crushed plastic bag for a light crackled texture but you have to move quickly. The paint must remain wet until you texture it by pressing the crumpled bag on the wet surface. Many other items would work well as paint-through: doilies, lace, sticks, pine needles, snips of different gauge wire, etc. Experiment with different ideas and you'll see how much fun it can be.
Finish the work of art by applying shadows beneath the heart shapes to anchor them to the page and to give a strong dimensional feeling. Do this by using a very dark tone of those present in the background or by using a soft black or dark gray tone. I also added some brushwork to the edges of the hearts for final definition and to the background for added interest.
When complete, consider cutting a simple single mat as part of the presentation. This gives a finished look to your creation. Remember to try different combinations of colors, different textures and, above all, have fun with the project!
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Recently a friend of mine asked if I would customize his motorcycle helmet. He was looking for more than the usual flames that I could have put on using 1/8-inch masking tape. Lucky for him I had just what he was looking for in Craig Fraser's Freehand Airbrush Stencils.
These stencils are made from a Mylar-like material that is impervious to solvents and they come in a wide variety of different subjects. There are several different skulls, flames, bullet holes, cheetah spots, and diamond plate, to name a few.
Here we see the items we'll be using. The helmet, the various airbrush stencils, and the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS gravity feed airbrush. The stencils can be ordered by following the two links below:
While these stencils are best suited for work on flat surfaces, they can easily be adapted to create a flexible stencil to go on round shaped objects such as this German helmet purchased at one of those leather clothing outlets in the mall. The helmet was originally painted gloss black, so in order to customize, the gloss had to be sanded off and re-primed. I decided to paint a few different looking skulls around the helmet to give it a little more spruce.
I made a flexible stencil by placing strips of 3-inch-wide masking tape on a piece of leftover Plexiglas and tracing the skull pattern out. (A quick bit of info for you model builders out there: Throw NOTHING away. This will make you a pack rat but it pays off.)
Once the patterns I wanted to use were traced out on the tape, I peeled the tape off and placed it on the German helmet. Now, using a new #11 blade in my X-Acto knife, I carefully cut out the pattern, being certain not to cut into the paint on the helmet. This takes great care and practice, so be careful.
Once I had the pattern cut out, I masked off the rest of the helmet using Hobby Mask. This stuff looks like a very thick plastic wrap and can be stretched to make it more flexible. The neatest thing about it is it can be reused over and over and it sticks to almost anything. It has just enough tackiness that it will maintain a seal on your work, but not so much that it will peel the paint away when you remove it. I've used the same two strips of Hobby Mask throughout this entire project, and it's just as good as when I took it off the roll. It is much cleaner and easier to use than masking tape. Buy some. You won't be disappointed.
Anyway, back to the project at hand.
I didn't want to go all out on this project, so I picked out colors I thought the average biker would have. Using my Iwata HP-CS gravity feed brush and water-based Freak Flex Turned Ghost White, I sprayed several light coats.
Next, I decided to add two more skulls from another SkullMaster set on each side of the helmet. In this case, all I had to do was turn the stencil over and retrace the pattern to get a reverse-sided skull.
Once again, I placed the tape on the helmet before cutting. I attempted to cut the tape before placing it on the helmet, but when I attempted to peel the tape off, the pattern became distorted and unusable.
This time I decided to make the skulls a dark red. I used Model Master Chrysler Engine Red lacquer and again sprayed several light coats.
Make certain the paint has completely dried before peeling the tape.
Next, I decided to add a few bullet holes using Artool's Special FX stencils. This time, I decided to use Alclad lacquer Chrome. This paint is airbrush ready and requires no mixing or thinning. This paint is the best I've found for imitating chromed metal. You may remember this paint from "The Alien Project."
This was a fun project. If you're into quick and simple graphics, these stencils are the ticket!
Any questions? Feel free to email me via the Start Over/W.A.D. Productions website! Check out our web page at http://www.geocities.com/startoverwad/index.htm.
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Hello again, airbrush fiends! This time out we will be taking a look at silicone preparation and painting using these severed arms that I recently created for "Pitch Black II" as our examples.
Silicone is an amazing material for casting top quality, lifelike make-ups and props. Nothing replicates the look (and feel for that matter) of real flesh in quite the same way as silicone casting products. Like any artistic medium, it has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Advantages would include its unsurpassed ability to resonate a certain lifelike quality due to its translucency (which you cannot attain using foam latex); its flexibility and weight (particularly in that it moves like flesh); and the widely varying formulae combinations available to the artist that allow the silicone to be cast in a myriad of flexibilities and stiffness. Its disadvantages include, mainly, its high cost relative to comparable casting materials as well as its weight and an elevated degree of difficulty in edge blending techniques (when using it to cast make-ups and prosthetics that are to be glued down).
Silicone is a complex and amazing product, but I urge you not to be scared of it. With a little practice, experimentation, and financial investment, I think you will see that it is the only choice for certain projects. To continue beating our long dead horse, practice and experimentation are the key words here. Purchase a small amount and play with it before launching into a complete project. I suggest casting up a small piece and concentrating on flawless casting, the seaming of the piece, fabricating on it with thickened silicone, and of course tinting and painting. For more information on the basics of the product, I defer to the experts. I recommend calling Silpak, Inc., in North Hollywood, CA (website: http://www.silpak.com/) to purchase your first kit. They sell all of the various products in smaller kits and, more importantly, are extremely knowledgeable regarding the available products as well as all of the differing configurations so that they can help you to get exactly what you want for your particular needs.
