03 September 2007


CALLIGRAPHY pens on bristol. 6 weeks.

end of summer is a time for looking back.

i had been considering using colored felt pens for drawing, and happened to buy "Calligraphy" brand pens manufactured by Kuretake Co., Ltd. in and of Japan. the body of the pen proclaims "Archival Quality - Lightfast - Fade Proof", and anytime a manufacturer claims something three times i know i have to test it.

after six weeks in the sun (under acrylic cover), several of the magenta, red, orange and mixed green pens have failed badly. only the dark pure greens, blues, purple (dioxazine) and black survived. this reinforces my prejudice never to trust a "warm" colored or mixed green paint without testing its lightfastness. the pigments and the manufacturer claims are equally untrustworthy.

i also put time into reorganizing the recent works section of my site into generic categories -- botanical/still life, figure nude, landscape and portrait. this helped me to see my work as a whole and focused on specific problems i need to solve to get to the next level.

i am not interested in abstract painting (for now), although the idea has been bubbling up a little.

the methods i am currently using in watercolor: brush application of watercolors; drawing with charcoal or graphite; freehand, squared or traced drawings; naturalism without detail; schematization or compressed simplification; increased value shading associated with increasing light realism; outline drawing emphasizing contour changes; recent change from large to small format; a small format performance window of about 4 to 8 hours, broken as necessary over days and/or similar paintings.

my faults are that my paintings can be too tense, when i want them to appear fluent and relaxed; i do too much in the way of lifting and glazing to "correct" painted areas, especially in realism; i do not make clear technical and interpretive choices about how paint or colors are combined; i overwork with the brush. i have sometimes set pieces aside for months or even years, although i have been patient enough to finish them.

the criterion of a good painting is its permanence, as a remembered pleasure or a repeated study. technique needs to be felt with the same intensity as the image.

1 comment:

W. K. Moore said...

Thx for posting this Bruce. From time to time I also do some testing but now I seem to have a pretty good collection of reliable pigments. It's a benefit for the rest of us to have you in the trenches exposing fugitive pretty colors. I have some watercolor inks that are seemingly light fast.. but flake off after a time - Dr. Martin brand. Overall I like Holbein watercolors and am less impressed with WN. I wonder how the Tombow color pens hold up... I did some work with those but haven't done any light testing.