Record October Rains Helped Me Paint This

I love my art-making process – it’s my favorite part of being an artist. And, I’ve worked for more than 12 years now to hone the processes I use to make art.

We had record October rain here in Portland. I thought alot about my process as the rain came down and I painted several new originals for my Pacific Rains Series. You might have noticed that I now mount my original paintings onto “cradled” wood panels. I love both the process and the finished result and have shared snapshots of both below.

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After mounting my paper “canvas” onto panel, I’m ready to trim the edges.
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“Through The Forest”, oil and metallic watercolor, 30 x 30 inches, SOLD.

All original paintings on my website are mounted on panel like this with crisp, finished
edges. Check out what’s available to add to your collection
by clicking here ==> www.davidcastleart.com.

Winter Aspens: Making Oil and Watercolor Mix

I’m continuing my quest to master mixing oil and watercolors successfully and just might have a new series emerging: winter aspens. Or winter birch. I’m a bit torn since I love the aspen trees of my native Colorado in winter, but also love the birch found in the Pacific Northwest where I’ve spent many months painting in the winter over the last decade (and now live).

Here are two of my most recent winter trees – layers of oil paint (I use oil sticks such as Winsor & Newton Oilbars), followed by layers of watercolor paint (some traditional paints along with my own mix of metallic pigment powders).  At just the right time, I scrape the tree shapes out with an old favorite tool: pieces of cut up credit cards.

I’m loving these early results… what do you think?

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“Winter Aspens No. 3” and “Winter Aspens No. 5”, oil and metallic watercolor, 12 x 12 inches, $350.

Daniel Smith Continues Breaking My Heart…

As a followup to my last post about my crumbling love affair with Daniel Smith paints, I’m sad to say that Daniel Smith has definitely discontinued their entire acrylic paint line.  I’ve primarily used Daniel Smith acrylic paints (along with their watercolor paints) since the “beginning” for me over 10 years ago.  The last time I visited their website to order acrylic, I noticed all of them appearing on web pages that contained “discontinued” in the title.

My acrylic drawer filled with now obsolete Daniel Smith Acrylics.
My acrylic drawer filled with now obsolete Daniel Smith Acrylics.

Well, after a few emails to them, I was told they were discontinued, but they failed to respond with any additional info.  I couldn’t even find an official note from them to their customers and fans (lovers) to explain the what, why, when, etc.

I guess I could go on and on about my breaking heart, but seems I should just move on and start filling up my acrylic drawer with paints that are going to stay around!

Daniel Smith Is Breaking My Heart: The First Time

I’ve long been a huge fan of Daniel Smith paints – so many reasons to love: made in the USA, ultra-fine quality, superb colors… I’ve really been in love since the beginning of my professional art career with my first big order in 2002 of watercolors and acrylics.  I’ve even written several blog posts describing my love, including this post titled “I Heart Daniel Smith” here.

Well, I guess with any such love affair lasting over a decade, there’s bound to be some heartache.  And lately, Daniel Smith is just plain breaking my heart!

Daniel Smith Silver Metallic Watercolor Pigment... now "vintage".
Daniel Smith Silver Metallic Watercolor Pigment… now “vintage”.

I recently discovered that Daniel Smith discontinued one of my favorite products — metallic watercolor dry pigments.  And I’m completely devastated.  Dramatic?  Sure, but I use a variety of metallic paints in most of my paintings – almost all exclusively Daniel Smith products.

I’ve stocked all of the metallic watercolor pigment colors (silver, pale gold, Egyptian gold, copper…) in my studio and have actually been using them rather sparingly over the past several years.  So, now that I’ve started a new Metallic Squares series which requires heavy use of the Daniel Smith metallic watercolor pigments, I went to http://www.danielsmith.com to order up a bunch, only to discover they aren’t anywhere to be found.  But, oh joy, in an email exchange with one of their Sales people, I was told I could special order the metallic watercolor pigments by the pound, and would I like a price quote?  After putting my heart back in my chest, I replied “absolutely”!

