October 16, 2017

Surfaces, giclee transfer process for "Colour" exhibit

Surfaces, & giclee transfer process 

for "Colour" exhibit

below is a description of how I turned my digital paintings into hangable - fine art! 

East Facing at Dusk in Aberdeen
340 x 260

This painting I did a sketch for sitting in my car one evening recently. I refined throughout from that moment until I delivered it to the gallery, working digitally and ending with paint overs in oil on top of transfer glaze. That is the stuff that is left on my prepared panel once the paper is rubbed off. 

So there are quite a few steps here, starting with painting on loaction using mostly procreate and adobe sketch on my ipad. Then they are 'printed', but not in any conventional sense either, by way of a bit of a gluey sort of compound (Dont get it on your hands, trust me!) but which is oil based. This "film" pressed to the panel is my Giclee. I work on top of this with more paint.

A print being revealed underneath rubbed off paper, adhered to the panel.

The print grade is standard lazor, but good on thick printing paper. In using this technique its not the quality or thickness of the paper thats important but rather the layers of glaze used. I found two sufficient depending on how well they adhere (it can tend to bead on certain papers). This is spunged onto the print. Once again, the under panel is fundamental as you will see through the glaze to the underneath, white painted and prepared well if at all possible. I think Ive explained my process on preparing these (surfaces/panels) in an earlier post. One can work with the transparency potentials here.

Its important to get all the paper off properly and this takes getting the knack of. Above is a close up photo of a portion of my painting showing a spot of paper that I didn't get off early enough, (I had already rubbed linseed oil into the transfer once printed to the panel), so a cautionary there but which I accepted later as a textural element. The linseed helps bind the print (in theory) and makes it wonderful to paint onto too. I apply two or three coats and polish in. And then work over as much of the surface as I can, matching colours and glazing with my medium. I am able to completely change a piece in this way as oil paint is after all a good opaque medium. In some cases I do, as the initial print is just a very rough sketch. Its quite rewarding to do, especially for me since I am always conscious of the overall concept starting with sitting in front of my subject, and at times the painting is even worked with in reverse (when printed to paper) and also covered up and gradually revealed. It all worked out wonderfully, andonce again was thrilled to be a part of the group exhibit.

"Neu Bethesda morning light"
240 x 250
giclée and oil on panel

Paintings for the "colours" exhibit can be seen on my  main page above.  

August 13, 2017

Pinnacle Point

Pinnacle Point
Digital Sketch

The above is an example of a digital sketch done from life, this I can now print out and do a transfer of onto panel if I so choose, the sketch gives me all the necessary information I need to take it to completion. The atmospheric conditions, and basic hue, plus shape language of the forms and lighting. Its beautiful, this area was once an indigenous peoples fishing trail, and a tremendous hike you can take now days. I am yet to venture but it is one of many in SA I would probably want to recommend.

August 10, 2017

Vervits of the Karoo

Mostly napping vervit troop
Vervit above and below

I very happily had occasion to accompany some students in a near by reserve who are studying these vervit monkeys, thanks to them I got really close and with some real gusto put colour to paper. Top two images. 

Where I live they frequent my compost bin which suits me as most folk would sooner send a flying bullet to save their lone lemon or apricot. Its nice to know they have the attention of academics and not just me. When I first moved to town I got a couple of tiny watercolour interpretations in (below). Just a dab of sienna and a dark cool grey (probably paynes) to accent and create the form. Simple is always most effective. 

Im hoping to do more finished pieces soon and will include reference photos and perhaps a video then. I really want to move toward animals in the next while, especially considering the design I will be doing for a public wall. And in an area where these little guys thrive. They (males I suppose only) have seriously bright turquoise testicles! Ill add a little more information on the next post, as they are very fascinating and there is much to tell in fact. 

August 09, 2017

Its My Birthday!!

I started this blog 10 years ago today, with this little post. I remember well, sitting at the video store on Rosmead ave in Cape Town where I was working (humble beginings!), we had just been taken over by a new owner and so had also gone online with a new system. I had managerial privileges and got to scoping out the options. I could once program with GWbasic but it had been some years since then and without a computer. These things develop fast! I opened a FB account and got my blogspot account linked to my email. Google is a little evil in this way since its not made one update or improvement to the blogger app in the last 10 years that I can tell. That means for someone without much "coding" or web designing savvy I think I have fared well.

Honestly I have also just recently really begun to make sense of the whole Photoshop realm, (thank goodness) and this is helping tremendously with the digital side of my work. I can even make a little gif file as you see, It is really a demonstration of the surface (following my last post) on top of which the little animated armature (happily) sits. So I use a base paper grain/texture/surface and the rest is layers set on multiply, a little focal colour/light and that is it!

Quite extraordinary how things change though, and the world we live in seems so different to what I may have thought 10 years back. Its especially evident in these 'environs', facebook and so on. Everything gets posted online, and networks of people share and comment but perhaps are actually interfacing on a physical level less and less.