Now on to our main topic, this set of arms. I cast these from silicone molds, which were made from life casts. (Important-you must use the proper separating agent when casting silicone in silicone or it will bind to the mold and become one permanently inseparable piece suitable only for the garbage.) I used a universal tint (also available at Silpak, Inc.) in extremely small quantities to intrinsically tint the pieces to my desired base flesh tone for each piece. I aim for the mid range of my overall paint scheme when mixing the tint in. In other words I want to maintain the translucency of the silicone in the finished piece, so that means I cannot base the whole thing out. If you get your tint/base color to the exact mid-range of your paint scheme, you can then add both lighter and darker colors with great complexity, utilizing varied concentrations of paint and translucency in the paint job while allowing a lot of the unpainted and translucent silicone to show through. This is what gives a good silicone paint job its heightened sense of depth and, therefore, reality.
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The tinting is indeed a tricky thing--too little and the whole piece looks see through and fake, requiring a more heavy handed paint job; too much and the whole thing is too opaque, which makes a complete waste of using the expensive silicone in the first place. It is also important to note here that the cured piece will look different than the silicone alone does in the bucket mixed with tint. This is because in the mixing vessel you are seeing light reflected through layers of uncured silicone and at the bottom the color of the vessel itself. In the finished piece you will be seeing light reflected through however many layers of silicone you cast and the interior fill material. That being said, the amount of layers, the concentration of color in each layer (which can indeed be varied for advanced effect) and the color of the interior material (for example polyfoam in a prop-which can also be tinted) all play a major role in the color and translucency of your finished piece. Like I said earlier, practice and experimentation is the key here and that truth becomes exponentially potent when dealing with more advanced materials like silicone. Keep in mind that my friend and fellow FX artist Brian Blair has developed his own special technique for making realistic organs and internal body parts using silicone that is almost exclusively internally tinted. When combined with experimentation and persistence of vision, silicone is a truly amazing product.
Once my pieces were cast in silicone (three layers brushed into the mold and one final, more opaque layer), I back filled the pieces with semi-rigid polyurethane foam that I tinted a neutral grayish color. While the foam was setting, I inserted the bone fragments, which I had previously cast up in SilWhite resin and painted with Minute Stains. By inserting it now, I allow the polyfoam to rise up onto the bone, nearly encasing it while it sets. This will provide me with excess material that I can carefully scrape and tear away, providing an excellent "damaged" wound look. Once everything is set up completely, I remove the pieces from the mold and carefully trim away the seam left by the molding edge. There is a very particular scissor tool for seaming silicone that makes this job much easier.
Once the seam is nipped away, I mix a seaming batch of silicone. It is very important to remember to set aside some of your tinted material before casting for use in this stage. If you use all of your pre-tinted silicon when casting, you will find it next to impossible to get an exact color match in a new batch of silicone for seaming. This will give you a different color seam and draw attention to the seam blend, which is quite the opposite of what you want!! I mix some of the pre-tinted silicone with Shinitsu silicone caulking, catalyst and fast catalyst to blend out the seam. This is basically the same formulae I use to fabricate (or sculpt onto) a silicone piece, with the addition of a small bit of thixotropic agent and controlled amounts of cabosil. That combination yields a sculptable type of "putty"… but I digress, I could go on for hours about that intriguing idea alone. By the by, I will be covering many of these concepts in hyper-detail in my upcoming book on Professional Three Dimensional Fabrication and Painting Techniques, which you can look for (tentatively) late this year. Stay tuned to our articles here at http://www.airbrushtalk.com/ for future updates.
Back to the point: After the seam has set completely I mix up some small colored batches of silicone, tinting them purples and reds, and fast catalyzing them. I then seal the exposed polyfoam around the bone with thin layers of these mixtures creating the internal coloring of the exposed muscle and gore. Once these layers have set up, we are ready for paint. It is of the utmost importance in silicone painting to properly clean the subject before doing anything else! If you do not, the paint WILL come screaming right back off the silicone when you touch it. I suggest careful, rigorous scrubbing with Naphtha as the basic preferred cleaning method. Make several (6-8) full passes on the piece and then make sure to clean off ALL of the Naphtha using acetone and then clean all of the acetone off using alcohol.
That's all for now. We will be back in March with the second installment and conclusion of this article focusing on the painting of these pieces.
|WatercolorTalk.com features informative articles on Watercolor paints, brushes, paper, techniques, tips and products.|
Basic and Intermediate Airbrush Workshop Complete
With Robert Paschal
6hrs - $120 - Saturday, March 27, 2004
At Bulldog Studios - Creative Community Center (Old High School)
2-day class, 12 Hours - $300
Fishkill Ave., Beacon, NY
(60 miles north of New York City and home to DIA:Beacon)
(http://www.arttalk.com/workshop/Pamela Shanteau Airbrush Workshops.htm)
...the link between you, the visual artist, and the manufacturer of art materials.
|ARTtalk is a monthly eight-page newsletter available FREE-OF-CHARGE from Participating Art Material Retailers in the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. Each month you'll find informative articles that deal with a variety of subjects such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, arts and crafts, and more. These explain various techniques--how to work and paint with watercolor, oils, or acrylics; use pastels or pen and ink, airbrush, and more. You'll find information on art history, current events and art world news, as well as an occasional "Kids' Korner." Subjects vary and change each month.|