Feather Brush, and Art Knockoffs on Amazon

When I worked as a theater set painter and faux finish artist, we used feather dusters for special effects. I wanted to use our cockatiels’ naturally moulted (shed) feathers to make a similar brush. They get new feathers every year, going thru several small moults between spring and fall so they’re never bald, LOL! Not sure if they replace EVERY feather on their body annually, but when I vacuum it seems like it! I’ve saved some of their feathers for a couple of years now.  The small pile of fine yellow and gray crest feathers are the most rare of those I save since many accidentally get vacuumed up before they’re noticed. I have not done anything with the crest feathers yet, but I made two paint brushes out of some of the bigger, stiff ones their wings and tails, and a medium sized feather that is softer but still has spring to it.

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Courtesy of our cockatiel companions, naturally moulted feathers saved up to make paint brushes.

Even though our birds lost these feathers naturally, it was still just a little creepy seeing them all laying on the table like that, like some horrific predatory aftermath…gah!

Experimented with them a little and think I need to make some looser, softer versions, as these are both quite stiff, but am sure I’ll find a use for them as soon as I get used to the type of marks they make. I have plenty of leftover feathers to experiment with.

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Experimenting…

ARTISTS’ WORK INCREASINGLY INFRINGED ON AMAZON

Many artists I know thru online groups, etc, are sending dozens, even hundreds, of DMCA takedowns per week, to Amazon alone, for infringements of their work. Difficulty getting Amazon to respond to valid takedowns makes the chore even more time consuming.

The issue is so bad it has been getting some press lately, like these articles from CNBC and Plagiarism Today:

Amazon counterfeiters wreak havoc on artists and small businesses

Amazon Has a Serious Copyright Problem

Painting and Gardening in 100+ degree weather

Work in Progress, for a show at Olney Gallery in September. 

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Large panel painting in progress

I finally committed to the idea I had for this large panel, but by the time I did, it was well over 100 every day. This past weekend it was around 114! Normally I don’t paint outside unless it’s under 90 because the paint just dries too fast and I wilt in extreme heat anyway. But, this needed to be done by late August and there’s almost no chance it’ll be good outdoor painting weather again before Oct.

So, when it “cooled off” to 106 today, I was out there spattering, glazing, dripping and slinging paint. I had a water spray bottle in one hand, which helped keep the paint wet long enough to get the runny effects. The paint dries instantly in this heat. The panel itself heated up so it was a little like painting on a frying pan. Artists who use oils and spray paints seem to take advantage of that. For acrylics it can be a real drawback but one just has to work with it, or wait for better days!

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Cooled off to 106 today, ran outside to paint before it passes.

I LOVE spattering and dripping. We did a lot of it painting theater sets and other large scale things. It was like being given permission to make a big mess, plus the effects are fun. Because it’s all so random and you have to work fast, it’s a great loosening-up exercise. Happy accidents happen, and give rise to more ideas.

This painting will almost certainly have birds in it, but you never know what life of its own it’ll take on. Tomorrow morning I’ll be out there again. We’ll see where it goes.

Flowers that survived the 114 degree weekend

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Hollyhocks

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Red sunflower, about 6 ft tall, the back is mostly yellow but the fronts are red!

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Dwarf zinnia mix

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Sweet potato flower

Technically, the sweet potato flower did not really survive the 114 degree weekend, because it seemed to have stopped flowering just before that. I moved it to the shade because the plant looked like it was struggling in even morning sun right now.

This is an actual sweet potato, not the ornamental kinds you buy for the foliage.

I had bought some sweet potatoes at the grocery store, forgot to cook them, and they started to sprout leaves right in the paper bag they came in. I continued to ignore them and they got to be a nice houseplant, LOL, but I was concerned they would die if I didn’t get them in soil soon. This was in winter here, maybe Jan or Feb. So I took it outside and put the bag and all into a pot and dumped potting soil into it and watered it good. It continued to grow into a lush plant, only getting a little damage from frost.

When it got hot this spring, it began to flower! Being related to morning glories, the flower resembles them. I can’t seem to capture the full beauty of the bloom, but they’re mostly white with a lavender and purple tone as it goes deeper inside. Luminous is how I’d describe them. They’re not quite as big of a flower as morning glories and they tend to hide under the foliage.

