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.

FeatherBrushes_schnackel

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.

featherbrush_schnackel

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

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

GAC200_schnackel

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

 

JerrysMedVar_schnackel

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

Some days I feel unproductive, then…

Studio2016Apr14

Whenever time stalls, due to lack of good light, being out of something, just being at a stopping point for the day, or having to wait for the next fleeting idea, I’m reminded of a line from “Thumb Wars.” “Waiting to be killed, waiting to be killed…” That’s how it feels to have work that’s not finished yet!

With so much going on this year, it’s easy to start to feel like I’m not being productive enough. Then I put a few pieces on my table that are nearly done for that day and I see that I have in fact been pretty productive. Some artists work in spurts; they get an idea and paint madly for awhile, then need a break. If pieces are small, it can feel like it’s not going to cover much wall space, but a few big pieces make up for it.

Working spontaneously and not over thinking things is really important to the way I work. Thoughts of being unproductive, or forcing myself to work on something, just don’t result in more, or better, work. Often, such forced sessions end with me gessoing over the day’s work! The energy that makes me like how a piece is going can’t be forced. If it’s going to work out I generally know it pretty soon into the piece. I will only give it another chance if there’s significant investment in it, or still has some part I do like. Later, a flash of insight may come to me. Or maybe later I’ll get a better idea for the one that got gessoed over, and redo it better.

I marvel at artists who plan everything and then carry it out exactly. While I can work from a plan somewhat, it takes me longer, and I have to let it take on a life of its own if it seems to want to. I draw a lot, and sometimes translating a sketch to a painting makes me feel I lost some of the spontaneity that made me like the drawing. In that case it’s important not to go too closely by the sketch, but to let the painting come into its own. It’s rare I actually transfer a sketch directly onto a canvas, though sometimes I will if it’s really important to keep it from escaping the bounds of the canvas, as I have a tendency to make things get too big and go off the edge more than I wanted.

How do you work? Do you just dig in, or do you plan, or some combination? Some method that isn’t covered by those two generalities?

Sculpting a bigger butt, and adding eyes

WIPFFBUTT_schnackel

Enlarging the behind, work in progress, 2016

Decided one of the sculptures in progress needed a bigger butt. I enlarged it with an air dry clay called Paperclay, not to be confused with a kiln fired clay of the same name. This can be hard to find at art supply stores but I reliably find it at Michael’s. Last time I got it, it was the last one in stock! Whew!

PaperClay

The pin holes in the add on buttocks are to let more air in so it dries faster and more evenly. I put it in the sun to really bake it dry! After it dried, I smeared small scraps of thin chiffon fabric with acrylic medium, and pressed that down over it for some added strength. Other fabrics work, too, but chiffon seems very strong and flattens so well it’s barely detectable.

Tool_Schnackel

When that was dry, I put a thin coat of Golden’s heavy modeling paste over it, and made fur texture with a  home made texture tool. I save plastic cards etc, like used bus passes, and cut a pattern into them to make a texture. You can paint or glaze over the dried texture to get various looks. If you can’t wipe off your paint/glaze before it dries, you may be able to carefully work that area back again with a rag and some rubbing alcohol, or fine wet-dry sanding film and minimal water. I usually have a damp rag in one hand and work fast, but the more aggressive methods will work if an area dries too fast for the rag alone.

EyeCSchnackel

Eye detail, sculpture 2016, Cindy Schnackel

 

Here’s a close up of the eye of one sculpture. I bought realistic eye balls from a maker who makes them specifically for use in arts and crafts, etc. A lot of the processes I researched involved baking various clays in the oven, or other toxins, something I didn’t trust to be safe in a house with pet birds. I may explore some other ways to make my own eyes, but in the meantime, these are fabulous, and I sculpt the lids, etc around them after attaching firmly to the substructure. I debated whether this sculpture would even have eyes, since I kind of liked the way it looked without! But, in the end, I’m glad I put eyes in it now. Perhaps a different piece will be eyeless.

By the time these are shown in the fall, I may have changed things, but here’s where they stand now.

Painting, sculpting

WIPFeb252016Schnackel

Working on paintings for a September show, and both paintings and sculptures for an October show.

WIPffpasture_schnackel

The gray critters on the lawn started as armatures made of empty plastic containers and cardboard tubes. Above, they are further along and drying in the sun on a lawn chair. At this point I’ve used several types of adhesives, fabrics, and modeling compounds like paper mache, paper clay, and of course any piece of stuff from the recycling bin that is the right shape.

Though I used various adhesives when called for, a lot of the construction is made of cloth strips soaked in acrylic gel medium. The resulting shell is durable and not prone to soften again while working on it. Lightweight, too! The outer shaping was done partially by wrapping like this, and also paper mache that I added some acrylic medium to, to make it adhere well and be water resistant when dry. Thick parts of the paper mache layer were poked with a chopstick to give them some air holes so it’d dry faster. They would be filled in later as I work on details of the animals with finer grained materials like acrylic modeling paste.

 

WIPmusicbirds2_CSchnackel

Four paintings in progress on the patio table. All are painted on vintage sheet music I found at a thrift store and adhered to panels. They dried nice and flat, must have been nice paper in those days.

Didn’t find any eyes in thrift store toys that satisfied me, so I resorted to ordering fake eyes for sculptures, and as soon as they arrive I’ll be adding eyes to some things that don’t have any. But, in a way, I’m kind of liking the no-eye look of one, so you never know!

I have taken later pictures of several paintings and sculptures, but they’re all too close to being finished now, to keep displaying them, until the shows are being announced (late summer-early fall).

Building Armatures & Testing Paints

2016PinataWIP1_Schnackel

Doesn’t look like much now!

