Monthly Archives: May 2017

Tips for Choosing the Right Lighting for Your Art Studio

You found the perfect spot to make art but the lighting, well, isn’t all that enlightening. Maybe, you enjoy painting at night or on gloomy days but you need brightness to truly see your process unfold.

Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to illuminating your creative space. Artist Koo Schadler shines some light on how to choose the right art studio lighting.

Let There Be Light … In Your Art Studio

Natural light, often referred to as full-spectrum light, is generally considered the best illumination to work under. Unfortunately, the term “full-spectrum lighting” has no fixed definition.

The phrase is used by the lighting industry to denote bulbs that mimic the properties of sunlight, but some bulbs designated this way perform better than others.

What to Look For

The color-rendering index (CRI) indicates a light’s ability to illuminate color accurately. The sun has a CRI of 100. Bulbs with a CRI of 80 to 100 are best at revealing vibrant, natural hues.

The correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in Kelvin, refers to how warm or cool a light appears. Too warm a bulb may tint work reddish yellow, whereas too cool of a light can turn things blue.

For a good balance of warmth and coolness, look for bulbs with a CCT of 5500 K, the equivalent of the midday sun. If you prefer cooler light, akin to north light, look for bulbs rated 7500 K.

Luminosity or brightness is also important to consider. The formulas for measuring brightness are complicated. Suffice to say that you want as many fixtures as needed to give yourself ample illumination.

This may sound obvious, yet I’ve been in many under-illuminated studios that just needed another fixture or two to remedy the problem.

Where to Buy

Many hardware stores sell fluorescent bulbs with good CRI and CCT numbers (read the packaging carefully). I’ve seen 80 CRI/5500 CCT compact fluorescents for as little as $3 a bulb. Online stores sell bulbs as well, but shop around, as prices vary tremendously.

Make sure the bulb you buy is compatible with your existing fixtures. Rows of fluorescent tube ceiling lights provide good luminosity but are costly.

A more affordable option is to install strips of track lighting that can be plugged into existing outlets and outfitted with screw-in, compact fluorescents. I recommend you employ an experienced electrician for any electrical work.

Do This To Achieve a realistic eye painting

Portrait Art That Is Realistic and Compelling Starts Here

Have you ever paid attention to how body language expresses an unspoken language? It’s fascinating how even minor movements can send a message of tension, flirtation, or annoyance. While some of this comes from subtle hand gestures or posture, much of it comes from the “windows to the soul”–the eyes.

Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen by Frans Hals. “The eyes are the single most important feature in a portrait,” says painting instructor Luana Luconi Winner. “Take time to resolve the eyes’ true character, and the subject of the portrait will be unquestionably recognized.” Article contributions by Cherie Haas.

Think Like a Sculptor

Try this exercise in thinking like a sculptor from portrait artist Luana Luconi Winner. Start by considering your work in terms of planes. Imagine starting with a large mass and carving away everything that doesn’t relate to the shape of the head. Then carve the largest planes into this head-shape, indicating where the form sits in the shadow. The cavities of the eye sockets, nostrils, ears, and corners of the mouth should be deep enough to maintain the shadow and yet describe the most general of shapes. Next, chip away the smaller planes, indicating more subtle changes of planar direction. These planes create movements of form in the mid-values. The final touches help activate highlights.

Paint Like a Sculptor

When you paint like a sculptor, you go from the general to the specific. You apply the paint as broadly as if you were a sculptor creating the shapes. First you mass in the shadows, allowing them to connect on the dark side of the form. Next you develop the mid-values, taking care with the direction and placement of your strokes as you turn them in and out of the form. Then you refine the details with touches that reinforce the direction of light and, finally, you drop in the highlights.

Look Into the Eyes

1. Establish the blueprint

With a relatively dry brush, draw a trapezoid into which you can build the eye socket. Use burnt sienna and ivory black to make a color similar to burnt umber. The color at this dry-sketch stage establishes the footprint where you’ll build the flat planes. Inside the socket, paint a circle for the eyeball. In the center of this circle, draw two concentric circles that look like the bull’s-eye of a target.

2. Add darks

Place a small arrow as a reminder of the direction of light (you can paint over the arrow later). Create a thin, dark mixture of burnt sienna and ivory black to drybrush inside the eye socket and on the shadow side of the eyeball.

3. Place mid-values

Fill the pupil with ivory black. Place a thin mixture of cobalt blue with a touch of ivory black in the iris, the colored part of the eye indicated by the middle circle. To simplify laying in the upper and lower lids, continue to use geometric shapes. Mix yellow ochre and alizarin crimson into the dark mixture described in step 2 and add a little white. Place a triangle of this mid-value skin-tone mixture on the shadow side of the eye on the upper and lower lids. Lighten the mixture with white and place two triangles on the upper and lower lids on the light side.

4. Blend skin and add eyebrows

Add yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, a touch of ivory black, and white to the mid-value mixture on the palette to create a realistic skin tone for the more lighted areas. Then add new planes to areas around the eye, including the forehead, cheekbone, and eye socket.

Add the eyebrow with ivory black, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. Use brisk strokes up and outward to “grow” the eyebrows.

5. Blend and soften

Blend and soften areas into one another so that the transitions between the shadow, mid-value, and light areas connect. Add warmth to the inner and outer corners of the eye with alizarin crimson and cadmium red at the tear duct (where the eyelids meet on the left).

