In The Land of Enchantment

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El Morro National Monument, New Mexico

In late May 2018 we left the emerald lush greens of the Pacific Northwest and started our journey south. We took a ferry from Coupeville, Whidbey Island, to the pacific coast – hoping to finally see the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate, it was a typical foggy day on the Olympic peninsula. We instead headed towards Hood River, for an impromptu visit with my father in law’s Aunt.

From Hood River we headed south east, towards Boise, ID, spending the night in Mountain Home, ID. The next night, Monticello, UT. We had thought it would be easy to find lodging but it turns out it might have been graduation weekend – which complicated things slightly, in addition to having a dog along. It’s getting harder to travel with a pet.

We traveled through some of the most stunning landscapes I have seen in my life. The sky stayed turquoise blue, the landscape dried out and we were welcomed by the beautiful red rockscapes of the high desert. We arrived in Gallup, NM on Sunday, May 20th, and closed on our home the next day.

Unlike our mere year and a half in Western Washington – we are making a definite effort to get out and see the sights. Two weekends ago we visited the Wolf Sanctuary near Ramah, NM. Last weekend we hiked El Morro National Park and Monument. Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical park. I am happy to give my little girl some amazing experiences.

My husband started work right after Memorial Day, in Window Rock, for the Navajo Department of Justice. I spent time getting paperwork together for my daughter’s new pre-k, and trying to find the Arts Community.

We attended an amazing Arts Crawl on the second Saturday in June, and I joined a local arts Coop. Here’s to new beginnings in the high desert, right off of Historic Route 66. This small town is brightly decorated with amazing public murals, and other handpainted art works. Did I mention we live off of highway 491 – which was originally Highway 666? (well, not since 2003)

 

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Of Cheap (Yellow) Paint and its discontents. Get the good stuff.

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Indian Yellow – Pigment that was originally created from the urine of cows that were fed mango leaves. (Not since 1908! No cows harmed at Gamblin!) Photo courtesy of Gamblincolors.com

The things we do for colors. Thankfully cows are no longer force fed mango leaves to create this pigment. Gone are Mummy Brown. Dragons Blood. Hartshorn. Paris Green. Smalt. Cochineal Red. Wait, that one is still in use. Ew. (Bug juice)

When in art college and grad school there was the ongoing debate and decision making -could I afford to get the quality (ie expensive) paints or just get the student grade? For the most part, if I could, I got the good stuff. I didn’t know the difference back then. Not many instructors went over the quality of pigments, they just gave you their list of suggested paints. And off to the store I went.

Later, the art geek in me started learning more about the pigments and what made up the different paints. What was the difference between a student/cheaper paint and a “professional grade” paint. (hint = more filler, less pigment in the cheaper stuff) What was the difference between a HUE vs a pure pigment, other than the price? (hint = HUE on a label means it’s a MIX of pigments to create a similar color to the expensive one.)

Knowledge is power, and I got really good at understanding the labels and the pigments that created the paints I love. And I developed more confidence by learning how to mix my own colors from some really good primary colors by Maimeri Puro, thanks to one of my classmates. Working with just the primaries (plus) is a time honored painting style that does end up being more economically saavy, though not as fun shopping. (my standard palette has at least 12 colors. Unless I am plein-airing. Then it’s 6)

My biggest peeve in color is Yellow. Yes, our basic, primary, yellow. Why would that color irk me so? Well, when it is a quality yellow, what joy it is to paint. It does exactly what I want, mixes beautifully, and does not disappear. (tip – add a *touch* of titanium white to your yellow if you are having trouble, it adds a little opacity that sometimes can help)

When I skimp and use cheaper brand yellows, wow. What a difference. It simply vanishes. It takes gobs and gobs of yellow just to create an average mix. And it is almost always, too transparent. All colors have their specific opacities, but cadmiums should NOT be transparent.

