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Ok, I'll try this again:

Hi fellow artists.

My name is Tom David. I retired in October of 2003 after a successful career as a public school administrator. In April of 2006, I retired from my second career as a senior warrant officer (CW5) in the Illinois Army National Guard where I served in the personnel field for over 36 years.

I began my formal training at Eastern Illinois University where I earned a B.S. in Education majoring in studio art with a concentration in pottery and sculpture. Following graduation I taught art in various public schools in east-central Illinois. After eleven years in the classroom, I was employed as a school administrator, serving first as an elementary principal for four years and then as an assistant superintendent for human resources during my last sixteen years in public education. During my years in the field of education, I continued to attend school earning an M.A. in Art Education and a Specialist Degree in School Administration at Eastern Illinois University and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Illinois. I recently completed my study of advanced figure drawing and painting under the guidance of Ke-Hsin Jenny Chi, Chris Kahler, and Robert Horvath at Eastern Illinois University.

You can view one of my Artist's statements, learn more about me, and see some of my work on my artist web cite at .

In 2004 I decided to retrain in the 2-d field. Interestingly for me though, some of my artist friends who have seen me paint tell me that I "carve" with paint. I work in oils, acrylics, pastel, pencil, and silverpoint. Lately, however, I have been working mostly in acrylics. A new product from Golden Acrylics is their "open acrylics". If you haven't used them yet, give them a try. The are a bit "soupy" but otherwise fell a lot like oils. I have found that I can mix a little of the traditional, fast drying acrylics to give them a bit more "tooth" or "drag" feel to them. I have been able to keep the Open Acrylics wet and useable for several days by putting them in an air-tight container. I often will put the paint on a plastic lid, put a bit of water in the lid's container and them snap the lid on the container, suspending the paint upside-down above the water. There probably is a better solution for a large quantity of paint, but this system works fine for small amounts. A retarder can be used to keep the Open Acrylics wet and fluid for even longer periods of time. A wetting solution is also available if you like to thin the paint to a water-color like consistency. Of course a spray bottle to mist your canvas helps at times to, depending on your need.

I have found that acrylic paint, unlike oil paint, does not cover India ink at all. It bleeds through. I suppose everyone knows that with acrylics artists do not have to be concerned with the fat over lean and thick over thin principles that are very important when working in oils. I also think another advantage of acrylic over oils is that you can easily include other materials, e.g., graphite, pastel, etc. and transferring images from print material is much easier with acrylics. Acrylics are less toxic as well. Something that too many artists don't take seriously enough. Handle oil paints and solvents as though they were rat poison.

A characteristic of traditional acrylics is that they dry so darn fast. For me, this is sometimes an asset because if forces me to work faster. Plus, if I don't like something, I can wait 30 minutes and paint over it. Wet on wet is much more difficult than with oils,; however, Golden's Open Acrylic addresses this problem quite well.

I sometimes find staring at a linen canvas to be somewhat intimidating. But painting on heavy paper (BFK, 140# watercolor paper, etc) that I have put on a couple coats of gesso have the opposite effect. Some of my best work is on paper.

If you haven't tried drawing with silverpoint, give it a try. Few artists work in this medium. Golden has just marketed a silverpoint ground that is very good. I have tried other acrylic silverpoint grounds as well as rabbit-skin glue grounds, but I think Golden has a superior product

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Replies to This Discussion

the "Lord of the Flies" image is as disturbing as the book....nice work.

I hear you about the acrylics drying out. What I did was cast myself a paint tray, in 2-part silicone rubber, that has lots of little partitions for different colors of paint. This fits inside a square flattish plastic snap-lid container, on top of a layer of 1/4" thick foam rubber. I pour some water in the bottom, which soaks the foam and keeps the paint from drying out for some days or weeks. If I leave it too long, though, the paint starts growing mold, which is gross...

