Volume 6, Number 5, January 2005

Published six times a year by The Paschal Group, Inc.
Publisher: Robert Paschal
Editor: Jeanne Paschal
Also see — The Newsletter for Visual Artists

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Historic Valentine's Day - Craft Ideas

By Janean S. Thompson
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Hot on the heels of our festive end of year celebrations comes one of the most special days of the year. Valentine's Day is a day to honor the extraordinary people in our lives. The history of the day is not certain, but it is well documented that a Roman priest, St. Valentine, was martyred for refusing to denounce Christianity and the sanctity of marriage. On February 14, 269 A.D., Emperor Claudius condemned St. Valentine for defying him. Claudius had ordered the cancellation of all marriages and engagements in order to separate lovers and by doing so build the enlistment in his armies. St. Valentine secretly married many couples, directly ignoring Claudius. For this deed he was sentenced to death by clubbing, the Roman punishment of the time. Before his demise, St. Valentine sent a note to the jailer's daughter, thanking her for her friendship. Thus, began the tradition of sending notes, small gifts or flowers on February 14.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland of Massachusetts is given credit for sending the first valentine cards in 1848. She helped launch the business of commercial valentines by using her father's stationery shop materials, lace and lettering in these first Valentine's Day greetings. From this beginning has grown the day we now celebrate and a massive industry.

Delicate, hand sewn, antique Valentine's Day punch work card, dated 1892.

The earliest Valentine's Day greetings were handmade. They sometimes involved paper punch work cards, something like needlepoint canvas, but actually heavy paper with precisely placed holes. Threads were then sewn into the holes in patterns and letters to create messages. The hand-sewn greeting in this photo is an 1892 piece completed from a manufactured pre-punched base card.

Today we have thousands of choices in materials and applications, so it is easy to create original Valentine's cards or gifts with personality and charm that will delight any recipient. Sometimes even the simplest approach is dramatic. Our project in celebration of Valentine's Day is to make cards and coordinated envelopes, with overlapped heart images in different sizes. This same technique could be used to create all sorts of gifts: desk organizers, bulletin boards, book covers, vases for the flowers you will give and even decorative fabrics, wallpaper borders and accessories.

Materials needed include: Airbrush (I used an Iwata Eclipse Revolution HP-CR-R-4500.); air source (My treasured Iwata Studio Series Smart Jet Compressor as always is a great choice.); greeting cards and envelopes; at least two tones of acrylic airbrush paint (Lavender and red were my choices.); and purchased or handmade stencils.

Finishing airbrush touches. Could be embellished with lace, glitter, faux gemstones, etc.

Begin by selecting or creating your heart-shaped stencils. Several sizes and shapes will make the finished card (or decorative item) more interesting. Stencils can be cut from many materials such as card stock, poster board, stencil sheeting or heavy paper. Once you have the stencils, you are ready to prepare the paints and get down to business.

If you are using lavender and red, apply the lavender first so that the red will be the dominant tone; or use lavender as a highlight tone for red shapes. You can mix the application methods and images to get a nice selection of finished cards, each unique.

Card and matching envelope - make a great impression even before the card is read!

Along with the cards, you might want to consider creating a decorated envelope. It is very simple to tie the envelope and card together as a "set" by adding a design to the envelope. All-over designs look elegant and simple single additions look great, too. You choose!

An ancient style of declaring friendship or affection, wind messages are tied to limbs near the entrance of the recipient's home.

Once you have completed the card, you might want to consider sending it to the Loveland, Colorado, Postmaster General (Zip 80538) for postmark. They do a huge business during this time of year helping lovers and friends add an extra special element to their cards. Or, if you are up for a real challenge, consider creating old fashioned "wind greetings" - messages of love and friendship that you create and then tie in the limbs of a tree at the home of the recipient. These are easy, fun and most unusual. Make them with strips of heavy card stock or poster board and tie on with a ribbon. They flutter in the wind and really command attention.

Iwata Airbrushes
The professional Iwata Airbrush line is imported and manufactured exclusively by Medea Airbrush Products, along with commercial spray guns, Medea Textile Colours and Com-Art Airbrush Colours.

Horizon Gillman Bust

by Wes Hawkins
Start Over/W.A.D. Productions
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Horizon created this neat large-scale bust of a Gillman looking creature before finally closing their doors. This bust is apparently ˝ scale and cast in vinyl, which makes installing glass eyes simple. I purchased some bluegill fish eyes from a taxidermy company and installed them in the hollow head. After completing assembly, I decided to try to paint this fine bust in a freshwater fish scheme rather than the green and tan that is the usual Creature from the Black Lagoon scheme.