Now, I didn’t believe this for a long time after school. I used whatever grade of paint I could afford, and wondered why I was having so much trouble. But I had a revelation when I was teaching an afterschool art program for kids. Some of them proudly brought in their brand new mega art kits – the ones that have everything under the sun, packaged in a beautiful folding wooden easel.  The paints were awful. Really, really awful. The filler (what is added to the paint as well as medium) was so prevalent the colors barely mixed. And to go back to yellow – we tried mixing greens and literally could not mix greens – the yellow disappeared. If I hadn’t seen it for myself I would not have believed it.

So my two cents, if this rant has been useful – get the higher quality paint, unless you can’t afford it. In that case, choose wisely/research what you want to spend your money on – earth colors and whites are usually be less spendy. Are you willing to do the work and mix those colors? Splurge on  a set of good quality primary colors plus a tube of white. Higher quality paints will suprisingly last longer and provide a much more satisfying experience.

My favorite oil paint brands? Gamblin, Williamsburg, MGraham are my top favorites but I also use Winsor Newton (and their student grade, Winton) and Grumbacher.

Curious about oil paints, mediums, etc? Check out Gamblin Oil Paints website. Very informative and has helpful videos too. http://www.Gamblincolors.com

Have you had issues with your color mixing?

Thanks for listening! Warmly, Dana

 

 

 

30 Brown (Earth) Dogs – Year of The Dog 2018

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Waldo, Dog #45, 6×6 oil on panel – 1001dogs.tumblr.com

2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Lunar New Year. More specifically, it is the year of the “Earth” element Dog. As I mentioned last post, I have committed to Leslie Saeta’s 30 Day Challenge this February. My chosen theme is Brown Dogs. So for the entire month of February, I will post 1 small painting of a brown dog each day. Maybe some other work too. 😉

The reference pictures are from shelters, and for the most part, they have been adopted or rescued. If you would like to “adopt” one of my brown doggies, they will be $100 each, unframed, with $25 going back to the Shelter. Free Shipping for any Brown Dog paintings from the series. Inquiries may come to me – danaaldisstudio@gmail.com

I am also working on a set of Chinese Breed Dogs, which will be turned into a poster to celebrate the Year of the Dog. Stay tuned.

Can’t say I don’t keep myself busy.  Here’s to hoping my health and my energy stay up. There’s a nasty flu virus this year. It must be nasty when your Dad (General Practice Doc) and Mom (Microbiologist) insist I go get vaccinated.

If you are also doing the Leslie Saeta Challenge, please let me know! If you prefer just to see the paintings, please follow my Instagram – @DanaAldisStudio

Happy Painting!

Are you ready for a(n Art) Challenge?

I am thankful that I am finally getting over a rather rough cold, as well as healing up from a freak fall on my porch stairs. It was a rough couple weeks. It’s been a while since I painted, from sheer pain/exhaustion/feeling icky. My energy came back, and I discovered that I will happily work away listening to Audible or podcasts.  I get away to distracted listening to the news.

We are still waiting for an electrician to come by and fix our electrical issue – all the rooms on one of our electrical circuits is being temperamental. It is kinda working, but it affects my daughter’s bedroom and my studio, so I have taken over the dining room table.

But, I digress. I was listening to the Leslie Saeta Artists Helping Artists Podcast, and she is promoting her February “30 in 30 Art Challenge” I was originally not going to join up, but, I have changed my mind. Here’s why, and some background.

I was first introduced to the concept of art challenge around 2008-2009. It was a show called The Forgotten Works Challenge, held at the Tashiro Kaplan Building near Pioneer Square, Seattle. The “Challenge” consisted of creating 30 artworks on 8×10 canvasboard panels, within 30 days. Exactly. That’s a lot of surface to cover. I remember telling the coordinator I would not be able to complete the challenge – he said – slap some sharpie smiley faces on the blank ones, but bring them ALL back. Light Bulb! Since then, though, I have figured out how to complete all the panels. 😉

Since then, I have pretty much done some variation of the 30 day challenge. Sometimes even a couple times a year. If you check out the sidebar on this blog, most of the Series posted were done in that mindset. What can I say, I like series. Also, it sure made me a better, faster, more confident painter.