A large cardboard cone, the start for an entry into the Mutant Pinata show that occurs in March, and will be at Chartreuse Gallery. Beatrice Moore, who has done so much for the arts especially on Grand Avenue, has organized this show for years. It’s pure fun! My husband started an armature too, and if he blogs about it I’ll link to it.

2016Man23FFwip_schnackel

Four legs, so far.

I have a plan for this animal, but you’ll have to wait and see what it’s going to be! I jammed the cardboard tubes through holes and gooped them up with gel medium. By morning they were dry and quite sturdy. There will be a lot of layering of cloth strips soaked in liquid acrylic medium, plus other parts. Maybe some paper mache. You never know.

2016Jan23scoop_schnackel

This scoop makes a good bird head.

I forget what product these come in, but it’s the 2nd or 3rd I have. One is already the ‘skull’ for a finished sculpture, and this one soon will be. I like reusing things that’d otherwise go in the trash or recycling, to build armatures for 3D pieces. Art should last many years, even centuries if cared for. If anyone xrayed my sculptures they would find lots of empty containers and other bits and bobs that attracted my eye.

2016PAINTtest_schnackel

Paint Test

Tested some liquid acrylic paints. Other than where the dark colored masking tape that covered parts of it tore up the paper, the paints held up well to a couple of days out in the sunlight. All of the colors I tested had good lightfastness ratings to begin with.  No need to make your paint tests completely boring when you can make monsters!

Phoenix Magazine Feature, recent stuff

PHXmag2015

Phoenix Magazine feature photo, Nov/Dec 2015

Phoenix Magazine Featured Artist, what an honor!

I was honored to be a featured artist in the December issue of Phoenix Magazine! http://www.phoenixmag.com/arts/cindy-schnackel.html

The interview was a lot of fun. Niki D’Andrea, the author, and the photographer, Angelina Aragon, were such nice people. I happened to have invitations for a private artist’s party and opening reception, of a show I was in, (at the Tieken Gallery, see earlier post), so I invited the two, and they had a good time there. It was great to see them again, and, being arts reporters they already knew some of the artists.

I’d like to thank Wayne Michael Reich, an artist and writer, for putting my name in front of Phoenix Magazine in the first place!

Being a featured artist is exciting and I was very pleased this publication understood the infringement problem I’d had, and agreed to put my watermark over any of my art, for the online version. Artists naturally want media coverage, so it can be a tough choice to pass up an opportunity if it’ll start a whole new slew of infringements that eat up time and energy. I’ve seen many artists suddenly become copyright converts when they find that first infringement, often for some company or cause they are appalled by. Most infringers treat online image searches, such as google, as their free clip art source, when in fact, the internet is not the public domain, it’s just publicly visible, two very different things! Nonetheless, their lawbreaking is a pain in the ass for the artist! Watermarks are not 100% effective in prevention but they deter most, and that’s a significant gain in being able to put that time and energy back to use making more new art. Thank you, Phoenix Magazine!

Graphic Panel T-Shirt

PanelTee_schnackel

New ‘graphic panel tee shirt’ of my Giant Coffee Drinking Chicken painting

Though I have all but left the whole Print On Demand scene, after finding format changes and other issues kind of draining, I still have quite a few of my works on private view on my Red Bubble account. I sometimes buy them for myself as promotional material, mostly. This is the new ‘graphic panel tee.’ The back and sleeves are cotton and only come in black or white. The front panel is a white synthetic material and that’s what’s printed. The fabric seems fine, but I’m still testing it by wearing and washing a few more times, before I declare it a hit. The fit is very similar to the regular tees there, plenty long. If they were not so long I’d get a Small for myself, but I like things loose, and am short, so a long small shirt often feels like a girdle around my hips and goes past my butt LOL! So I get a Medium and that is a little baggy and easier to access pants pockets etc. Taller people appreciate the length.

Shows

AZ45ClosingRec_2015

The closing reception of the AZ 45 is Sunday Nov. 29, details in the flyer above! If you’re in the area but can’t make the reception, the gallery does open by appointment. The show comes down after the reception the 29th.

I have entered work in a few group shows that will be in December and January, and if I can get something done will enter a couple of others, as well. I do have work in {9} The Gallery, on Grand Ave, in Phoenix, in December. I’ll be updating my shows and events page as details come in, so you will have all the times and addresses, etc.

There was kind of a cluster of group shows I actually got an idea for in time to enter this fall/winter.

I’ll be getting back to my animal series and hope it’s ready to show by fall of 2016. If I really get going on it, maybe sooner, but I’m giving myself plenty of time so that there’s enough for it to be a solo show if possible. I’m not counting out the possibility of it being more than me, but it is more message-y than my work usually is and I don’t want that message diluted with unrelated stuff, (lovely as that stuff might be). So if I do it in conjunction with other artists I do want it to be on the same theme/message, which is veganism, factory farming, animal rights, and how we think of animals. My pieces are still humorous and still “me.”

I have seen some really wonderful art on these topics, varying from cute to very dark and in your face.

A related issue is the GMO debate, such as Fred Tieken’s ongoing series with his now Trademarked character, Uno, the one legged bird. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and showing with Fred, and it is his gallery that the AZ 45 is in. He even had a giant Uno constructed, which is at a show in California now if I’m right. I loved his show in Phoenix with Uno and other strange critters. I really identify with his view because he’s serious about it but manages to keep his humor and personality in his pieces, and that’s important to me, too, in my own art. I was not “converted” to veganism by force, nor would I expect anyone else to be. I hope my work on the vegan and factory farming topics will convince people to rethink their food. I am pretty sure Fred’s work made people think about GMO!