Since the bust is large scale, I decided not to use my smaller airbrush normally reserved for high detail work and instead try out a new Iwata Eclipse G6 spray gun. I followed the enclosed instructions for setting up the airbrush, set the brush to spray in a fan pattern rather than a round pattern, and sprayed a little water through the brush to familiarize myself with its operation. I was impressed! Now I can spray a large area in a fraction of the time it would have taken me in the past!

I began by spraying a coat of Freak Flex Rotten Tooth Tan with the G6 and allowed it to dry. Next, I decided to noodle a broken pattern of grays using Com Art's Neutral Gray Kit H. I didn't want to start too dark, so my first application used Neutral Gray 40% and progressed down with 30%, 20%, and finally 10% using an Eclipse HP-CS. Each application of color was random enough to break up the surface detail without covering the prior color. Each color shows through, including the base color.

Here you can see the effect after the secondary and final shade of gray is applied.

Next I had to decide how I wanted the bust to look. I chose to paint the bust to look similar to a bluegill. After researching pics on the Internet, I met a gentleman named Ed Walicki who gave me some great tips on painting the bluegill.

While I didn't want the bust to look exactly like the fish, I wanted to use the basic color scheme. I painted the back of the creature with Com Art Transparent Royal Blue, and then traced the gills and fins with Transparent Ultramarine. Next I hit the head with Transparent Emerald Green followed by Transparent Forest Green and Transparent Moss Green here and there to break up the surface color. Finally, I traced each gill with Com Art Transparent Violet.

Here you can see the final result of all the different shades of transparent colors tied in together. While from a distance the different shades do not appear obvious, direct light makes the shades stand out. I also misted the back, head and shoulders with ComArt's Pearl Additive to give the body a fish-like sheen. As time went on, the bust stopped looking like an aquatic creature and ended up looking like an alien of some sort. Still, I'm pleased with the result.

The Iwata Eclipse G6 spray gun made laying down the base coat much simpler than I had anticipated, cutting down actual paint time by at least 60%. The Eclipse HP-CS made high details easy to apply. Com Art transparent colors made a wonderful addition to this project and I highly recommend them! Thanks for reading! Until next time!!

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Some Literature on Ligature

by Glenn Hetrick
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Hello again, airbrush fiends! Many of my articles in the past have been about broader painting topics using a single example, but this time we are going to focus on one specific technique--creating realistic ligature marks. This technique can be used and adapted to create realistic friction burn and rash effects, as well. I recently painted these examples on a silicone corpse that we did at Optic Nerve Studios for an episode of the television series Crossing Jordan.

This particular show is one that I truly enjoy working on because week after week it presents us with new challenges in three-dimensional painting. Being that it is a forensic pathology-themed show, each of the effects has to be researched (for cause of death) and matched for realism. Most of the research is done with actual medical reference books and can be quite gruesome at times. For this particularly unlucky fellow, it was drowning, but he had also been tied down to a chair. His restraints inevitably left ligature marks as a clue for the investigators. In my research I found color reference as well as the all important pattern reference. You see, ligature marks have a rather distinct pattern, not quite a solid line but rather a choppy, broken up pattern in the form of a line where the restraint placed pressure on the flesh. The greater the pressure, the darker the pattern, so depending on what the victim is tied too and where on the body the restraints are placed, you will have different patterns.

To create this effect in paint, I started by mixing up the proper colors in silicone paint. (See my previous articles for further tips on paint mixing.) The entire body was first painted in flesh tones and the marks were created as a finishing step. I mixed up a Burnt Umber, Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, and Yellow Ochre. I combined the Burnt Umber with the Crimson for a red-brown, the Blue with the Crimson for a red-purple and the Crimson with the Yellow Ochre to create a light reddish-yellow.

Beginning with the red-brown thinned out, I loaded my Iwata HP-C and sprayed on a broken up, almost stipple-like pattern on the areas where the marks occur. I went in much heavier on the front of the ankle where the pressure of the restraint would have been greatest. (As you can see in the photo, we also had to render the toes severely frost bitten…but that is another article unto itself.) It is important to make sure that the various lines of patterning do not run exactly parallel, but rather at naturally occurring angles to each other. Once I had the ankles and wrists patterned out, I changed colors to the reddish-yellow and broke the pattern up even more. Using this color I also hazed some of the surrounding areas where bruising occurs and blended out some of the more concentrated areas of red-brown.

With the paint still wet, I often take a Q-tip soaked in Naphtha or a fine 00 brush and gently streak and blot the pattern to break it up further still. I have even used the edge of a piece of paper for extremely thin lines; use your imagination here. This somewhat unorthodox approach to patterning can give you stunning results. Try to remember that this is art and it is always important to improvise and create experimental techniques while working in order to grow as an artist. Exercise extreme caution while using this technique, particularly when employing thinner as mentioned here. Too much thinner or too much pressure/rubbing/agitation to the wet surface can very easily lift up the layers of under painting, leaving you with a raw unpainted area that can be a true nightmare to touch up.

