Cherries, or does the brand make a difference, when it comes to oilpaint

Last summer, when everything was still normal, I wanted to do some painting again after a hiatus of 15 years. (During which I did a lot of sculpture, but I hurt one of my fingers and the scar tissue both still hurts, especially if I put pressure on it, and the fingertip is completely insensitive at the same time. This makes sculpting in wax Not Fun.)

I took out my old Talens van Gogh paints, went on the roof terrace and started doodling. But the white spirit fume was rather bad for me, even outside… Some of those tubes I’ve had since I was twelve years old, and never used them up. Oil paint might be expensive, but apart from white, you don’t use much of it.

Then I discovered Talens Cobra water-mixable oils. I got a bunch of them, new brushes, some paper suitable for painting with oils, and had a lot of fun.

When we had a sprint last year (remember when we could have sprints, it sure seems a different country now), I let the artists paint with it, and they had fun, too!

The paper never really pleased me. I had two kinds, something linen-like and something with a bit of a coarse texture. Neither pleased me.

So, when around Christmas, I wanted to paint two small portraits of roleplaying characters, I started working on small panels.

I painted the portraits of Moyri and Khushi. This was lots of fun, too, but I sort of realized that in the first place I could do with some teaching where it comes to the technical aspects of painting. Sure, I have been going to life drawing class every other week for a couple of years now, but the teaching there is more about art and composition and things than technical advice on how to hold your brush, load it, put paint down and so on.

And I wanted to experiment with some other paint, so I got Schmincke Mussini paint. This paint turned out to be much nicer to use than Cobra or van Gogh, with a very smooth consistency and great colors. The Cobra vermilion is much too orange; the Mussini vermilion is just perfect. But the paint is mixed with a kind of resin, following the recipe of Cesare Mussini, who with a horde of other painters/scholars in the Nineteenth century was looking for the The Secret of the Old Masters and thought it were mystery ingredients, instead of just starting young, drawing all day and painting all day.

So I decided to look for a place to learn. I found Art Partout, in Deventer and a bunch of other places in the Netherlands. I took them up on their offer of a test lesson before plunging in. They let us paint cherries, which is a bit boring, but, well, I already found I learned some things, so I decided to join.

Except of course that the day the lessons were supposed to begin, the lock-down happened… They did send out paint, brushes, documentation and a link to a bunch of videos, so we could get started, though. The paint was Schmincke Norma, so now I have four kinds of paint to play with: Talen van Gogh, Talens Cobra, Schmincke Mussini and Schmincke Norma.

The first lesson was…. Painting two cherries. The identical two cherries I had already painting during the test lesson! Anyway, my results then weren’t too good, so I decided to just do it again, but with a twist: I’d paint the original cherries with the Norma paint, and then one with Cobra and one with Mussini, just to check whether the snootiness about Cobra being no good had anything to it.

Mussini, Norma, Norma, Cobra, table and background also Cobra, stalks Norma.

There was absolutely no difference in handling that I could feel between Norma and Cobra, apart from being able to clean the brushes with water.

But the Mussini was a lot better, with better covering, better spreading and fuller color.

I wish I had thought of this experiment before I did the second cherry with Norma, though, because I’d have liked to check with my old van Gogh paints. Though that set is missing some colors, and I cannot get the cap off the tubes of some others.

But there’s a second panel, which is meant to be used to paint berries, but I might just use it for another four cherries, in the interest of science…

And I’ve made a nice place to work for myself, with only one bug: it’s to easy¬† to turn to the left and switch on the monitor of my work computer.

My painting desk


I’m on vacation…

I started feeling really tired in November, and then I realized I hadn’t taken much time off this year — a couple of days at the sea-side was most of it. So I thought it was time to do something else than bug triaging, bug fixing, writing code, acting like I’m a manager. This summer I’d bought water-soluble oil paints (Cobra, from Talens), and I have spent and hour here and an hour there learning the stuff again.

Continue reading “I’m on vacation…”

Mixing Green

For my own reference:

Palette with greens

Counter-clockwise outside:

  • Mix of Titanium and Zinc White
  • Burnt Sienna (to work as red)
  • Ultramarine
  • Phtalo Blue
  • Permanent Yellow with Phtalo Blue
  • Cobalt Blue

The group of six dots, left to right, each column top to bottom

  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon with Ultramarine
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon Phtalo Blue
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon with Cobalt Blue
  • Permanent Yellow Medium with Ultramarine
  • Permanent Yellow Medium Phtalo Blue
  • Permanent Yellow Medium with Cobalt Blue
  • Permanent Lemon Yellow with Ultramarine
  • Permanent Lemon Yellow Phtalo Blue
  • Permanent Lemon Yellow with Cobalt Blue

