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Blending

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Artworks of a chess piece, marbles, fabric and clouds, and paint brushes on a table.

Welcome to this deep-dive course on Blending!

Blending is the manipulation of paint into gradient transitions to create the illusion of texture, volume and space. It’s also known as modelling, and, more colloquially, as shading. A mastery of its subtleties and nuances stems from keen observational skills and strategies around paint handing.

Aside from Colour Mixing, Blending is the topic that students ask me about most frequently—and for good reason! It’s the most difficult painting technique to master, but this course will cover all the bases. The decision to work exclusively in black and white for the scope of this course is a deliberate one, intended to hone your focus on paint-handling, without the distraction of colour.

The exercises on offer will progress in difficulty —for that reason, I advise that you not skip or jump around exercises, as each was designed to build on the principles of the previous one. The main projects in in store for you will also be representational, which means you’ll be producing paintings of actual objects—this absolutely isn’t to say that painting realistically is superior to painting abstractly, it’s just that doing so will give you a more concrete gauge to assess your blending skills—I encourage you to follow your own stylistic path, but to be fully equipped and confident when you do so. Included is an extensive image bank for you to practice and expand all you acquire throughout the course.

 

PAINTS

Black and White (Recommended Langridge Carbon Black, & Michael Harding Titanium White with Safflower Oil).

BRUSHES
A combination of shapes (Filbert, Flat, round), sizes (some very small for detail and some large for large swathes), and hair type (Hog’s bristle/synthe tic mongoose for moving large quantities of paint and softer brushes for more delicate blending).

Neef synthetic mongoose, Neef “Smooshing” brush/Art Basics Blending Brush, and Raphael Karrell takylon filberts/small rounds are favourites amongst students.

CLOVE OIL
Can be found at your local chemist, Kmart , as well as some health food/aromatherapy stores. Make certain that what you purchase is 100% natural clove oil (not imitation or low concentrate). Clove bud oil is fine.

PAINT STORAGE CONTAINERS
Containers must be airtight and the SMALLER THE BETTER. You can actually fit multiple mixtures in each container to take up the air space inside. Containers can be found on Amazon, Officeworks, Kmart, Riot, etc. etc.

PAINT SCRAPER + BLADES
These are used for cleaning your palette. They can be found in the paint aisle at Bunnings.

COMPOSTABLE CLEANING WIPES
These are an absolute lifesaver during clean - up . Do not purchase baby wipes, go for cleaning wipes, such as AJAX Eco - Respect, instead. Make sur e to purchase products that say “Compostable” and not just “Biodegradable” if you can.

SARD WONDER SOAP + MORNING FRESH
Also fantastic for cleaning your brushes. A soap container with a lid is very useful, both for transport/storage of your SARD Bar Soap and for using the SARD Bar Soap under running water.

PALETTE KNIFE
The shape and size of your palette knife (for mixin g and mark - making) is totally a matter of personal preference. Larger knives are used to mix larger quantities of paint and vice versa. However, regardless of which knife you choose for mixing and mark, you need to have one that is SMALL and as POINTED as possible at the tip for paint storage (will demonstrate during the course).

TERRYCLOTH FACEWASHER
Rags are essential while you are painting. Terrycloth is the best fabric to use as a rag as it is the most absorbent. These can be found at Kmart at ridiculously low prices — such as this 4 - pack for $2.50 or even better from an op shop .

CANVAS PAD
It’s essential that its pages are actual canvas (fabric) , not paper made to simulate canvas. Such pads can be found at most art shops and Officeworks. The core exercises will require 10 sheets in total, but it’s always good to have extra on hand.

CANVAS
You will need 2 8” x 8” (20cm x 20cm) square canvases (a third one is optional), and 2 8”x12” canvases. You may use canvas board (canvas stretched over cardboard/masonite), primed wooden panels, or regular primed, stretched canvases.

VISUAL DIARY & BINDER FOR HANDOUTS
For your visual diary, any blank paged notebook will do, although some prefer a visual diary with pages that are made of art - friendly paper. A binder (and necessary hole punch) is a great idea as there is a substantial amount of printed material (binder sleeves are also an option).

GRAPHITE PAPER
The use of graphite paper is an optional alternative to drawing the exercise images by hand/eye.

GLASS PALETTE
6mm is recommended; bevelled or duct - taped edges are imperative for safety. The size is completely up to you and your studio space. IKEA sells glass shelves that make perfect palettes ( bevelled edges and ideal thickness) and are extremely reasonable in price.

GESSO (OPTIONAL)
Canvas pads, canvas boards and other inexpensive painting surfaces can be a bit “grippy”. This can make blending more challenging, so some opt to apply an extra coat or two of gesso (which is a gypsum - based primer) before painting on these surfaces. Either oil or acrylic gesso is fine — the only exception is using acrylic paint on top of oil gesso (but this is irrelevant for the scope of this course, which does not employ acrylic paint). Golden Fluid Matte Medium is another option as well.

RULER

ARTIST’S TAPE

PENCIL

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