Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wishing you rainbows and Unicorns

May you have an exceptional ending to 2013... 

and a beautiful beginning to 2014


Wishing you rainbows and Unicorns in 2014. (My Unicorn photo came out too blurry to use.)

The US1 beginning and end signs are on the corner of Whitehead and Fleming Streets in Key West, FL

The other end is in Fort Kent, Maine.

The signs in Fort Kent, Maine.  The other, colder, (but I am sure just as beautiful) end of US 1.

Visit usends.com to see more highway beginnings and ends.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A 6 point review of paint brands

Very often when I show photos of my work table with its jumble of assorted paints, in this blog I get e-mails or comments with questions about the paints I use.  So I thought it would be good for me to collect my thoughts on the paints I choose and tell you why I like them, or in some cases don't.

I paint in lots of thin layers.  I like what happens when the colors interact with each other and my paint choices are based on that. Also let me say that these are my opinions based on what I want my paints to do.

What I want from my paint.
I  want the paint to just flow off my brush, almost like ink.  I want as little drag as possible.  I like all different surfaces, canvas, paper, primed board.  They each bring their own personality to the finished piece and the paint has to work with all those surfaces.
I want to be able to put out big piles of paint without,  "OMG! What is this costing me?"

 Above is my diagramed photo (kind of like the photos in the Arlo Guthrie song Alice's Restaurant) of the paints I am currently using.  I have circled and number the paints and they correspond to the list below.

So in descending order of least favorite to most favorite they are...

  • #6 Liquitex Brand Paints    Don't look too hard, you won't  see many on my work table.  The heavy body paints get snotty in the tubes and almost impossible to mix.  The soft body paints aren't worth the price.   Except for...........
  • #5 Liquitex Gesso which I use for white.  It flows great and has good coverage.  If you use a lot of white this is a very easy on the budget alternative to Titanium white in tubes.
  • #4 Lukas acrylics in the big squeeze bottles.  The blues are good,  the reds and yellows, not so much, too transparent and un-pretty color, except I did like the vermillion red and the Indian yellow.  The price is good.
  • #3 Amsterdam Standard acrylics.  These are the student grade of the line. The price is similar to the Liquitex Basics, but they are much better.  The white is worthless, the pale tints aren't good by themselves but they are great to mix with other colors.  You get a lighter value of the color that isn't the same old boring blue + white = pale blue. You get some really interesting colors.
  • #2 Amsterdam Expert acrylics.  Really good paint for the money. Lots of pigment in the colors.  A little stiffer than the standard but still okay.
  • #1  Totally Awesome Holbein Acryla.  But they are really really spendy and look how tiny the tubes are!  But there are some must have colors, Compose Rose and Opera. 
I know I didn't mention a lot of brands, Golden for example, but these are the brands that are working for me now.  Maybe next year will be different, we'll just have to see what the next year brings. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Great day of painting.

After spending most of the last 8 weeks working on pottery it feels good to be in the painting studio again.  I finished the painting below.  It had been having a "time out" for several months.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mural finish

 Here are the final phases of my mural.  I was almost finished at this point and stopped to have a discussion with the clients about moving some of the foliage onto the adjoining wall.  They thought it was something they might want but decided to wait until the end to make the decision.
After I took the plastic off and pulled the blue tape away so they could see the adjoining wall they decided the wanted to go ahead with placing some foliage on the next wall.
I also gave them a little sail boat on the horizon.

This is the view of the mural from the hall.  This was the only place I could stand and get a photo of the whole wall.

I was very fortunate and my clients were wonderful to work with.  I gave them the sketch I worked from as a gift.  (30" x 22" acrylic on 300# paper)
On another note.  This blog sight is experiencing some serious technical issues.  I will try to resolve them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mural project, day 2

On day 2 of my mural project I loaded the premixed colors in my car and went back to work.  I had premixed 3 different greens, a cool green, a warm green and a yellow green.  I also mixed an orange and a purple. I neglected to mix a couple of browns. In hindsight I wish I had.  The palm tree trunks took a lot of time and if I had a couple of browns it would have been easier.
I save the Styrofoam trays that come from the grocery store to use as palettes and I took a bunch with me.  I had one for palm fronds, and one for tree trunks and one for light colors.  See the box top things that the paint cans and squeeze jars are sitting in?  I took a bunch of those and set the cans and buckets and things in them so that if I spilled something it wouldn't go everywhere.  I only used large house painting brushes the first day for the large areas.  Day 2 and 3 I used my regular brushes.
This is the end of day 2.  At the end of the day I had the home owners look at the mural and I told them I wanted to kick up the color in the clouds.  They said fine, they would be happy to have more of a sunset feel there.  We always planned on there being a lot of color in the palms and the grasses, but the sketch they okayed didn't have a lot of color in the clouds on the horizon.
I finished day 2 much more confident that this mural was going to be fine.  The colors in the squeeze bottles made my life much easier.  I didn't worry the entire time about the mess and I could really concentrate on the project. I left at the end of day 2 knowing just what my next steps were going to be and fairly certain that I could complete this in one more day.