FB had the first ingenious closed network system. One of a kind, works seamlessly with all other web content now days. Google started out providing a more autonomous blog platform but simply and seemingly recalled any energy spent on it, instead bolstering their own type of closed network, ie google + . I dont think it will get the same traction, trying for the same market, but of course they are the no.1 search engine, always accumulating information. The biggest 'Machiavellian' baddie of all perhaps. So that without it the web becomes inaccessible. And its just a search engine!

Who will be the biggest, most powerful player in the game for the great pseudo brain we all use these days? If you were a big global multi corp like them what would you say? Hmm I wonder.

 It is certainly the age of information. People are sold hook line and sinker by the rabbit hole searches they go down. Critical thinking we were taught in science class out with the bath water. Anyway..

Aberdeen Street Scene in Watercolour

I have quite a few projects coming up. Painting the karoo scapes, peoples and experience! I will be adding more videos and demos, and many surprises as my creative process unfolds, music even, very exciting. The right sidebar is already full of specific topic lists to look up under and a resources section I will be adding more to in time.

Everything is my own, the idea; of Curt-mart or C-mart is a sharing of information specific to a particular creative process, and its for FREE and with not one bit of hidden ulterior motive (vein glory included). Also the word ART  is a vaguely construed word for me, embedded in my name, and a further premise for the conversation and title. What is art? Hmmmm,? A good question!

I will be sharing more content on Facebook, twitter and Instagram etc, so please join me there too. Here's to 10 years .. the best is yet to come.

August 03, 2017


Surfaces 4 fine art

Surfaces for fine art 


I recently began a series of pieces for the new group exhibit in our area for which colour is the theme. Imibala is the word for colour in Xhosa, and the name of the gallery group also, so this will be a great joy to be a part of. Dianne the curator in charge liked my digital paintings and so I had to figure out a way of presenting these, as 'fine art'. This is my quest and learning curb of late. And I'm happy to share a bit about it.. 

Two things I've been grappling with and wrangling the essential truths from, I can now begin to topic and expound more on in the future too. These are: surfaces and transparency vs opaque media. How exciting. 

Before having the opportunity at Imibala my attention was quite absorbed in watercolours and also as it functions for me wanting to paint on location, en plein air and as this understandably is the exciting part of making pictures, landscapes probably most often but however the subject is found. Because I'm there in the hot seat or cold, icy. And anyway that's another topic but I maintain it in itself, being there, is almost the whole and best part of it, and then just painting! 

So really understanding my mediums is critical on a practical level and obviously in  the traditional application as it were. But having the digital option also frees me up to less of the hassles (and serious considerations) of traditional painting on location, and straight back into a traditional means perhaps of displaying and presenting the digital painting. This becomes a giclée, which I try not to say out aloud too often but is a print without too much hassle over definition, a print sold as fine art more precisely. 

4 boxed and primed wooden panels

What I opted for was to build boxes for the print transfer and this implies preparing a surface, and that is the whole chestnut! 

A surface to an artist is like the actual instrument to a musician perhaps, it is the pure potential and free expression. I'm speculating here of course but I recon it's one of the top best things ever! So, let me elaborate. In case your still reading, that is. 

My surfaces are made from a standard white glossy coated Masonite you buy at any old hardware place, and pine or similar  strips to box the edges, so that the pieces form a nice 'canvas' which is easily displayed. I glue and clamp my sides and it's a question of accurate measuring, cutting and then sanding, then priming and resanding and finally painting. The end product is evidence of the effort put in. 

1st coat oil paint
2nd coat oil paint close up

Along the way I was struck by the sublimity of this process, also conscious of other types of surfaces (i.e. water colour papers) or those for opaque media, the similarities and differences but almost finding a deeper knowledge of the whole bigger creative act. It's bonkers I know and so AWSOME! If you haven't ever dragged a brush loaded with oil paint over a primed surface and then sat to think about the next step, I highly recommend it. 

You have to make the materials yours, and eventually settle on the result, it is actually so wonderful how they all interact and then that is just the begining, thats just the beautifully textured and vibrant surface. What next? Well, a photo and perhaps photoshop? In this case my surfaces had to be pristine, and thus requiring the intensive covering but I still ended up with lovely texture and edges as you can see.

The finished surface of a single panel

I keep up to date on the technical front and have noticed the improvement in painting apps, Adobes new products are a whizz to feel after trying my share of different types. Frankly I invested in my iPad at the time expecting the gap in the market to close and be breached between the unhappy idea of pen-mouse options and on the opposite end professional and very expensive Cintique touch screen devices. 

Anyway I've been hearing allot about brushes, what about surfaces? I am uploading a variety of surfaces I have captured and edited for anyone to have and will also put them in the sidebar (link below).  

July 25, 2017

forms in landscape

I used Adobes marvelous new 'sketch' ap to do the above.  

