Budget Macaw – the Challenge Continues

Well!  I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the result (see

for part 1).  I can’t say it was a pleasant ride (see all the bristles that were shed on the background) but I think this is not too shabby at all.
So what’s the verdict on the tools?   The paint – really quite good to work with.  Yes the pigment strength is a little on the weak side but I quite enjoyed using them.  They worked well on their own and also mixed well.   4.99 very well spent I think.
The paper was not as bad as I’d feared.  Yes it wasn’t absorbent but  I tried to work quickly and things worked out ok.  Would I move permanently?  No.  But it’s good enough for sketches and rough work.
Now the brushes.  Oh the brushes.  Oh how I hate you.  This was a *nightmare*.  The wretched things wouldn’t take up much water (apart from the times they did and then dribbled it all over the place),  they wouldn’t spring back to an upright position after being used and they shed bristles  EVERYWHERE!   And this is only the first use.   
Do not buy these ever!  
For  $4.85 you can get a
Princeton round synthetic brush (size 10)

that is light years better than any of these and you could do most paintings with just this brush.  Hell – for $12.85 you can get a fancier
Escoda Toray synthetic round (size 10)

Joseph Zbukvic

himself uses and he’s no slouch in the painting department.

Anyway on to the painting.

First the drawing.   As usual pretty happy at this point.   That is apart from the claws – always have trouble with the claws.

The first washes.   I was getting a little worried at this point but soldiered on.

Slightly further along.  Was feeling much happier here.  The darks were looking pretty good and the wing feathers had come out quite well.

Almost there now – the head is good and I managed a reasonable eye even with THOSE WRETCHED BRUSHES!

Tada!  Takes a bow.  The background came out a bit weak but I didn’t care at that point.   All in all I’m pretty pleased.    
For the build up to this painting see the previous post

How cheap can you go?

My darling husband laid down a challenge this afternoon.   Is it possible to use the cheapest materials available and still produce a decent painting?   After browsing around Michael’s we came away with 4.99 paints,  4.99 brushes and 6.99 paper.    I thought the paints would probably be ok – maybe a little lacking in pigment strength but you can always put more on the paper.  People actually bring these to our life classes and seem to do reasonably well with them.   The paper I hate.  Cheap paper has no tooth, buckles easily and is usually pretty non-absorbent so everything dries too quickly.  I’m not looking forward to that at all.   The brushes, well, you definitely get what you pay for.  Even looking at them in the packet you can tell the bristles are uneven and not coming to a point.

The paints.  Not a bad selection.  We have good primaries and a dark brown that will help make some darks.  The green is probably a little too vibrant but may mix well.

 The paper.  Feels very smooth which I don’t like at all.  However, it is actually 140lb paper which is a reasonable weight and it shouldn’t buckle too badly.

Oh dear.  The brushes.  I abandoned all but the bottom four which were the largest.  The rest can come in handy for masking fluid.  Notice the little tuft at the top of the big orange handled one 4th from the bottom?  This isn’t a good sign.  They are not meant to do that.  Also note how none of the bristles are smooth, symmetrical or even straight?   This is also not a good sign.

This is a (not very good) photo of the cheap (unused) brush at the top and the expensive, best quality sable brush at the bottom.  I’ve used the bottom brush regularly for over a year and it still comes to a point well,  the bristles are still smooth and it’s hardly shed anything at all.  This is what brushes should do.

Some test mixes.    I first tried the primaries and was pretty impressed.  The pigment is intense and mixes well.   This is a good sign.    My first attempt at a green wasn’t great but after picking a more turquoise blue with the yellow ochre color things improved a lot.   
One of the things I was most worried about with the paints was that I wouldn’t be able to produce a good dark but this worked out very well.  A combination of blue and dark brown (shown above) or a mixture of red and turquoise green gave pretty good results.
Onward to the painting….

Another Wednesday, Another Model

Oh how I appreciated escaping for a couple of hours to paint yesterday.    Worth every penny.    We started off with some different ways of gesture drawing.  First we just did 30 second poses with two or three lines.  We then moved on to slightly longer poses but only indicating the direction of the torso, limbs and head with no detail.  Finally we were meant to do something involving zigzags but I missed the instructions and did some more direction drawings instead.   

I like these.   They have a lot of life to them.

Onto the longer stuff.   I fancied a bit more drawing so I first did a full length pose..

.. and then just the head.   Both 15 minutes and I was pretty pleased.