The October 2017 Smart Art Box: We Finally Played with These Awesome Acrylics!

What came in the October 2017 Smart Art box.
What came in the October 2017 Smart Art box: brushes, one canvas, three pouches of Sennelier Abstract acrylic paint, a set of eight nozzles for those pouches, and an instruction/information pamphlet. We replaced the included canvas with two 8″x8″, pre-primed canvases from our local Blick (née Utrecht).

2017 was one hell of a year. You all know most of the awful that went down last year, the stuff that has had an impact on a global scale. But it was a difficult year for my wife and I to get a lot done on a personal level, too, because of changes at her job. She had to make three trips to Wisconsin, learn SQL, learn some other stuff, study a lot, take several tests, earn several certifications, and work as part of a team to smoothly transition a hospital and medical school from one medical records system to another.

Our materials are all laid out.
All laid out. In addition to the Blick canvases, I brought my tube o’ brushes to the table. (And that table, by the way, is gloriously covered in a disposable paper tablecloth with plastic-like backing, mostly so I don’t frustrate my wife.)

It wasn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.

My big brush.
This brush looked more my size for initially covering the canvas. I suspected that a bit of yellow ink stain on the bristles wouldn’t matter much when working with heavy-bodied acrylics.

But 2018 has arrived. That transition has been made, smoothly or otherwise, and over the four-day weekend my wife had for Christmas, we finally got a chance to dig into the pile of Smart Art boxes that have taken up residency in our dining room.

Sennelier Abstract in purple.
This is Sennelier Abstract paint in purple. It spreads on canvas wonderfully.

Because it struck us as a less-worry/more-fun sort of scenario, we opted to do the October 2017 Smart Art box, which featured Sennelier Abstract acrylic paint pouches.

A squirt of Sennelier Abstract in vermillion.
This is a squirt of Sennelier Abstract in vermilion, directly from the pouch without any nozzles attached, against a canvas swirled with purple and titanium white. I just really liked the shape of this squirt, and how visually obvious it is that Abstract is a yielding, pliable acrylic.

This was my first time playing with heavy-bodied acrylics since probably sometime in the 1980s. I didn’t know how to properly use those acrylics back then. I don’t know much more now. But I do know that pouched Sennelier paints are smoother, creamier, and way more fun to work with than those other, tubed acrylics were back in the day.

Wet, mostly finished, canvases painted with Sennelier Abstract acrylics.
These are our (mostly) finished canvases. Mine is the redder of the two, while Linda’s incorporates more purple. Linda liked using the various nozzles that came with the paint pouches. I liked using the simplest nozzle for making distinct lines, but my favorite tool on this project was an angled brush. We would both decide, later, that the edges of both paintings needed to be finished, and I would decide to add more white to my canvas.

Linda also enjoyed the Sennelier paints. Her point of comparison was to cheap, bottled acrylics, rather than stiff, tubed paint. But we both noticed the differences in working with Sennelier Abstracts, and we both agreed that we love this paint!

Linda and I with our paintings.
Linda—she’s the one in the apron with the “L” on it—and me with our paintings, before the final touches would be made. Even when working from the same source material, as was the case for this project, our end products end up nothing alike. If you want to see more of how our perceptions and expressions differ, see here, here, here, or here.

We both also agree that we’d like to add black, blue, and yellow to the trio of colors from the Smart Art box, and that we want to paint more canvases. We painted these first pieces on Christmas day, and we viewed doing the project as a Christmas present to ourselves and each other—but especially to ourselves as a couple.

Linda measuring where our new paintings will be hung.
Much like painting 8″x8″ canvases with small brushes, I lack the patience for measuring and hanging small works together in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Fortunately for me, my wife has more patience than pretty much anyone else I know. (She also has a spirit level, and she knows how to use it.)

Our new paintings finally took their place in our living room mini-gallery on New Year’s Day, and now we’re itching to make that gallery grow!

Our new paintings are hung.
Finally, our new Sennelier Abstarct acrylic paintings are hung next to one of the bookshelves in the living room, just above an acrylic piece that Linda painted as part of a team-building exercise at her work. We’re completely cool with hanging our own work, and are in fact currently having our ink drawings from the July 2015 Smart Art box custom framed!

Kudos to Smart Art for introducing us to a lovely paint that we might never have otherwise tried, and to Sennelier for making that paint in the first place!

Slowvember Suddenly Dawned on Me

There are two pictures today, because my Slowvember project has gone from “Hmm. What should I draw?” to “Oh! What am I drawing?!?”

Gold-edged art board with t-square, traingle, compass, eraser and drawing pencil on a black surface.
My Slowvember 2017 project-in-progress: previously-inked Canson Fanboy Manga Art Board with Wescott 12″ Junior T-Square and C-THRU triangle, Blick Large Spring Bow Compass and eraser, and a Derwent Graphic 2B pencil.

Yesterday, I had no idea what I was going to draw for this project. I responded in a logical way: I broke out the drafting tools.

I divided the art board roughly in half—both horizontally and vertically—with a t-square, traced the inside and outside of a triangle from a few positions at every innermost corner, and made circles with a compass at random intervals.

This was my first time using a Derwent Graphic Pencil, and possibly my first time using a 2H. I’m not a big fan of graphite, but I liked the feel of this pencil, and I’m hoping to give the 8B that came with the set a run once Slowvember runs out. (I also had to check out Wikipedia’s information on pencil grading, because—again—not a big fan of graphite.)

Derwent Graphik Line Maker pen on a gold-edged art board with black lines suggesting mountains and either a sunrise or sunset.
Lines suggest forms. Derwent Graphik Line Maker 0.5.

Once I was done playing with the drafting tools, I began inking the lines that I was sure I wanted to keep and use. The obvious shapes were a flat, jagged, mountainous form and a 3313 RPM vinyl record, the latter of which could easily be mistaken for a sunrise or sunset.

The challenge, then, is to take those conspicuous shapes, use them, and find a way to make them become more than what they obviously are.