Inside two color, three colors in a row, left to right, top to bottom

  • Phtalo Blue with Lemon Yellow
  • Cobalt Blue with Permanent Yellow Medium
  • Cobalt Blue with Cadmium Yellow Lemon and Burnt Sienna
  • Cobalt Blue with Cadmium Yellow Lemon
  • Cobalt Blue with more Cadmium Yellow Lemon

Museum Day, or, the Benefit of Skiving Off

Tomorrow, there’s the fund raiser training session. Given that we’ve been raising funds for Krita since time immemorial (our first fund raiser was for two Wacom tablets and art pens so we could implement support for them, the second to let Lukas Tvrdy work on Krita for a couple of months and after that, we’ve had the kickstarters), that might seem superfluous. But I’m still hoping to learn lots. After all, it’s not like we’re exactly awash in money.

But today, we, me and Irina, we went all-out for a day in Vienna. Just took the day off, had a lazy morning with breakfast in the hotel room (tea and croissants…), then took the underground to the Karlsplatz. From there, it was an easy walk to the KHM. Vienna is quite compact.

One thing I love about Vienna is the ubiquitous availability of non-sugary soft drinks. That is, soda zitrone — sparkling water with lemon juice. Half a litre of that in the museum cafe rehydrated us sufficiently to go out and see the parts that we hadn’t seen before. The French/Italian/Spanish parts of the museum are not as paralyzing as the Flemish/German/Dutch parts, but there was plenty! In particular, the three portraits of the Infanta of Spain, at ages 4, 6, 8 (or thereabouts) were touching. Gramps, being the Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation, had asked his son-in-law for regular updates on his little darling grandchild, and got them, painted by Velasquez.

The Roman/Greek/Egyptian part was curious more than impressive: quantity over quality, perhaps, but still, interesting. It’s also the most unreconstructed part of the museum, with the exhibits often being labeled only in type-written German, on yellowing paper.

Having gone through that section, we were conveniently close to the museum cafe again, where they do serve excellent food. So we lunched there, then went back to our favourites in the dutch/flemish/german paintings sections. I spent half an hour with Rogier van der Weyden again, and if there wouldn’t be that fundraising workshop tomorrow, I would spend an hour in that room again, tomorrow. But we’ve got a year pass and we will return. I like the KHM better than the Bodemuseum in Berlin… There were other paintings I have stared at, trying to remember all of it, like the Reynolds in a little side-room. I was going all squiggly-eyed, so I decided to try and find Irina.

As I was staggering towards the exit, I suddenly became aware of being spoken at by a clean-shaven person, in what I thought was Danish or Swedish or some other language I don’t speak. It turned out to be one of the other Akademy attendees, a Dutchman. I had so much trouble coming down to earth and realizing that he was speaking a language that I could understand! Afterwards, I felt like a loon.

From there, we went out in search of beer. It was, by now, afternoon, and a warm one. We failed though! First we reached the Treasury. Our year pass is valid there as well, and we had been told the Treasury museum is in the medieval part of the Hofburg. And since the Hofburg is, sorry…, weird, it’s like an ordinary, rather plain, apartment building like you find them all over Vienna, we were like, let’s see what the medieval parts look like!

Well, there wasn’t much of that visible. But the presentation was really pretty good: excellent explanations, impressive exhibits, lots of ancient costumes, too. What I really want to know, though, is: how can textile dating back to the Norman kingdom in Sicily, C12, be as smooth and hale as the socks and tunics and orarion are that are shown? Those 1000-year old swords: how can the steel look like it was forged last year? I’m sure it’s that old, but how has it been conserved and preserved like that?

From there we went on, and found a Kurkonditorei — I guess it’s Kur, because you can only get beer in 0.3 and not 0.5 measures, which must have a slimming effect. Still, the beer was cool, my sandwich was good, Irina’s topfenknodel were good too, or so I have been told, and there were so many interesting people to watch… We had another beer.

And then it was time to go back to the hotel, shower, read mail, go out back to the venue area, find that the Bep Viet restaurant was packed, have a pizza at the pizza place, go back again, and realize that this has been one of the nicest Akademy’s I’ve attended, and that Vienna’s one of the nicest places I’ve visited.

Too many images

As Krita hacker, I love to see what artists do with the application we’re creating. And they are doing some truly awesome things… The upcoming Krita 2.5 splash screen is a good example. But I’m still having flashbacks to what I wrote in 2007. Producing images is an industry, and Krita does its bit: we really focus on removing productivity roadblocks for artists, all the time. So there can be more images of unsuitably clad fighting women, as David Apatoff reports from the Comiccon.