Metallic Squares for my latest watercolor painting series.
Metallic Squares for my latest watercolor painting series.

The next email from Daniel Smith was the first “Dear John” from them.  Apparently after checking with their production team, the Sales person informed me that they had been discontinued “a long time ago” and were no longer available.

Now heartbroken, I’m not sure if I should pursue my love any further with Daniel Smith?  Or should I put my heart back out there with a Canadian lead I have for a new love?

Snip, Snip… Claudia is Ready for Canvas

Well, it took more than a “snip”, but “Claudia’s Jewels” is now cut into 3 pieces and ready to be mounted on my stretched canvas panels.  This painting is on 300lb. watercolor paper, so it’s a bit tough to cut through.  I clamp my straightedge down and use a utility knife (with a fresh blade!) and carefully go for it.

I plan to mount the 3 pieces onto canvas tomorrow, unless the snowstorm we’re promised hits and I don’t make it in!

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My latest "jewels" painting (about 44 x 45 inches), cut into 3 for mounting onto stretched canvas panels.

Re-discovering My Scraped Cityscapes

I’ve been busy in my studio lately working on “re-discovering” my feel and technique for mini cityscapes that I once painted many years ago.  The technique for creating these mini paintings is a combo of wash, timing, perspective and a quick hand with scraping shapes.

I first lay down a wash that will give me some good contrasts in the shapes I’ll scrape out while also providing an overall mood to the painting (night/day, winter, foggy, Chicago or New York…).  These go quickly since I have a short time before the wash becomes too dry to successfully scrape shapes.

I’m having a more difficult time re-discovering how to paint these with results I’m happy with than I expected.  Most frustrating seems to be that the pieces of  rigid plastic (like cut-up credit cards… take THAT Chase Bank!) aren’t scraping satisfactorily.  And, it has taken many tries to remember what paper is best (I like 140lb. Fabriano hotpress).  At least in this example, the John Hancock tower is recognizable and I love the rather monotone feel I captured for Chicago (uh, I LOVE Chicago – “monotone” isn’t a bad thing).

What do you think?

Chicagoscape, watercolor, 6 x 6 inches.
Chicagoscape, watercolor, 5 x 5 inches.

I “heart” Daniel Smith…

Well, at least I love Daniel Smith watercolor paints!  Being at the One of a Kind Exhibit in Chicago this past week reminded me of one of the questions I get asked most often, whether in my studio or at an opening or exhibit: “How do I get metallics into my original paintings?”.

Well, Daniel Smith is how.  I think that many people instinctively realize that I’m far from a traditional watercolor painter when they see my originals – just look at my abstract subjects, my unique techniques and my mounted-on-canvas presentation.  And then there are the metallics that I use both subtley and vividly in many of my paintings.  Much of what I do and how I do it is frowned upon by traditional watercolorists.

I’d guess that over 75% of my most-used watercolor paints are Daniel Smith.  His paints are very high quality and his factory colors, including his line of metallic paints, really push the edge.  One of the quirky things I like to list periodically in my studio journal is my current favorite factory colors (colors that are mixed by the factory and come out of the tube ready for direct application or mixing with other colors).  Daniel Smith paints, particularly a few metallic colors, consistently show up on my list, no matter how often I list my current favorite colors.  Here are the top 8 Daniel Smith colors that have been on my lists for several years now (see some sample paintings below):

  • Daniel Smith Moonglow
  • Daniel Smith Indanthrone Blue
  • Daniel Smith Deep Scarlet
  • Daniel Smith Iridescent Copper
  • Daniel Smith Iridescent Sunstone
  • Daniel Smith Undersea Green
  • Daniel Smith Raw Umber Violet
  • Daniel Smith Iridescent Jade

If you are a painter, you simply must try Daniel Smith metallic paints – they are available online at www.DanielSmith.com

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Detail from “e19”, using Iridescent Sunstone, Goldstone, Copper and Moonglow paints.

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“f37”, using Moonglow, Iridescent Copper, Deep Scarlet and Raw Umber Violet paints.