I think it has helped me more recently, to have some kind of theme. So my theme for the February 30 in 30 Challenge is The Brown Dog. Why? Well, it’s the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Lunar New Year. AND February 16th is the Lunar New Year start day! AND it’s the year of the EARTH dog (element, get it, brown dog, earth dog) AND my favorite subjects are… Dogs! So. Very. Excited.

Have you done Leslie’s Art Challenge? Or another one in your town? How have you approached it?

If you want to join Leslie’s Challenge, here’s the link – you you might have to cut and paste, sorry – https://www.saetastudio.com/30-in-30.html.   I recommend listening to the latest Artists Helping Artists podcast – it talks about how this (or any) Art Challenge can be very useful to any artist. Enjoy!

Psst – check out Amber Honour’s blog – burntumberarts.com She’s doing her own January Challenge. And I believe #stradaeasel is doing one too! Follow them on FB or Instagram, and while you’re at it – check me out too of you want – @DanaAldisStudio

Let’s Talk Tech, and Other Things

So 2018 started off not quite as smoothly as I would have liked. We had a lovely trip home for the holidays – first time in over a decade. It was great to see family, though too short of a trip to actually visit anyone outside of the immediate families. Still, watching my four year old daughter really experience Christmas was priceless.

Back home in Washington, my Dell laptop (only a couple years old) decided that it would no longer cooperate and reboot correctly after a bunch of updates. Granted, Windows 10 was always buggy, but come on. Like any tech, I just wanted it to work. I have images to load, stuff to print, things to market. So now the laptop sits on my desk. A brick. I have a good friend in Seattle that wants to give it a shot, so we will go see him in a week or so.

Thinking positively, it will make me less likely to tinker around on text based stuff and crank out some studio work. And now I am putting my IPad into overdrive use. As much as I like touch screens, nothing beats a good keyboard. Right now I am using one by Arteck, and trying to finish this post on my IPad.

I wanted to share with you my favorite apps of 2017. I have a couple that have come in really handy, and perhaps you might enjoy them as well. Most have free options, though, I have found that I ended up purchasing the yearly membership, which has a couple more perks.

First – “Later”, an app that helps you schedule posts to Instagram. The free version allows you to post up to 30 posts a month, and that works for me, for now. Very easy to use.

Second – IFTTT (If This, Then That) has helped me cross post to most social media platforms. And if you don’t find what you need, you can create your own “applet”. So now, if I post to my Instagram page, it automatically shows up on my FB Page and Twitter feed. A specific hashtag will post to my Pinterest. Gone (for the most part) are the days of loading each account individually. I am pleased that it doesn’t just load a link, which was happening with Hootsuite.

Third – PicMonkey. I did pay for the “Royale” version, which gives me more options. I can edit pictures, crop, create collages that are size specific (for social media or other things)

Fourth – Canva. A great app for non designers (and probably) designers too – to build very nice layouts for print or social media. Again, I did purchase the yearly membership, which allows you to access more layouts and has more perks.

I hope you take a moment to check out the apps. Perhaps they can benefit you as well. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

BE Square – Spring 2016 – Frog Invasion

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These are my set of 15 acrylic paintings for the 2016 Spring Be Square Challenge, that was held at the Fourth Wall Studio & Art Gallery, Lewiston, ID. 13 of the 15 sold, very exciting!

The Be Square Challenge started with the (now closed) Creative Shop and Myndie from the Fourth Wall has continued the tradition. This will be the fourth year, and this Spring Challenge is the first of two this year – the second will be on Small Business Saturday in November (after Black Friday).

What is the Be Square Challenge? Artists are encouraged to create 15 artworks on 8″x8″ canvasboard. They have 21 days to complete the work, more or less. All artwork is for sale at a set price of $30.

I decided on frogs as my subject this time around. I adhered patterned cotton fabric onto the canvasboard panels, sealed with matte medium. I then transferred and painted the frogs using acrylic paints. I love painting frogs! Especially tree frogs and poison dart frogs.