Andrew Werby

PS Are we chatting now?
Where do you get the silicone rubber
I use a lot of silicone rubber in my work, mostly for making molds. It's nice for this application since if you let the paint dry out, it can be easily removed from the rubber surface, unlike from most commercial paint trays. I like the #1621 2-part silicone from SilPak; I get it from Douglas and Sturgess in SF:; a 1 lb. kit would probably be sufficient for this. (Their site seems to be down today, but they're still in biz - you can call them at 1(888) ART STUF).

Andrew Werby
Andrew: Thanks for the info. This helps. Is there anything I can help you with.
What is the fat over lean and thick over thin principle?
I may know how to paint but don't know any of the rules!
The principle of painting 'fat over lean' is one of the fundamental concepts of oil painting and one to follow to reduce the risk an oil painting cracking. 'Fat over lean' has got to do with the varying drying times of oil pigments (which can vary from a couple of days to a fortnight) and ensuring that upper layers of paint don't dry faster than lower ones. No responsible gallery, museum, curator, collector would ever buy or sell work from an artist who didn't strictly adhere to these principles. Google "Fat over Lean" to learn more. Painting Alla Prima gets around most of these problems.

"Thick over thin" principle goes hand-in-hand with the "Fat over Lean" principle, especially if a solvent is used to thin paint in the initial applications. Again, Google "Thick over Thin". A good source of technical information is Gamlin and Golden sites.
I have always figured I needed to let the first layer dry first and it is usually thin and then i build up from there. After reading your reply though I realized there might not be some concepts that I am aware of so I just stock piled myself with a lot of "BASIC" books since I never studied art in school! Thanks so much!
A thin first layer is ok, but the key is to add a tiny bit (half a drop) of oil to your next next application of paint, and a bit more to the 3rd layer of paint, etc. I usually use Liquin or Galkyd because the are pretty much dry to the touch in 24-48 hours. I try to use as little solvent in my oil paint as possible because it is so toxic.

Also, I highly recommend that you take some basic art classes at a university. Books are great, but it helps to be around other artists in a formal setting. I have 4 degrees and hundreds of credit hours in art classes, yet I still take art classes just to be around people working in the arts. The classes duplicate much of what we are trying to do in this site, but faster, easier, and more comprehensive. I should take a couple of art history classes as well. I'm not that familiar with the work of contemporary artists. Much of the great things being accomplished today are by artists who weren't even born when I last took an art history class. I know money can be a barrier to taking art classes, but check with the university financial aids office for available scholarships. Also, chat with some of the art instructors who might welcome a local artist as a studio assistant. . . which would be a free ticket into an art class.
I was just going to post you after seeing your reply to Ang about being self taught. I went to school for business (blah) and now I am wondering if I need to go back to school. What type of classes do you think are a must for an oil painter?
Hi Sloane:

First, postings seem a little weird. Not what people say, but how its posted. Posting don't occur immediately but apparently are delayed for a while. I get an email saying someone has left a comment but when I go to our site, nothing is there. Also, posting don't occur in some order, but may show up somewhere in the middle of discussion elements. . . . which I don't always see.

Now, your questions. Assuming you are a painter not interested in earning degree. And that you are someone interested in acquiring or improving skills and at the same time learning some basics , then you should take a couple of drawing classes, a couple of figure drawing classes, a basic 2-d design class, a digital graphic design course, an art history class, a watercolor class, and several painting classes. Sometimes, classes are offered as adult evening classes and can be very economical. Try to have as many different instructors as possible. When I know my instructors specialty, I try to learn as much as possible about that specialty.
Thanks for the info I belong to a group where they have open sessions for these type of "classes".
Sorry if the posting seems wierd, everything seems to lag a little on this site. I will get an email on live about something someone sent but it's not in my inbox yet???? I don't have a better idea on how to handle something ongoing like this for a week. If you have some ideas of what we could do better please let me know! Also, email me some info for how it was like being the featured artist (even though I know you weren't keen on it and did it so I would start already!) Just some stuff I can put into the newsletter!


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