I decided to take a ride by the beach on my way home and take a look at the sunset for a little inspiration.  It was a lovely one.
 See you day 3.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mural Project, day 1

I have just finished a mural on a powder room wall in old town Key West.  The house is a new build in a compound and has an existing cottage on the property. The interior was getting its final touches the days I was working.

I had met the owners and seen the house in progress in November when we first started to discuss the project.  Isn't that cottage cute? And a small plunge pool right off the living room, wonderful.
After our initial meeting the owners and I decided that the next step would be for them to decide on a motif based on images of my past work.  I set up a page for them on this blog (the remnants of it are still here, called for the Larsens) and uploaded all kinds of past paintings.  I knew that some of them wouldn't work, but there was also color to consider so I wanted them to see a lot of choices.  When they decided on motif and color scheme I did a sketch on
 22"x 30" 300lb watercolor paper.  They approved the sketch, my price and dates of work.  Next step was for me to select colors.  I painted the mural in the same brand of paint that they used for the interior, Benjamin Moore.  They choose a pebble finish for the walls, but I painted in flat.  I didn't want any texture or sheen.  Looking at color chips took way more time then I thought it would. I looked at colors before I painted the large sketch and selected colors I thought would go with the colors on the other walls in the room.  Then after the sketch was finished and approved I took the sketch with me to the paint store and selected the main colors. In the end I got some great colors and I ended up with some primary colors that really mixed well.
I taped the wall edges, put plastic on the floor and then installed a cardboard floor so I wasn't slipping around on plastic.  That was one of the best moves I made.
I rolled the sky color and then brushed a darker blue in the upper left hand corner to give the sky a shift in color from right to left.  Next I brushed in the background water, background sand and started in on the shadow areas.  That's when I realized I had made a mistake. I had planned to mix a lot of colors on sight because I wanted them all to work with the lighting that was in the room.  It is a very small and dark powder room.  I was working out of the quarts of paint and mixing colors from them was going to be a nightmare and huge mess.  I went to the restaurant supply store and got numerous squeeze bottles.  One for every major color I thought I would mix.
 I took all the paints back to my studio and spent the rest of the afternoon mixing colors.
 They were easy to work out of and transport.  It made day 2 of the mural project much easier.
See you day 2!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Captain's Cottage, Key West

Simonton St, Key West, Florida
© Maggie Ruley 2013

This house on Simonton Street is next to, and might be part of the Pilot's House guest house.  It was the inspiration for my painting The Captain's Cottage.

The Captain's Cottage
acrylic on canvas
5 x 7" framed
©Maggie Ruley 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Can't you just smell the salt air?

Gala, or little yellow sailboat
© Maggie Ruley 2013

This little sailboat is parked at the dingy docks behind the Turtle Kraal's Restaurant.  Key West has a whole community of people who live on boats and commute into town via dingy.  This is one of their parking lots.
Can't you just smell the salt air?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Key West Snap Shot

The Odd Couple, photo
© Maggie Ruley, 2013
I photographed this house because of the combination of funny elements.  Rusty little house, shiny new little tiny car with its red stripe that matches the flag on the house, and of course the giant palm tree.
When I arrived in Key West in '86 most of the houses looked like the one above.  Now after years of the town being in a refurbishing frenzy very few are left with this patina.
Have a great day,

Monday, December 2, 2013

Key West Snap Shot

Key West Transport photo
© Maggie Ruley 2013
I always have my camera with me and I snap plenty of Key West pics.  I think maybe on days I don't have anything to say I'll post a photo or two of some of the wonderful sights in Key West and the reasons why I call it home.

Everyone have a good day.

Key West Transport
photo on paper
5 x 7" matted to 8 x 10"
white mat

This house is probably one of the most photographed homes in Key West, with its colorful bikes and wonderful curb appeal. 
Paradise for Sale, photo
© Maggie Ruley 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Key West Roosters on Parade

rooster by artist Mark Hedden
The Roosters are all together in the main gallery of TSKW until the middle of December.
The rooster (above, center) by Mark Hedden is my favorite.  44 of the 50 roosters are being auction off on their own Facebook page. Conchadoodle.  The remaining six are being raffled and I am not sure of the raffle date at this time.

Day of the Dead Rooster by Pam Hobbs


I think this Rooster is by Jim Sherrington

Not every artist chose to make their rooster a free standing sculpture.

mosaic rooster on wall by Deborah Goldman

Le Coq Van Gogh by moi

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