Next, I loaded my airbrush with a very thin red-purple and, following the pattern, added some blotches of concentrated color in the heavier areas. I also added a haze of this color in some of the surrounding bruised flesh. This color on the reddish yellow makes for a ghastly bruised effect. Keep the patterning really random and asymmetrical. Finally, I loaded my Iwata Micron CM-C Plus with straight (and slightly more concentrated) Crimson to go in and add some really punched up streaks and blots to the heavier sections of the pattern.

I encourage all of you to try a paint exercise like this to see the effectiveness of the color layering and patterning techniques so that you will have them in your bag of tricks. I bet you will be surprised to see how often the techniques of something this specific come in handy when trying to achieve other effects with your airbrush. Best of luck and I'll see you soon!

Silentaire Technology
Silent compressors for use with airbrushes, spray guns, and air tools from Werther International.

Velociraptor Paint-Up

by Larry Horyna
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

For me, as a model builder, one of the most enjoyable airbrushing subjects has got to be dinosaurs. Only science fiction subjects give you the latitude to use your imagination more. There are a number of good kits on the market, many of them in plastic, but the nicest ones I've seen are vinyl. My latest kit is the now hard to find Velociraptor from Horizon. The kit measures almost two feet in length and has incredible detail and a very dynamic pose. After simple, straightforward construction, the kit is ready to paint. I chose to use taxidermy owl eyes and mask them out before painting. Now, on to color!

I wanted to pick a colorful scheme for my dinosaur but didn't want to get too gaudy. I chose an overall two-tone brown and beige scheme with a dark red-brown "tiger stripe" with a black outline. For my overall colors, I thinned Polly Scale paint and used my Iwata Eclipse brush, which is my workhorse. One of my favorite things to do with the airbrush, and what I think makes it such a unique tool for painting models, is to highlight each color by adding a bit of white to the base color and hitting the "high spots" on the model. This is done not only with the main two colors but on the tiger stripes as well. Depending on the color you use, white is not always the best thing to tone a color down, so be aware of this if you try this technique. Sometimes a beige color is better for toning down a brown, as it was in this case. The red-brown of the stripes was toned down with the base brown color.

After the main colors were applied, the real trick to making this scheme stand out was the application of a fine black outline to the stripes. For fines lines and the control it allows, I use my Iwata HP/B. The gravity feed also allows for a lower air pressure so you can get nice and close to your subject. This was the most tedious part of the paint job but well worth the time and effort. The black really makes the stripes stand out and yet the scheme isn't so loud that it doesn't look realistic. Again, one of the real tricks here is to use your imagination without going too overboard!

After airbrushing the scheme I then apply a coat of Future floor wax so that I can hand brush a thinned wash of paint into all the fine cracks and detail lines of the scales. The clear gloss of the Future allows the wash to flow easily into the detail areas and allows me to wipe away any excess that I don't want. Once that is dry, I dry brush a final highlight and then apply a coat of Polly Scale flat. The last step is to hand-paint all the details such as the claws, mouth and teeth and remove the mask from the eyes. The end result is a colorful, yet realistic looking reptilian scheme that was fun to paint and required no masking other than the eyes. features informative articles on Watercolor paints, brushes, paper, techniques, tips and products.

Airbrush Workshops Presents

"Basic Airbrush Techniques Complete"


Saturday, February 26, 2005
10-1 and 2-5 - 6 Hours
Robert Paschal, MFA, Artist/Author
Whether you wish to use an airbrush for fine art, models, hobbies/crafts, makeup, tattoos, custom automotive graphics, murals, decorative art, illustration, cake decorating, etc., the same basic techniques apply. So don't miss this opportunity!

"Digital Photography Made Easy"


Friday, April 22, 2005
6-9 p.m.
Donn Shanteau

"Intermediate/Advanced Airbrush - Special Effects & Techniques"
(All New) - 2-Day Workshop


Sat. and Sun., April 23-24, 2005
10-1 and 2-5 - 6 Hours
Pamela Shanteau

All classes are held at:
Gallery at the Square
18 East Main St.
Beacon, NY

For further info on the above classes, visit or call 845 - 831-1043

Classes are kept small to provide individual attention,
and registration is first-come, first-served.

All materials and equipment are provided for use in class.

"Art in the Adirondacks" will present a two-day workshop on Custom Automotive Graphics Airbrushing with Pamela Shanteau in June in Indian Lake, N.Y. Information will be published soon at the above site or be available by calling the above number. This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity and seats will be limited!



...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.




Look for your next issue of AirbrushTalk in March 2005!