Across the Lake

Landscape, oils
©2021, Emma Pittson, “Across the Lake”. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 10″ x 8″ x 0.5″.

Remember the scratchy stretched canvas from two posts back? By the time I realized what I was dealing with, it was too late to gesso the entire image, but since all I had managed to put down was the value study, I did something that (I think) was very clever: I just gave the canvas a few coats of matte medium. Instead of completely covering up all the work I had already done, the transparency of the matte medium allowed the value study to show through AND help to fill in all the little nooks and crannies of this extremely rough canvas.

And it worked! Granted, this is not how I would want to approach every painting. My art-making time is limited, so adding an extra step to store-bought, stretched canvases can’t really fit into my schedule. On the other hand, while researching the viability of painting on matte medium, I came across some artists who say they actually PREFER working on a coat of matte medium over gesso because the paint doesn’t get absorbed into surface as much when you use medium. Food for thought…

Second Mayowa Nicholas Study

Digital Art, Portraits
©2019, Emma Pittson, “Mayowa Nicholas Face Study II”. Photoshop.

Another digital portrait from last year (or maybe even earlier!) that I’m only posting now (woops!). This is not the first time I’ve painted this model. What can I say? The proportions of her face just seem so mathematically perfect to me!

I really miss doing portraits. I am this close to putting the call out on Facebook or Instagram asking for people to send me pictures of them just so I don’t have to fall back on self-portraits or pestering my immediate family to pose for me.

Struggling With Supplies

Landscape

Ever purchase some art supplies that fail to live up to the hype, or even sadly disappoint you? I had that experience just recently.

While stocking up on some stretched canvases, I decided to try a different brand. Royal & Langnickel stretched canvases came in economical packs of ten, and I thought “Well, my usual Omer Deserres are just fine, but maybe these are better?”, and, um… no.

I felt like I was trying to paint on burlap that had been given a generous coating of water repellent! Worst of all, I was also testing out a new set of Daler-Rowney water-miscible paints at the same time. How could I tell how the paint was behaving on such a lousy support?

©2021, Emma Pittson, “Tremblant in the Rain”. Oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″ x 0.5″.

And here is a close-up of the canvas texture, just for fun. Smooth as a baby’s bottom, no?

Ah well, at least I’m happy with how the image turned out! I had started a second painting at the same time, and because I had only put down a value study in acrylics, I gave that canvas a few coats of matte medium in hopes that it would kind of “fill in the holes” – but I think it was only moderately successful. As a final attempt to salvage my investment (and I say that with tongue firmly in cheek because I am a total cheapskate), I slapped two more coats of gesso on two unused canvases. I don’t know if I feeling brave enough anytime soon to give those a whirl, but if they ALSO turn out to be failures, then it looks like my kids are going to inherit a whole bunch of stretched canvases, whether they like it or not! 😉

Tremblant Sunset

acrylic, Landscape
©2021, Emma Pittson, “Tremblant Sunset”. Acrylic on canvas, 10″ x 8″ x 0.5″.

And I’m right back to that same spot on the shores of Lac Monroe that I love so much! I could paint a million variations of this one view, which is very convenient because I happened to take a metric ton of photos while I was there, so I have reference material for quite some time to come. Last summer’s visit was particularly important because it was our first outing since the beginning of the Pandemic. We were so happy to get out of the city, and so cognizant of the fact that it was probably going to be our only getaway for some time.

Two things I learned with this painting: 1) painting clouds is more challenging than you’d think, and 2) DO NOT rush into overlaying those clouds until you are completely happy with the gradation of the sky behind them. I might tweak a spot or two later on, but for now, I consider this piece done.

Freckles!

Digital Art, Portraits
©2020, Emma Pittson, “Portrait of Salem Mitchell”. Artrage.

I experimented with a new (well, new to me) digital art software last year called ArtRage. It styles itself as a “natural” painting software, which I guess means that they don’t over-burden the program with all kinds of photo editing doodads and just keep to the essentials. ArtRage also limits their brushes to only a few wet and dry media, palette knives and the like, so if you’re new to digital art, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. Best of all, they make very believable visible brush strokes, which is what first drew me to the software. Oh, and the price is very affordable – always a good thing! I had an easier time negotiating the colour palette in Artrage in comparison with Photoshop, but blending turned out to be a little difficult (but then, maybe I just haven’t experimented with it enough).

When I made this, I was trying to get away from working from images found on the internet, but Salem Mitchell has such glorious freckles that I couldn’t resist!