Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for August, 2010

33 things you didn’t know about me.

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Inspired by a post from Lisa a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on this for awhile, but waited to share it with you while we’re on a break from painting. I chose 33– one thing for each year.

Me at 10 in the top right. Year 1 of braces (see #18)

1. I lived on a ship in West Africa for nearly four years. It was a hospital ship, but I served as a teacher. It is still one of the most significant things I’ve ever done with my life.

2. I like the taste of almost everything. Except beer with lots of hops. It tastes like soap to me. I also don’t like raisins, but that’s more of a texture thing.

3. I’m left-handed. In 2nd grade, my teacher tried to make me switch, so I wrote with my left hand when she wasn’t looking and my right hand when she was nearby. I’m still pretty good with both, and sometimes when I’m working on a painting, I’ll switch hands so that I can get a better angle.

4. I moved 10 times before I was 10. I was always the new kid in school, and I hated it. But now, I see that all that moving made me easily adaptable for things like living on a ship in West Africa, or moving from Seattle to Portland with 3 weeks notice.

5. I didn’t learn to tie my shoes until I was 30. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that I was really happy with slip-on shoes for a long time.

6. I love my bike. I bought her for 30 bucks on Craigslist. It’s the best $30 I’ve ever spent. She has a basket, and an orange bell, and I named her Eleanor. (I don’t normally name inanimate objects, but that’s how much I love her.)

7. I was named after a horse. When my mom was a little girl, she had a horse and named it Julie, but somehow there was a typo and the “u” turned into an “o”. My mom loved the name, and remembered it. Today when she tells that story, she always ends by saying, “I loved that horse.”

8. I made a list of 30 things to do while I was 30– and with a little help  I managed to do all of them. Which still makes me ridiculously proud.  And grateful.

9. The list included learning to tie my shoes, riding a roller coaster, seeing the Grand Canyon, a hot air balloon ride, and jumping rope 100 times without stopping.

10.  My favorite color is orange. My raincoat is orange, my wallet is orange, my favorite scarf and pair of shoes are orange. I have to be careful to not wear them all at once, though.

11. I decided I wanted to be an artist when I was 7. My grandfather said, “Why don’t you go in to Real Estate instead? There’s more money in that.” I wonder if he’d say that today?

12. I also got myself a French-English Dictionary when I was 7, in an attempt to teach myself French, because all artists live in Paris, right?

13. I don’t like to sweat. And living in Africa for four years just confirmed that even more.

14. My most memorable meal is a Nutella filled crepe eaten as I walked along the Champs Elysee on New Years’ Eve 2006.

15. I love to cook. Though Chris and I had been married for nearly 10 years before I learned enough to make a decent meal.

16. I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird more than 19 times. It was my favorite thing about being a high school English teacher.

17. Another fun thing about teaching high school English was reading Julius Caesar and planning the reading so that we read the assassination on March 15. I planned the entire curriculum for the year around that date.

18. I wore braces for 5 years and 11 months (and 17 days, not that I counted).

19. Chris and I met for the first time two months after I got them off, and he was the first person to ever tell me I had a pretty smile.

20. Of course, I had to marry him.

21. If I had to live anywhere other than Portland, I might choose South Africa. It’s amazing.

22. Though my retirement plans include a chateau in Switzerland with a French easel under a tree where I can paint the same view over and over and over.

23. The shoes that never fail to make me happy are Converse All-Stars with sparkly stars all over them. (And I’m very proud of the fact that I tied them myself. See #5.)

24. I get irrationally angry over public cell phone conversations. I don’t care about your weekend plans, your family drama, or how drunk you were last Friday night. I’m on the bus and want you to hang up the phone. Now.

25.  I don’t watch TV. Unless I’m at the gym, and then I’ll stay on the elliptical machine for more than an hour so I can watch the Food Network. Something about the Barefoot Contessa motivates me to keep going.

26. I knit. A lot. On the bus, waiting in line at the bank, even while reading. It keeps me sane.

27. So I never understand when people say, “I’m just not patient enough to knit.” Seriously. I knit because I’m impatient, people.

28. My cat is named Liberia, after our favorite country in Africa. Though we call her Libby.

29. I’ve been to 51 countries. Though in this family, that’s not really considered well-traveled. :)

30. I’m vegan-ish. For me, that means I don’t eat meat ever, and I avoid (though not strictly) dairy and eggs. But if I’m coming to your house for dinner, don’t stress. I’m flexible about the dairy and eggs, because I know that if you’re not used to cooking without them, it’s kind of hard.

31. Surprisingly, the hardest thing about being veganish is not giving up ice cream (because there are so many great substitutes), but cheese. There’s just no good substitute for Brie.

32. I’m a terrible Scrabble player, because I’d rather come up with a really great word, than get more points. Strategy isn’t really my strong suit.

33.  My favorite season is Fall. I love the change and the colors. And getting a chance to wear all the sweaters I own. (See #26.)

Saturday Tutorial: Brushes for Beginning

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices out there. Especially with brushes. There are just way too many options.

