Sunday, July 22, 2012


My Fastmatte Palette
This summer, I am field testing a set of colors from Gamblin called FASTMATTE, made with Alkyd resin and linseed oil.  Why?  Well, when my sap green takes a week to dry in Hawaii, I know that change needed.  At the very least, a little medium added to my oils.  But what if I go even farther and use alkyd-based paints?  They would be compatible with my oils, yet dry faster.  I could slow the drying if I want.  I can change the surface quality by using a varnish, if I want.  And it would be nice to try something that dries a little faster when I am travelling.

So, why not go to Acrylic?  That dries too fast for me.  I like to push one color into another, wet into wet.  I have watched acrylic painters struggle with drying on their palette, and I don't want any part of that.  For me, the obvious choice is to try an alkyd.

It isn't that big a step.  I almost always travel with an alkyd white.  Most paint manufacturers make this with a mixture of drying oil and alkyd resin, in some undisclosed balance.  The alkyd white assists most of my colors in drying just a little faster than they might with a white made only with oil.  Since Gamblin, who makes most of the oil colors I use, came out this year with a full line of alkyd paints, it seems only reasonable to give them a try.

Oregon Coast, rainy weather, 50 degrees.

Okay, I'm not really giving it a rainy weather test here.  It is pouring outside and windy.  I am sitting in my van with the sliding door open, painting in/outdoors.  Plenty of humidity, but I have heated up the van interior, so it is probably 68 in here.

The medium I am using is 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol.  I use it in small amounts to thin the paint on my palette.  Most of the colors come out of the tube in a relatively thick paste, pushing me to use more medium than I ordinarily do.  Paint consistency is largely a matter of preference.  Mine leans toward the butter on a warm day.  I particularly dislike peanut butter consistency, and a couple of these colors approach that.  The medium thins them just fine.

I am happily painting along when I discover that the more medium I use, the faster the paint becomes planted on the palette.  It reminds me of building sand castles.  You know how you take your bucket down to the waves, fill it with a mix of water and sand, and carry it back to the castle?  You can then dribble sand on the castle all you want, and it will remain semi-liquid.  But the minute that sand hits the mass of sand you are building on, all the fluidity goes out of it, and you are left with dry-ish sand that you can only move if you add more water.  Clearly, I am going to have to make some adjustments, either to how I paint, or to the medium, if I want to be able to push my colors around.  Next field test, I will try a different medium.

FASTMATTE with 50/50 Galkyd/Gamsol:
Fast drying?  Yes, very.  Matte?  Yes, very.  Colors push into other colors?  Only when I am very quick.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Blackberry Blooms on the Bend
8 x 6
June, 2012  Cedaroak Boat Ramp
Cottonwood seed drifts through the air along the riverbank, showing the direction of the wind as surely as the telltale of a sailboat.  I breathe in at the wrong time, taking in a chunk of fuzz.  Coughs, sneezes, and my head clears.  I notice the sounds of the park: waves, boat motors, birds, a guitar.   A chainsaw.  The tranquility is easily broken.  I tune my attention to the visual, the movement of the water and the glow on the bushes.  Tranquility returns.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Summer Sea Clouds
8 x 6
June 2012,

When I wrote the title for this painting, I was reminded of the line "summer sea foam."  Suddenly a song runs through my head: Walk, shepherdess walk....straight from the Girl Scout sing-alongs of my childhood.  Every once in a while someone says something to me and song lyrics pop into my head.  I think it's my brain saying,  "See?  I can still remember stuff."  My response:  "Yeah, but not when I want you to."  I do a google search on summer sea foam.  I get summer dresses in seafoam green.  No summer sea foam in the painting, so back to the clouds.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Cloudy Overlook
12 x 9
June, 2012
This is a viewpoint I've visited often, painted often.  Yet each time I paint here, the painting is different.  I look in a new direction.  I zoom in or out.  The weather changes, or I change.  Point of view is as much within as without.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Indian Beach
8 x 6
Surfers come up and down the hill from the beach.  They are fortified for the cold water in wetsuits and hoods, looking quite seal-like as they sit atop their boards.  In this getup, the rain matters not at all.  When I arrive, they are clustered behind the break at the center of the beach.  They all seem to agree on where the best waves are, and when the tide shifts, they shift together, with the synchronicity of a flock of birds.