Saturday, March 29, 2008

Charcoal and cowboys

Charcoal on mi-tientes
copyright Jeanette Jobson

This was one of the images in the Weekend Drawing Event at WetCanvas. The pose and the face was irresistable and I hope to do a full portrait from the image at a later date.

I'm still using up my Mi-Tientes paper and am starting to enjoy some of the lighter colours - buff and gold, even if my preferences are for the darker browns and greys.

I use a mix of willow and vine charcoal as well as charcoal pencil for finer details. Depending on the effect (and how much time I have) I may blend some areas for smoother areas, but in this case I've left most of it fairly rough.

I keep thinking about making my own charcoal. There are always pieces of charred wood left over from fires used to burn off tree limbs and clear ground, but I haven't played with them much. Once the weather warms up, I think I'll try my hand at making some. I have about 20 willow trees ringing the perimeter of the garden as well as three grape vines in the greenhouse, so finding suitable material isn't a problem. Just not reducing it to ash is the challenge.

Meanwhile, here is a great tutorial on how to make your own charcoal for the adventurous!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Little Heart's Ease
Oils 5 x 7
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Varnishing oil or acrylic paintings always seems to cause angst in people, me included. Why varnish, when to varnish, how dry is dry in oil painting, which varnish to use, how to apply it, etc., all provide confusion for artists.

I have put the finishing touches on this little painting for the exhibition on Sunday and tested it in a new frame today. For some reason, I can't get a decent photo of this painting, likely because the light was fading as I photographed it and I didn't want to chance the scanner at this point. The paint surface is dry to the touch and I wonder about varnish. I may get away with a retouch varnish and then an offer to do a full varnish in a few of months, when the paint is thoroughly dry, but it is recommended that even a retouch varnish is not used until the painting dries for a month.

My concern comes with the fact that if applied too soon, even the retouch varnish may mix with the paint itself. My other recourse - and I don't have the luxury of time - is to speed up the drying process. I am doing this with heat and the painting is now propped up before the woodstove with the blower on so that the paint surface has a chance to really dry before I try the retouch varnish tomorrow.

So why am I leaving this so late? This painting was a last minute fixer upper. I'd played around with a base coat for this a few months ago, then resurrected it last week to put it into the show on Sunday. By Easter Sunday I had to provide entry details and I gave those of this oil. Yes, I guess I could have eliminated it, but figured I could pull it off.

Varnish serves a couple of purposes for oils or acrylic paintings. It gives a protective coating for the paint surface against the environment and also brings out the colours in duller areas, brightening them.

Trueart gives some good information on the types of varnishes and their application as well as recipes for creating your own varnish.

Sanders Studios provides a great source on mediums, drying oils, resins, siccatives and diluents.

The Gamblin Newsletter from October 2003 is looks into the history of varnishing as well as the how to's.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Art forms


Creation of art takes many forms and I've often dabbled in most forms. Jewelry is one of those things that I like to play with and I've been creating some organic shapes in various wires lately. I don't start out with a pattern or idea as each piece is unique and no two are alike, even with earrings which are similar, but not identical.

Here is a pair of earrings created in steel and copper with sterling silver ear wires. All pieces are handmade. The photo was taken in artificial light and doesn't do them justice. They have a much brighter sheen in reality. The length of the earrings is approximately 2 inches, not including the ear wire.

There is something satisfying about creating your own work and knowing that it is unique. I make these available in small quantities to others who are interested in owning a unique, natural product. More designs, including organic materials such as natural stones and sea glass, are being developed and will be available in the near future.

Prices are reasonable for these earrings at just $10.00. Shipping within Canada is $2.00, the USA is $3.00 and $4.50 for international delivery. I believe that part of making art is to share it and use it. Making it inaccessible through pricing defeats that purpose. Pricing of course reflects materials used and semiprecious stones, when used, are more expensive than natural local stone. Packaging for these pieces will be recycled where possible in degradable materials, but beautiful as well. There is always beauty in simplicity.

Tonight I watched a news story about a huge piece of ice the size of the city of Montreal shearing loose in the Arctic. Global warming is a reality, as is our use of natural resources to make unnatural products. While sounding a bit like Revelations here, I believe there will come a time when these resources won't be available. Power and fuel will be scarce as food is in some parts of the world now and we will wonder what we've done to the world.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Advertising and farm life

Value Study - Tripod
copyright Jeanette Jobson


Tripod, the cat who should be out guarding the barn against predators assumes his usual level of vigilance on any available lap.

Lately I've had a few requests from companies asking to put paid advertising on my blog. I find this a little surprising as my blog doesn't generate high traffic, averaging 60 -70 people a day. I know very little about advertising and its impact so I won't even begin to speculate on the reasons why my blog was selected. Perhaps luck of the draw or perhaps there was a specific genre of blogs that were being researched.

I haven't succumbed to the lure of paid advertising for my blog but it made me wonder...So why are advertisers targeting blogs?

Robin Good in Online Advertising Strategies: Why Is Best To Invest In Blogs Rather Than On Large Traffic Sites

1. Your message is more visible.

2. Your message has greater viral potential (there are more referrers and linkers among bloggers)

3. Your message is more relevant by being highly contextual to the content of the blog you have selected (more niche equals more selling power)

4. Your message stands out more (no flooding of ads or genres)

5. Your message is less prone to go unnoticed (by displaying it in many blogs vs. displaying it only on one site)

I have however, agreed for Antidull to use one of my images in the next issue of their online magazine in return for a text link to their sponsor. Am I selling out? No, I don' t think so. I'm just gaining exposure in the least invasive way for myself and my blog readers. A large part of art is in sharing your view of the world with others. This is one way of doing it.

Today a mink was found in the barn (again) and it had killed four Khaki Campbell ducks and attacked most of the others before it was found and shot. I know animals are acting on instinct, but I sure do hate mink. Coyotes aren't high on my list either...

I guess I can only be happy that it didn't find its way upstairs in the barn to the 100 week old chicks under heat lamps there. Yes, we did have Easter chicks - the real thing - purely by accident. The feed store had ordered half a box of day old chicks for a children's Easter display, but had been sent 3 boxes instead. They were looking for a home for the chicks at the end of the day and were selling them at a very reduced rate. Well, you know the rest. These are broiler chicks which are designated for the food market.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Easter Bunny II
Charcoal on Mi-Tientes 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I like my forays into oil but dry media always calls me back. Especially in the wee hours of the morning when sleep evades me. The little ceramic rabbit was still sitting on the table so at 5am, I drew it again.

Its an interesting process to draw the same subject over and over. Each time I see new things or notice subtle changes in light and shadow that I didn't notice before. Yes, the lighting has changed, but the subtleties are always there. I may try it again in coloured pencil next. Creating white using everything but white is such fun to do.

I'm enjoying using charcoal on toned paper and I must haul out some other hand made coloured papers in my art cupboard and see how they perform. I will also buy some other toned papers for charcoal when I get a chance. I'll be in Toronto and Ottawa in May and hope to do some stocking up then.