Obviously, if you’re in a class, then the teacher is going to have some recommendations, but if not, then here’s a good list to begin– just the very basics.

Start by reading last week’s tutorial, so you’ll understand the terms I’m using here, and of course if you see a brush that speaks to you and isn’t too expensive, buy it. Just be careful– I have way too many brushes that I bought as a beginner that I never use, but chose them because they were pretty in the store. You don’t want gorgeous brushes. You want good, reliable workhorses that will help you create gorgeous paintings.

If you have $20 to spend on brushes buy these:

1. A size 8 hog bristle flat like this one.

2. A size 6 hog bristle round like this one.

3. A size 8 soft bristle synthetic like this one.

4. A size 4 soft bristle synthetic like this one.

Each of these is going to be less than or around five bucks. They’re all pretty small brushes, but I’d start here. If you’re going to paint larger canvases, then of course you’ll need larger brushes.

A word to the wise: Always paint with the biggest brush possible. Just trust me.

So as you’re ready to invest a little more, then you’ll want to buy a few more sizes of each shape. Don’t be afraid to go big with brushes. You’ll also want a mixture of synthetic and natural bristles, especially until you’re more familiar with what you like. Just keep trying lots until you find your favorites.

My favorites change regularly. Especially since brushes seem to be discontinued as often as china patterns or my favorite lipstick shade. For awhile I loved the Grumbacher Renoir Bright in size 8. But then it was discontinued, and then I found an Raphael filbert that had just the right curve to it, and it was discontinued. I’m currently passionate about my new Escoda sable, but that will change too. Different paintings need different brushes. Different painters need different brushes. Experiment. Find the ones you love. Then come back and tell me about them. Because I’m always looking for good brushes.

Saturday Tutorial: Choosing Brushes.

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I’ve had lots of questions about brushes lately, so I thought I’d quickly cover some basics today and then we’ll do another video tutorial next week. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to brushes for oil painters here, but most of this information applies to almost any other kind of painting.

There’s a lot to know about brushes. And yet, once you know it then it becomes pretty simple. It’s a bit like Harry Potter choosing a wand– the most important factor is how it feels when you’re using it. And armed with the right information, you’ll be able to make magic with these brushes, too.

Most brushes are built with a handle, a ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles) and the brush head (which is another name for the filaments or the little hairs). When buying brushes you want to pay attention to the handle and the ferrule first. Is the ferrule wobbly where it attaches to the handle? Pick another brush. Is the paint chipping from the handle? Pick another brush– this likely means the wooden handle has been exposed to water and will swell. Handles are longer for oils and acrylics (for painting at an easel) and shorter for watercolor (since you’re painting at a desk).You want a seamless ferrule, made of metal that won’t rust.  This keeps paint and liquids from damaging the structure of the brush.

Now as for filaments, it’s a little more complicated but it still basically comes down to three choices.

Material, Shape, and Size.

Material is first. The filaments can be made of soft animal hair, hog bristles or synthetic materials like nylon. There are advantages to each kind and it’s a good idea to have a few of each in your toolkit.

First, let’s talk about natural. There are two kinds of natural bristles–hog bristle and soft animal hairs like sable. Sable brushes have a nice spring and keep their shape very well. They’re expensive, but when cared for they’ll last years. They are best for details and precision. Hog bristle is usually white in color, and stiffer. They’re good for pushing paint around quickly and leave a distinct mark in the stroke. They’re pretty bristle-y (if that’s a word) and very durable. They work well for large surfaces or for thicker paint.

Most brushes in art supply stores are synthetics. Synthetic brushes are made from nylon or polyester and they’re much cheaper than softer animal hair brushes. For example, I’ve had a combination of synthetic and hog bristle brushes in my studio for years, but just bought my first sable this year. I only own one sable, and I’ve been really happy with my synthetic brushes for years.

A side note: In the store, often brushes are stiff and starched, which helps protect them in transit. Before buying a brush, run it through your fingers and make sure it will hold its shape without that starchy stuff on it. Feel it– if you don’t like the way it feels, pick another brush.

Shape is the second factor in choosing a brush that makes you happy. It’s good to have a variety available, but you’ll find with experience that you prefer certain shapes and sizes.

Here’s a quick diagram showing the different shapes in my brush jar today.

Finally, size. There’s no standardized system for brush sizes. Different manufacturers may each make a size 8 round and yet one will be obviously larger than the other. It’s annoying, but just know that the larger number means a larger brush. Looking through my brushes, I have lots of sizes 4, 8, and 10. You’ll find the size of the brush as a number on the handle, usually it’s close to the ferrule. And in a perfect example of inconsistent sizing, here are these two brushes.

Both round, one is hog bristle and one is my sable brush. They look to be about the same size, yes? And yet, one says it’s a size 4 and the other is labeled as a size 16. Bah. Again, just find the brush that works best for you. Don’t get hung up on size.

Next week, we’ll talk about brush strokes and technique and I’ll offer recommendations on a few brushes for getting started.

Saturday Tutorial: Painting Demo

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I’m kind of excited about this tutorial. It’s really fun to watch a painting develop from beginning to end, and I always learn something from watching others, so hopefully you’ll feel the same way.