But the fact is that we’re simply drowning in images. Just check this blog by Matt Rhodes: “I think Internet broke my brain.”

Don’t read on if you’re offended by full frontal male and female nudity.

Continue reading “Too many images”

Sculpture Update

Apart from too much hacking on Krita, I do some other things. Sculpture is one of them, and I’ve blogged about that before, about a year ago. I haven’t been idle since then, though, but I did leave the sculpture class I joined some years ago. I felt I wasn’t really learning the technical stuff I really needed, and then the whole building got redecorated with the result that the room was too dim for me to actually work in. I’ve got a better place to work at home now!

Besides, at the classes, I keep being told “you have so much imagination, where do you get the ideas from”, not to mention some squicked-out co-students. Which in itself inspired “Insolence”:

From insolence

I still need to study, study, study anatomy, but even more importantly, construction. This one, provisionally titled “Not a Sabine” was inspired by my daughters, who still like to be held upside-down. The wax model his since disintegrated because I didn’t make the frame strong enough!

From Not a Sabine

Then I went on, to try to get anatomy more or less right for once, and I did succeed, even if the frame was once again not strong enough!

From Stretching

Then I went to Munich — I think for the Qt Dev Days, and found in the Glyptothek a little statue of a satyr grabbing its tail: the “schw√§nzchenhashenden Satyrn”, which is exhibited on a little plateau that goes round and round. It’s only a fragment, but I was really inspired (also by the Glyptothek itself, it’s one of those small museums where most people come with a sketchblock and just draw). So I made a middle-aged faun grabbing for his tail:

From Middle-aged faun

The gallery definitely isn’t safe for work, that’s why I chose this angle for my blog.

Finally, for the past two months, I’ve been working on a woman drying her hair, mostly because I started sketching one of the random images for speedpainting from a website David Revoy pointed me out. My pencil sketch was bad, my krita sketch worse, but the sculpture is quite strong. In real life more than in the photo, I’m afraid. I’m still pretty bad at shooting pictures.

From Washing her hair, 2

By now, I think that these sculptures are big enough that they cannot be cast with the simple cire-perdue method, but that I will have to create a mold from them, then make a thin wax cast which I can polish/change — the one above would probably improved with a long tail around the base and hair running down her back — but that something I need to learn about. And finding a place to learn turns out to be pretty difficult!



Sculpture post again, since I need to be away from code and hacking for a while. More Krita stuff tomorrow.

Following both the antique tradtion of the spinario (a statue of a boy withdrawing a thorn from the sole of his foot which I saw a copy of in the Irish National Gallery) and female equivalents like Andrassy Kurta Janos’ Taking out the thorn, as well as the many sculptures in Khajuraho depicting a woman taking a thorn out of the sole of her foot, I tried something similar.

From spinaria (only click if not offended by nudity)

My goals here were in the first place to make something that needs to be turned round and round and round — wherever you look, the eye is drawn round the statue. Then, it’s quite a bit bigger than my usual work (and casting will be correspondingly more expensive, I’m afraid). But it’s done now, more or less to my satisfaction, so up comes the next project. It was ambitious, but gratifying, particularly when one of the colleagues at the sculpture classes exclaimed she wanted to look like this thorn lady. Presumably without the thorn in her foot, though.

My camera recognizes her!

At least, it recognizes this portrait study as a face, since it kept popping up green rectangles. And so does Picasaweb. So there, I am making Progress! I still have a lot of trouble doing a likeness of an existing person since I tend to get carried away by cheekbones and so on.

From Halla

I’m also still struggling with making good pictures for my website. Maybe I should convert the sheet of MDF into a box where I can regulate lighting and use some cloth for the background. The album shows a couple of experiments there. This little portrait study was hard to photograph — but the group I did this summer of a woman in labour was even harder. In the end, I made those black & white.

Next (after I return from the Qt Dev Days in Munich) will be following Edouard Lanteri’s lessons — Irina gave me the book (originally published in 1902…) as a birthday present.


I tried to make a portrait of a 3-year old girl — and what do I get? What looks like a 1.5 year old boy. Better try again… Until I figure out where I went wrong.

My own place to work

After I got the cool sculpture tools I mentioned before, I learned that working on sculpture at the same desk I’m doing software development on isn’t nice. For one thing, I prefer to stand when working on something, for another, there’s definitely not enough difference between work and leisure.

So I cleaned out a corner of my den and then I got a modelling turntable for my upcoming birthday. Wonderful, solid beech with a nice surface to work on. Pile on plenty of light, and the fun starts.

From lupa

(As always, don’t go to the series if you are offended by nudity.)