Visit Dana's Website by clicking here or on her art (above)
Now Featured at the Red Bluff Art Gallery - the sculpture of "Sculptural Eccentric" Jay Murphy
Dana Eker Beginner's Easel: Getting Started
As originally seen in the Red Bluff Daily News
Today’s economy has most people scratching their heads and wondering what to do. However, being off work has given some people time to pursue personal interests. One thing I hear often is, “I wish I had time to take art classes.” Maybe this is YOUR time to do just that. Go on confess, you have an early piece of artwork you did way back when that you’re pretty proud of. And you would love to do another one. But, where can you go for affordable lessons. What if there was a column in the local paper with simple advice, easy to follow, for absolute beginners? Would that help you out? Oh good, I’d like to be in charge of that column and hope you will join me.
But who am I? Dana Eker is my name and like you, I’ve loved art all my life. Sold my first work at age 15. Student teacher in a high school art class and graduated with an art award. My parents didn’t encourage art as a career. Married and had kids, but still painted. You know what? Kids and oils don’t mix, so I switched to acrylics. Commercial art at Shasta College. Painting, drawing classes at College of the Redwoods and Mendocino College. Prizes at County Fairs. Taught art classes. Prior to moving to Red Bluff one year ago I taught piano in Arizona, still painted. Currently I am painting Red Bluff’s Victorian houses and the Farmers’ Markets in watercolors here in Red Bluff. I’m a member of the Red Bluff Art Gallery. During art shows I often give mini lessons on the spot, anywhere I can get an audience, even here. To start with let’s consider the most popular mediums of painting: oils, acrylic and watercolors.
Oil based paints are bought in tubes and adhere to most hard surfaces and kids (normally it is used on canvas set up on an easel). The paint is applied with stiff bristled brushes or a palette knife (like frosting a cake). Mineral spirits are used to thin the paint and clean up is with turpentine, so it’s a smelly business and I don’t recommend oils for those with allergies. When the painting has dried for several months a matt or gloss varnish is applied. Afterward it can be framed to hang on the wall. Since oils don’t dry very fast it is possible to change your mind by scraping off some paint and reapply it days later when you change your mind again.
Acrylic paints are water based and come wet in tubes or jars. Acrylics are used on most hard surfaces, and canvas set up on easels. Stiff bristle brushes or palette knives are used to apply the color, as with oils. Water is used to thin the paint and for cleaning the brushes or palette. Sometimes alcohol is used to dissolve the paint from clothing and brushes - in desperation. Acrylics dry in minutes compared to oils, but they dry to a darker shade than when first applied wet, so matching batches can be a challenge. Make a sufficient amount the first time and keep it in a sealed container to dip out of later. As with oils, a matt or gloss varnish is applied to the painting after it has dried, a hair blow-dryer is useful. Add a frame or paint the sides of the canvas for the “no-frame” look.
Watercolors are available wet in a tube or dry in pans. Use a wet watercolor brush to apply the paint to paper designed for watercolors. It’s very easy to travel with watercolors, they dry fast so there is no wet paint to transport, no solvents needed, and the dried up paint in the palette can be reconstituted with water. Other tools such as sponges, salt, etc. create a variety of exciting textures. Watercolors will dry several shades lighter, also making it difficult to match batches. Display a watercolor with a frame, mat and glass. To protect the color from fading, avoid hanging your masterpiece in direct sunlight.
With your new found time, I’d like to encourage you to try your hand at art again and see what happens as you enjoy future articles. One thing I advise is to use the best paints and paper that you can afford to buy. Using lesser quality produces disappointing results and wastes your money. Red Bluff has quite the art community and you could be part of it, either by painting or by appreciating.
This article originally ran in the Red Bluff Daily News and is reprinted with their kind permission. Click here to read more Red Bluff Daily News features and get the latest local news.
The Art of Dana Eker