Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Helpful Tool

I want to show you a great way to remove a brushstroke that didn't go well (rather than painting into it again and making a mess of things) or make a small revision of a freshly painted area on your canvas.  It is the Kemper Wipe Out Tool-

Inexpensive and easy to find.  I bought mine at Dick Blick-  and it can be found in art/crafts supply stores.  I keep one in the studio and one in my plein air backpack.  Note that there is a slanted tip and a pointed tip.

I still struggle with the habit of painting into fresh brushstrokes even though I was taught from the very beginning not to do this.  When I need to revise a large area of my painting, frequently the foreground in landscapes for some reason, I wipe the area with a good quality paper towel or rag.  But I often want to make minor adjustments.  Here is an example of how I employ this tool.

This is a work in progress of shrimp boats and one smaller boat grouped together.  After I got this far I realized that the little boat on the left wasn't right.  The hull of the actual boat was much longer and the bow would have gone off the canvas if I had drawn it correctly. Even if it had been a shorter boat I didn't like the proximity to the edge of the canvas. Most likely if framed the tip of the bow would have just touched the edge of the frame which  is not desirable (a "tangent"- always look for them).  The paint was wet and I knew I'd make a mess if I tried to paint over it.  If I waited for it to dry I would have had an unwanted thick brushstroke to deal with.

Here is a close up-

Here I am removing the thick paint on the boat using the slanted tip of the tool-

And here I have removed most of what had been painted between the boat and the edge of the canvas-

With the unwanted paint removed it was easy to repaint that small area.  The boat is closer to the correct shape and the composition is improved (in my opinion).  Some might feel that the little boat leads the eye out of the painting, but the dominant group of large boats keeps my eye on the canvas.  When finishing the painting I will not to do anything that makes the little boat look important.

I had been painting for several years when an instructor, trying to keep us from overworking our paintings, said- "Load up your brush, lay a stroke on the canvas and leave it alone.  If it doesn't work out, wipe it off and try again".  Bells rang!  I didn't know that was allowed.  I was under the impression that painting alla prima (all at once, wet into wet) meant you had to keep on painting into wet paint no matter what.

You can use the pointed end of the tool to sign your name in wet paint.  I especially like doing this on location but I do it in the studio sometimes as well.  I really don't like signing with paint simply because I'm not very good at it.

Signing this way is as easy as using a ball point pen.

Another use for this tool is scratching into paint for fine lines, such as tiny branches or grasses.  I rarely use it that way, but in a few paintings it has been the perfect finish and it is a fun way to experiment.

This is my last post of my first year as a blogger.  I thank everyone who has taken the time to visit and I have appreciated the feedback.  I plan to continue this blog next year and welcome your  suggestions for topics.

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays and Happy Painting!