Friday, March 21, 2008

"Things don't always go smoothly" Or, "An attempt at a save"

Sometimes unexpected things happen when you are out painting. I had a string of curve balls thrown at me during the workshop. On the first day I broke my palette knife while mixing. Never had that happen before. It was my favorite knife that I had had for more than 25 years :(
I had another as back up in my paint box in case I lost one, but I never thought that I could BREAK one.
I also broke a brush handle while painting. I had never done that either.
On Wednesday I gave a jump start to someone with my car and when we went to go home mine would not start. I was able to find someone to jump us at least.
And so on.
The big bummer was when my open box m blew over while I had stepped away from a painting in progress to check on the students.


I was disappointed about the painting, but hey, you just have to roll with the punches.
I realized a few days later that the pochade box had split. Fixed that with some wood glue.

I had a pretty good start in the fifteen minutes or so of painting that I did get in, so it was worth trying to save this one in the studio.

A few of you asked to see a picture of a pre mixed palette along with a painting. Thanks for the request, I love hearing what you want to see.
I was thinking more of my class than the blog last week so I don't have many shots of the pre mixed palette to show you. Here is one, and I have one other that I will work into another post.
I will go out painting next week and I'll be sure to get a few photos of the pre mixed palette for you.

I sketched the main lines and masses of my design on the linen board and then began mixing up the main colors.

This is the palette with most of the block in colors mixed.

What the painting looked like after I wiped the dirt off. I wiped the upper third while wet because there was just too much dirt to leave much of the paint. Then I rubbed the rest of the dirt off after the paint had dried. It is usually best to wait until the painting has dried before trying to get off any dirt that has blown onto a wet painting.

"Trees and Fields", 6" x 8" oil on linen, 2008
Private Collection

This was finished in the studio yesterday. I would have preferred to finish it on site, but after if blew over, I could not continue painting on it. I had roughed in a horse that I decided to paint out. I'll have to save that idea for another painting. It was drawing too much attention, and I felt locked into that lower left corner. I was more interested with the fields and trees leading into the distance.


Todd Bonita said...

Frank, you have one of my favorite blogs on the web..I bounced over to tell you I was in stitches laughing after reading your comments about the "Giant Key" painting on my blog...I showed my wife and she got a kick out of it. Anyway, I find myself spending way to much time reading your blog..really well done my man. I'm getting some cool tips here and finding that your Mexico is a beautiful place and an awesome location to be a plein air painter. All the best bud.

Be good,

Barbara Pask said...

Wow Frank, you saved your painting and it looks great. What a crazy week for you, I had my easel fall over it my studio the other day and my paint palette landed face down on cream carpet. Murphys oil soap saved the day, great stuff. Your paintings are always so soft, do you gray down all of your colors? Barb

Elizabeth said...

Hope you have a peaceful Easter after all your various disasters.
All best wishes.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Todd. I'm glad that you got a kick out of that.
Thanks for the compliments. That really means a lot to me.

Frank Gardner said...

Barb, thanks. regular bar soap, like ivory, takes paint out too.
I would not say that all of my colors are "grayed". But mixing with a limited palette keeps the colors harmonious.
There seems to be some interest, so I will try and write more on my color mixing.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Elizabeth, same to you and your husband.
I would not call them disasters. More like colorful distractions. Stuff like that keeps life from getting too dull.

Anonymous said...

The painting turned out well, after all, huh? But I really sympathize about the knife. I hate when that happens.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks A!
And thanks for your condolences on the knife. My others just don't have the same feel as that one did.

Colin Page said...

Wow Frank,

You fit a whole year's worth of mishaps into one week. I've only had my easel flip twice from wind, both times lost the painting and the palette landed upside down.

Also, the paintings from the previous post, of the stations of the cross, are great. I think they are really interesting paintings. And I can certainly sympathize with being bad about documenting work.

Terry Rafferty said...

Wonderful to see your work in various stages, and your palette as well. So hard to lose an old friend like your palette knife, new tools are never the same. My condolences.
Ivory soap, Murphy's oil and a product called Zout (maybe not available to you in Mexico) all work for those "colorful distractions" - last week my cad. yellow loaded paintbrush went flying, getting my jeans and chair. Too lazy to deal with immediately, but Zout got the paint out even after it was dry....
Happy Easter to all -

mike rooney said...

i havent been so excited about a technique in a long time! the premixed palette has got me going. i've always mixed "on the fly" but you got me stoked to try the premixed thing. i did a painting after premixing. its like this way your dealing with one thing at a time (which outdoors is a big plus). you deal with hue, value, saturation on surface (palette) way less complex than the canvas which calms the choas a little. once that is done you can fire off and PAINT, not having to worry about whether the color is accurate. wow! but i did on a small studio piece as practice instead of plein air where i am 95% of the time. More, More, More on this premixed palette i beg of you!
love your blog, man and youre a born teacher....
ps the piece is called boogie boarders (if you like beachscapes) on my blog at if you want to see it.
many thanks....