This was originally about an hour of footage, and I’ve trimmed it down to just under 20 minutes. There are a couple of places where the audio jumps a bit, and remember, I’m still a video amateur, so don’t judge me too harshly!

I learned a couple of things doing this. One– make sure you charge the camera battery before you attempt to record an hour of painting footage. Two– it’s rather hard to talk and paint at the same time.

I’m starting with a 4×4 masonite block that’s been prepared with clear matte gesso, and I’m using my typical landscape palette.

And here’s part two.

Here’s the finished product. Let me know what you think!

Summer Sunshine: 50

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Last one.

First: This is the last painting of this series. I’m going to take a short break, to work on a couple of commissions, and plan the next project… Stay tuned. I’ll be back in about a week with details about what’s next. And of course, tutorials and the blog will continue.

Wednesday night, once I’d finished my work for the day, I realized I’d been in front of the computer for too long. My head was achey and I felt a little grumpy.

Just as I logged off for the night, I noticed that someone on Twitter mentioned the Perseid meteor shower would be at its peak that night, so I grabbed a blanket and a glass of water and went out on the deck.

And I looked up.

Even with all the lights of the city, the stars were bright and twinkly. I sat there with hopes of seeing one shooting star and thought about how looking at the stars has always been a touchstone for me. As a teenager, I’d sneak out to lay on the trampoline and star-gaze long after everyone else in the house was asleep. I thought about sailing on the Atlantic, seeing the stars so clearly with no other lights around. Looking at stars feeds my soul.

I realized I’d never tried to paint stars. It’s because there’s no way to do them justice really, but I decided to play with it and see what happened.

I came inside happier and headache free. Maybe it was the water, maybe it was stretching my muscles, but I’ve resolved to look up more often.

4×4 Wax on Masonite Panel. $?. You decide. Email me here.

Summer Sunshine: 48

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

One more.

This is the final oil painting of this series. I guess you could say the sun has set on the Summer Sunshine Series. (Ha!)

This one is perhaps one of my favorites from the whole summer. It’s that moment just after the sun has slipped below the horizon and the light softens. It changes really quickly, so painting it is a challenge. I’m pretty happy with it though.

4×4 Oil on Masonite Panel. $?. You decide. Email me here.

By the way, thanks. (Yes, you.) I feel tremendously grateful that you’re on the other side of the screen and you’re paying attention to my work. I’m honored.  Really.
Thank You.

See you tomorrow for Number 50.

Summer Sunshine: 47

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Two more.

This painting is based on a sketch I did earlier in the summer at the coast. The wind was howling that day, but I found a little spot between two hills where I wouldn’t get blown away and I painted while my friends hiked. An ideal Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, this Saturday you’ll be able to see this painting develop from the very beginning in a video tutorial! It’s pretty fun to watch–even for me.

Meanwhile, it can be yours today…

4×4 Oil on Masonite Panel. $?. You decide. Email me here.

Summer Sunshine: 47

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Three more.

Here’s the other half of the Oregon Coast painting from yesterday. You might be able to tell from this that I’m painting Haystack Rock near Cannon Beach.

Here’s a link to yesterday’s painting, in case you’ve just joined us.

And here they are together– you can click through for more detail.

Don’t forget, this is still pay-what-you-will, and both paintings are available!

4×4 Oil on Masonite. $?. You decide. Email me here.

I was profiled on Handmade in Portland yesterday! So cool– go look! And if you’re here because you saw that profile– welcome! Feel free to say hi.

Summer Sunshine: 46

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Four more.

I can’t believe we’re on the final week of this project. It’s gone so quickly! I’ve taken my easel to all over Portland, to the Waterfront, up to Canada and back, and I can’t end this series in good conscience without a few paintings of the Oregon Coast.

I’ve wanted to paint it for awhile, but I only had small panels. Then last week, when I painted four paintings and turned them in to one, I realized I could do the same thing with these paintings. So I dug out those sketches this weekend and got to work.

This is part one of two. You’ll see the other half tomorrow, and you can make an offer on one or both, if you want. Because Pay-what-you-will continues, of course.

4×4 Wax on Birch Panel. $?. You decide. Email me here.

Did you see Saturday’s Tutorial? It’s a video!

Saturday Tutorial– Video! Basic Brush Cleaning.

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Huge Disclaimer: This is my first video post. It’s rough. But I still think there’s good stuff here, so I’m still going to put it out there.

In today’s tutorial, I review some basics. I’m showing you how to clean your brushes. It seems pretty easy to clean brushes– I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking you don’t need to watch a video on cleaning brushes. BUT! There are a couple of handy tricks. You might be surprised.

This first video explains a bit about different types of brushes, and shows you the best way to take care of them when you’re at your easel.

This next video is at the sink, showing the easiest and best way to wash each kind of brush. The challenge was finding an angle that allowed you to see everything without getting the camera wet. So the angle is a bit awkward.

I know, it’s a lot to take in. Who knew there was so much to learn about brush cleaning? Trust me, I’ll get better with the video posts, I promise.