All I can say is WOW with the craftsmanship and quality of these handmade books by Rich Troncone. Man, I love this guy is all I can say. I wanted a book that I could use as a journal and write in it with my fountain pen. I've used Moleskines in the past, but the problem is that my fountain pen bleeds through the pages of a moleskine so I reached out to my friend Rich and he created these masterpieces for me. Check out his website: http://www.richtroncone.com
Much love to Rich Troncone, glad to call him a friend.
I got to try out my Jullian en plein air umbrella today with all this beautiful sunlight. I used the umbrella with my Mabef field easel and it worked beautifully. It really made it easier to gauge my colors on my palette and on the painting. What I really like about it is that it's white so it doesn't completely block out the sun. It's also not too small nor too large. If you're a plein air painter, then I highly recommend that you pick one up.
I look forward to using it a lot more as our flowers grow and I paint all summer long.
As with many artists, I'm obsessed with the surface quality of my paintings and discovering new products. I've recently conducted some varnish experiments as I continually search for materials that work for me. Before discusses each varnish, I first want to say that each of these products (and any products I talk about) may work for you, BUT you have to test them out to see.
So here's a breakdown of each varnish that I tested:
Dammar varnish - Very traditional varnish with suspected conditional issues such as yellowing with age. Conservators suggest you wait 6-12 months before you varnish with dammar, but I rarely wait that long before using dammar. That could come back to hurt my paintings, but maybe in 100 years or so...
Dammar is very sticky to apply and starts to tack up very quickly. I've heard you can warm up the dammar in a double boiler before you apply it to make it more spreadable, but I've personally never done that so I'm not sure if it works.
I used two coats of dammar (waiting 24 hours in between for the first layer to dry) and the painting was beautifully shiny. Like I said though, the longevity of the varnish scares me a little. Keep in mind also that dammar is mixed with turpentine so the smell might irritate some people (I personally like the smell).
Gamvar - Gamvar is a pretty amazing product and I've discussed it in past posts. The main thing I like about Gamvar is the fact that you don't have to wait to apply it. Gamblin suggests that you only need to wait until the painting is "...dry to the touch and firm in the thickest areas...that may be two weeks, for others, 2 months." That's a pretty amazing thing.
The downside to Gamvar that I've noticed is the fact that it took me 3 coats to reach a level of gloss that I liked. For some works, I would apply the first coat and it would look great, and then it would sink in. This didn't happen to all the paintings and one of my paintings looked great after the first application. Applying more than one coat is never too much of a headache though.
With all the varnishes, I prefer to apply several thin coats instead of 1 thick coat. I've always heard this is the best. The other thing I love about Gamvar is that it's super easy to apply and doesn't tack up right away.
CPC UVS Finishing Varnish - The final varnish I want to discuss is Conservator's Products Company's UVS Finishing Varnish. This is the varnish that I have the least experience with, but I want to discuss what I know about it.
The first thing about this varnish is that it has to be specially ordered from CPC's website. You give them your address and which product you want and then they email you to confirm, then they ship it to you and then you mail them a check within 30 days of receiving the products (old school). This has a certain charm to it, which I like, but not everyone may like the extra steps involved.
They're located in NJ and so am I so I received the product the very next day. The varnish comes with instructions and you get two separate containers, one of them is a quart sized metal container and the second is a little bottle with a dropper top. The varnish needs to be mixed in small amounts before you apply it with a certain ratio. I like the way the varnish looks, but it isn't glossy enough for me and it doesn't say if you can do multiple coats (which I'm guessing you can) so I would have to ask the company.
Overall, it's a good varnish and gives a surface kind of similar to the Gamvar.
So, what's my final opinion-- I like the Gamvar a lot because I can use it once the painting is semi-dry, it's easy to apply and I like the surface quality that it gives, but I may change my opinion as I continue on my journey..
I got back recently from a life changing trip to see my best friend, Pino. He lives in Chicago and the last time I visited him was the summer of 2017. This time around, we jam packed the trip from start to finish with rock climbing, camping, painting and even skydiving. I mostly wanted to talk about how life changing the skydiving experience was at a place in Wisconsin called, Skydive Midwest, but I also wanted to briefly talk about two paintings that I did while in camping.
The first painting was a plein air landscape that I did near a stream in Illinois. I was using Pino's acrylic paints and some cheap canvas that we picked up from Blick the day before. I had about five colors that I used and I didn't have a palette so Pino found a heavy flat rock for me to use. So everything was very against me for making a "great" painting, but I didn't care about that, I just wanted to have fun and paint.
The painting turned out really well and the reason is because I didn't care about it being "perfect", I just wanted to have some fun. The other painting I did while Pino and I were staying in a super cool small cabin in a place called White Pines Resort. Again, I was using simple acrylic supplies and a luncheables box as a palette. The portrait came out beautifully and I learned that it's nice to have good quality supplies, but you can also do a great painting with cheap canvas and a rock palette.
For the skydiving, I first want to say how awesome the people at Skydive Midwest are. They're so cool and made us feel super excited to jump. Pino had jumped 3 times prior and this was my first time. We ended up having to go back to the place 3 times because of weather conditions and got to jump on the day that I flew back to NJ. The whole process from boarding the small plane to jumping to landing on the ground took about 25 minutes. On the plane ride up, everyone was high-fiving and cracking jokes. So then you're up 14,000 ft. and everyone is sitting with their tandem partner, then a big door opens on the side of the plane which was very surreal. My tandem partner (super cool Brazilian dude) and I edged close to the bay door. We sat with our legs hanging over the side of the plane and you could see the curvature of the earth, which was beautiful and very strange.
The next things is that my partner said "1...2...3..." and then we fell forwards straight down in a minute long free fall. I wish I could describe the feeling of that but it's honestly impossible. It's like the world is hurtling at you so fast and your brain sort of shuts off. It felt like a really long time and yet short. Then my partner pulled the chute and we drifted down in a spiral towards the runway. The parachute ride itself was really beautiful and you could see the whole world beneath your feet. My partner even let me steer the parachute for a while which was really awesome.
After having done the skydiving and the entire trip, I basically feel fearless and that everything "ain't no thang". I really needed this trip to help me find myself again. Thank you Pino <3