I’m told this is really rare for them to flower and that I should try to save any seed it makes. So far I can’t even locate a seed head. It may be that the heat, or lack of pollinators, prevented pollination and it may not even have seed as a result. If it does make seed, info I read said they’re rather rare and valuable to gardeners because that’s the only way to get genetic diversity in them. Most of them are propagated by roots because of how difficult it is to get seed. I wonder if the fact it was in such a crowded pot made it flower. Sometimes ‘stress’ makes a plant flower, and go to seed. High heat is one of the things that can do that with some plants you don’t generally want to go to seed, too, like lettuce. Some herbs and greens are “slow bolt” varieties that give you a little longer time to cut greens before they bolt and die. In all my reading up on the sweet potato I don’t recall if the vine is perennial. Seems like it would be; guess we’ll find out!

 

 

 

Review: GAC 200 and Jerry’s new medium/varnish

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A new love in the studio

Nope, I’m not being compensated to say this.

GAC (GOLDEN ACRYLIC PAINT CO) FORMULAS 100, 200

I love Golden Paint Company’s GAC 100 as an all purpose medium, sealer, and adhesive, but I had read that GAC 200 was specifically for rigid surfaces and was less sticky, (a harder finish). Since I’m working more on panels and wood scraps, I decided to give 200 a try.

The first thing I used GAC 200 for was as an isolation coat and/or top coat on pieces done on panels. It leveled nice, dried very fast, and was almost immediately non-tacky. I loved that! It’s glossy like 100.

I’ll continue to use GAC 100 on canvases, as well as a good painting medium and adhesive, too. It’s very flexible when dry so it is really better suited to flexible surfaces like canvas. I used a lot of gel medium, GAC 100, and really any acrylic mediums I had on hand, to provide bonding strength in my sculpture materials.

Read more about Golden’s formulas here: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/medium-gels-pastes/special-purpose-mediums

Read MSDS info on Golden Products: http://www.goldenpaints.com/combinedmsdspage

 

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Satin and Matte formulas

JERRY’S STUDIO ACRYLIC MEDIUM & VARNISH

Another product I’ve used a little now is Jerry’s Medium and Varnish, which comes in Gloss, Satin, and Matte. I’ve only used the Satin and Matte since most other acrylic mediums I have are already glossy. This is new to me. They were demonstrating it in Jerry’s store a couple months ago and I liked it. It’s thin, so I didn’t need to water it down for use as a “varnish” even in our hot dry air.

This is a similar concept to Liquitex’s Medium/Varnish (which as far as I know only comes in gloss, a nice product, too).  Tri Art used to make a varnish/medium if I recall but I haven’t seen it offered in the Dick Blick catalog lately. I don’t always want a true varnish, and to just use matte medium or mix my own and hope it’s the right ratio, isn’t really ideal. Matte mediums are not recommended by the makers as a final finish, though I, and I suspect many artists, end up using it that way sometimes!

Well, now there’s a Medium/Varnish that comes in all 3 gloss levels. The finish of the Jerry’s Satin and Matte is really nice. It’s interesting to play around with it and see how just changing the gloss on something can change or enhance it. Since some of my pieces have a deliberate combination of gloss and matte areas, this has been very useful. When I do collage or work on paper, I often want to retain the matte look of paper, so this will be a nice addition. On paintings, I don’t want it too shiny, so the satin is just right.

Unlike true varnishes, you can continue to work over and change things with a Medium/Varnish. Or just paint the hell over it entirely if you want. That may not work out so well if you’ve put an actual varnish on the piece and then later change your mind! So far, it has been a good performer.

The only unusual thing I noticed with Jerry’s Medium/Varnish is that the odor while drying is “solvent-y,” as best I can describe it. I looked for Material Safety Data Sheets on the Jerry’s products but didn’t immediately find them.

[UPDATE, edited to add that I heard back from Jerry’s when I asked them about MSDS sheets and they said they don’t have them at this time. According to OSHA, MSDS sheets are not required on non hazardous materials for ’employees’ but I didn’t look further. If someone wants to research it please comment here with your findings, we’d all appreciate it! OSHA ] 

If you read the Golden MSDS sheets, you can see ammonia is a component of GAC formulas. I am not sure I’d describe the Jerry’s odor as ammonia but if that’s commonly in products like this, that’s what it could be.

I put things outside to dry a lot no matter what, because even if things don’t have much odor, they can be bad for you and your pets, especially in large amounts.

Read about Jerry’s Artarama’s Medium: http://www.jerrysartarama.com/jerry-s-studio-acrylic-mediums

 

© 2016 Cindy Schnackel