Soften the depth of the darkest shadows by lightly feathering your brush over those areas with mid-value skin color. Make certain there’s a change in value to represent the shadow that the thickness of the eyelid casts on the eyeball.

6. Add highlights and appearance of moisture

Add highlights to the brow bone, the upper lid, the lower lid, and the cheekbone to further indicate the direction from which the light falls on the face. The only place in the demonstration where you may use pure white is a catchlight placed at the two o’clock position between the iris and the pupil. This catchlight is actually a reflection on the cornea, the clear coating over the iris and pupil. In this demonstration, the light hits the cornea (indicated by the catchlight), travels through the cornea in a straight path, and then lands at the seven o’clock position of the “eye circle.” The light then floods the surface of the iris in that area and lightens local color.

The indication of moisture in the eye will bring it to life, so add a touch of white to represent moisture on the lower lid where it meets the iris. In this demonstration, the direction of the light also creates a reduced-value highlight on the tear duct.

Soften the transitions, feather out edges and assess your progress. Reduce the depth of shadow in the socket to make this eye look less tired. Adjust highlights in small increments, blending along the brow bone and rounding out this bone from the shadow depths. Do the same for the zygomatic bone (the high cheekbone under the eye) blending outward and upward.

Easy on the Eyes

Learn the construction of the eye and its depth of placement in the eye socket, and you’ll achieve lively, moist-looking eyes with minimal trouble. Keep in mind that each step is simplified when you think in terms of planes and geometric shapes. If you are ready to take the next step in portrait art to paint equally lifelike ears, mouths and noses, get your copy of Beautiful Portrait Painting in Oils by Chris Saper. This is the resource that will carry you forward in portrait art with informative, fun and engaging ways to paint portraits you will be proud to call your own.

5 Reasons You Want To Try STABILO Today for Drawing

From brilliant colors to long-lasting cap-off times, there are tons of reasons why we love STABILO’s products, and why you will, too! Check out some of their art-filled tips and tricks below, and get ready to let loose, unleash some creativity and have fun during your next art project. Enjoy!

1. It’s Freeing

STABILO’s campaign for 2017 is “Free Your True Colors.” The campaign’s name is a call out to how can we be the most colorful, best version of ourselves, expressed through creativity and color.

Check out this Flippists video where he animates a colorful transformation in the Free Your True Colors spirit!

2. It’s Colorful

Their Point 88 Fineliners are available in more than 40 vibrant colors, making them one of the most colorful fineliner brands on the market. Here is a demonstration on how to create a beautiful butterfly using these handy tools!

3. It’s Flexible

Their CarbOthello Pastel pencils are incredibly blendable due to their chalky pigments. They can also be used like watercolor pencils because they respond instantly to a wet brush or predampened paper. Check out the video below for some fun tips and tricks for using CarbOthello.

4. It’s Creative

If you want another creative art tool to add to your arsenal then you should check out Pen 68, which can also be used as a watercolor. Just grab your waterbrush and give it a try!

5. It’s Old School (But Up with the New School Styles)

Did you know STABILO was established in 1855? It’s an 162-year-old company! Belows a quick snippet of the company’s interesting history.

Added bonus: Many of STABILO’s products, like the Point 88 Fineliners and Pen 68 Markers, have over a 24-hour cap-off time. Hooray for no more dry pens!

Do you use any STABILO products? Tell us your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below. Happy art-making, artists!

5 Tips to paint for success

This Way of Painting Works for Everyone

It’s exciting to start something new. It’s especially exciting when you succeed at something new. If you are a beginner painting for the first time or someone with more experience who is still trying to find the best way to express your creative side, alla prima painting is the way to go. It is a “jump right in, the water’s fine” approach to art. It is all about creating a work in one live session, working wet into wet. Time is up when the paint dries. Success comes when you step back and you’ve got a finished work of art. You will learn soooo much if you commit to the process and see it through. It’s an exciting way to work. Here’s how to make that happen.

1.Spend most of your time looking

You’ve got to give yourself permission to sit and absorb. Observe, settle your mind, and develop a very clear mental picture of your subject. That’s the first step for alla prima. Be thorough with your looking. Squint at your subject and observe the light and dark areas. Notice the middle values that exist between them. Still squinting, make note of the general color in these areas. Look for the warm and cool color relationships. If the subject is lit by north light, the light side of an object will be cooler than the dark side. Also pay attention to halation, or how the light values of the subject bleed into the darks and vice versa.

2.Big brush first and most

Apply paint with a large, soft brush in the beginning and gently soften most of your edges. Elaborate on the transitions between the light and dark values, pushing one color into another to obtain the proper edge. Gradually reduce the size of your brushes, painting smaller and smaller shapes and details.

3.Focus on your focus

Start at the focal point of your painting. Don’t save it for last–attack it! Block in the main areas and then work away. That’s not to say your focal point is the literal center of the work, but wherever it is–start there and build out.

4.Don’t lock your eyes to one spot

Staying light on your feet is what they say at the gym. Stay light with your eyes too. Don’t lock into one thing. Constantly compare your subject and try to match the colors as you see them. That means shifting your focus constantly.

5.Be purposeful and stick to your plan

For the best results with alla prima, it’s important to paint deliberately and methodically. That way you can keep the light and dark values from mixing together on the canvas to prevent muddy colors. Use intermediate colors between the values to create the transition from light to dark. I recommend writing down your approach. It will act like your set list, so that you can just refer back to it if you get caught up or confused.