Landscape is as much about form as say, figurative art or any other catagory of subject. For me what may be of foremost interest even, and when making a picture; composing so that this remains the focus. The forms, of say ancient Karoo dolomite or an indigenous plant like the Aloe. 

Watercolour and acrylic on paper 5" x 4"      

June 10, 2017

House in Aberdeen


A pure Watercolour approach, painted plein air at mid day in winter, last year!! ..


Digital Sketch 1 and 2

 Ornament on a table

Scene by a waterfall

May 17, 2017

asante sana watercolours

This little sketch was done in watercolour on the side of the road with my straw hat on and, I think, a mixture of tubes and cakes on stretched paper. That might make more sense to fellow watercolourists though!? Honestly I use both, of course each has its advantage and I quite like that the old masters were confined, for the most part, to the 'cake'. I have lots, of full and half pan ones as well as other sorts in different grades of expertise and 'light fastness' all depending on what its constituents are. 

Whatever paint you cant use on the spot ultimately dries and becomes a cake anyway, especially out here in our climate! Some of these pigments and binders need to be splashed around and experimented with at least once to experience them first hand and notice how they all vary. I quite enjoyed painting this majestic scene, and rather hope the subject and the composition conveys that . 

I enjoyed it so much I went home and did a painting in monotone, that is; one tone only, using two tubes, however; this time (sepia and titanium white) to achieve a more considered piece limiting my pallet so as to really understand my mediums. My focus was on the depth, of course values and the overall mood, that to me is vital in my expression of the landscape. Now for the same with snow!

bonus 'process shot': first transparent sepia wash

May 06, 2017

Colours on the road

watercolour on paper

Welcome to the wilderness of Africa!

Photos can be so dissapointing, but I include this one because a panaromic can atleast be inspected closer, and seeing the sum 180 degrees at once is also sort of close to describing the impact of the location.

I have traveled a bit up and down, within our borders. Not nearly enough, but I have seen some of it, and enjoyed it. And to me its quite important at the moment in handling the landscape. My point is that it is so extraordinary to see these landscapes, and feel the mood of them. Of course light and thus time of day, everything considored, I am not sure that many greater pleasures await me ahead, than getting down to it and painting, on location, in whatever medium.


Recently, I had a good deal of fun and did some painting at ‘Asante Sana’ (of Lion King fame), a Swahili word for ‘thanks, or thank you very much’. Also ‘jambo” as in howsit! or habariaco is ‘how are you’. Anyway, Forgotten St. Petersburg (renamed Asante Sana), which in part turns 200 years old very shortly is just three hundred stone throws from the (R63) gravel road, as the crow flies going north. This area is a constant inspiration. It is peace and quiet and a blanket of beauty.

Here are the co ordinates.

The park is nestled at the very end, in a cul-de-sac of mountains, right under the Sneuberg range, who's peaks are laden with snow come the winter time, a famous landmark of the old frontier. It is a timeless and present place.

I was kindly taken into this lovely setting by the most unlikely of people, a household of very proficient creatives and friendly conservation enthusiasts, monkey and baboon types and some normal ones. All very hospitable and awesome. It has been so wondeful, so just in way of thanks as well to those who may read this, Asante sana!

photo by Kitty Viljoen

Now on to art.
Feeding grounds

This sketch is done plein air, fairly saturated washes of colour, from the tube this time, but quite soft due to my working it more and more wet, making the most of the atomizing spray-bottle I had on hand. A very crucial watercolour outdoor or anywhere painting tool to be sure. 

I thought about just adding maybe; a Rhino but then decided it was better left as said!

18.5' x 10'
Reserve view at Dusk

This one was done very much on the spot, and that was at the top of a little elevation overhung by trees (for neutral light to paint under) on the side of a road, and looking streight across at the Sneuberge. It was framed in leaves although I didnt include those, licence they say!

This view and composition was so beautiful to my eye, I simply got stuck in. It was really one of those thrilling moments.

6' x 5'
Peppertree house

On the right, done from photo reference back in the studio of
one of the old cottages.

It was so much fun and in happily recounting it I only hope Ive conveyed at least some practical information, my intention as
always the art and that certainly makes it worth my while!


More on the region and landscapes of the karoo next time.

January 23, 2017

January 11, 2017

Digital still life of a toy car

Procreate, toy car still life.

It (the actual toy!) can be seen on the windowsill at the Blue Door here in Aberdeen, along with some of my origional art too! Not that I am wanting to hype this up either, its just that its well, quite a little town you know! Also the information service / tourism office works out of the very same building, until lunch time (some days) so just in case you are touring the nearby karoo, be sure to stop in. 

More on Aberdeen soon. 

January 10, 2017

Ms De Beers Residence

Here I am at the De Beer Residence in Aberdeen, this proved a challenging subject, and a strange building in hindsight. Many of them are in town, albeit beautiful and of a former time like some sort of spectral trail. I tried my best to capture the morning light and local colours and was also interested in trying to create depth with the trees and the varying tones in foreground and background.

Watercolour on Arche
210' x 160'