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Good post: - been there, done that, and have the marks on the carpet to prove it.....happy easter!

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--too bad about that palette knife--you wielded it like a wizard. Hope you can replace it. I have tried to find a knife like yours up here to no avail. The one I have is too thin. If you get another, let me know the source, OK? I am getting a kick out of these disaster stories. I had a heavily loaded painting blow off the easel right on to my shirt. What I had was a T shirt with a mirror image imprinted on it--an original art T shirt!
By all means, keep the mixing seminar going. You're on to something that seems important to everyone, myself included. Jack

Nancy Standlee said...

I saw mention of your blog through Daily Painters and love your SMA paintings and photos. I live in TX and have just returned from a watercolor workshop in SMA - my first visit. I plan to do a few small paintings from my photos and realize I'm not a plein air painter. I wish I'd visited your gallery - maybe next visit. I loved the painting of the woman and doves.

mike rooney said...

sorry frank
(typo on previous post)

Ed Terpening said...

Look at the bright-side, your mishaps were also a lesson to your workshop students: things go wrong, don't give up, keep going. That's a valuable lesson, too.

Jennifer said...

Hi Frank-- And I'd add to the comment above that it's good to be resilient. Sounds like you are! :-)

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Colin. I lost all of the paint on the palette too. Glad I was on a dirt area not fancy stonework or something.

Terry,I'll have to look for Zout on line. The truth is that I just have paint clothes and non paint clothes. My studio floor is cement and rubber pads, so it is built to be stained. Thanks for checking in.

Mike, I am glad that you gave this method a try. I had not been on your blog in a week or two, but had seen the boogie boarders. I went back over to check it out again.
You are right about some of the advantages in mixing like this. It takes a little practice. I will work up some new posts on pre mixing.

Hi Julie, thanks.

Jack, You know, The backup knives are just not the same as that one. These flex just a little more than the old one. I am sure I will get used to it.
I remember the day, a few years ago, when we went down to San Miguel Viejo to paint and I asked you if you would be up for being my guinea pig, and give this exercise a test run. I think we did 15 minutes of mixing and 15 of painting.

Hello Nancy, thanks for visiting my blog. Photos are fine. Painting outside helps to see acurate color though.

Ed, you got that right, and that is why I posted about the mishaps too. You have to be flexible and just go with it. Can't cry over spilt paint.

Hi Jennifer, yes, resilient!
I try.

Thanks everyone for all of the positive comments! I will post more on pre mixing. These posts take a little longer to write, so I may post a thing or two in between.

Terry Rafferty said...

Frank, you have paint clothes and NON-paint clothes? I swear anything new that goes into my closet sneaks over to my paintbox.... one of my favorite quotes (sadly I don't know from whom) is "I have 2 sets of clothes: those that have paint on them and those that will."

Frank Gardner said...

I agree with that quote, whoever said it.
I seem to get a little paint on whatever I have on.
Most of my stuff ends up with paint on it eventually.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I was expecting a disaster but it turned into a great save.
I may have mentioned this before, but I have begun doing the same as you are doing so I don't waste time and make a bunch of bungles before I get going :(
Just looking at your palette I see sky, grass, trees and sand.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Mary, I don't think that you had mentioned that. Great.

Anonymous said...

That's the same palette knife i use, and i love it

Frank Gardner said...

That shape knife is the best for mixing.
This one was my favorite. RIP.
The back up is not bad, but the others I have are a little soft. Too much flex.

Anonymous said...

I find that. Same size, and they're flimsier. (izzat a word?!)
The newer ones, I mean. Hard to find replacements.

Perhaps I will show mine and see if anyone knows a decent replacement.

You can't just shop on line and hope for a proper description, you have to touch them...and they always change...

Anonymous said...

"Palette with...block in colors mixed," makes perfect sense to me.

Frank Gardner said...

I find the same thing with the knives A.
You need to feel them to judge the flex. Can't do it on line.

having the block in colors mixed frees you up to just paint.