Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, but I've gradually been changing my painting method. For the last twenty years or so I've used what Bill Stewart lovingly called the "slop" technique. It's one that works. I start with a white primer (actually I use Testor's flat white spray enamel.) From there painters use a system of washes over the white. The wash is heavier than a black wash; it's enough to add color and fill in creases in the clothing. If it's too light then the painter can simply add another coat. Using a clear matte stablilizes the pigment and makes the wash or stain color less likely to separate. I use a Liquitex clear matte-I think I have a lifetime supply.

The last couple of years, however, I've been headed in a somewhat different direction. I've continued with the white primer because of how it brings out the color. I've started doing more traditional painting with highlights and dark colors in the creases. One of the reasons I went this way is because so many of my favorite colors disappeared. I used to use Polly S, and then they changed a lot of their color formulations. I was also fond of many Ral Partha colors, but they might as well be gone. I'm pretty much left with Vallejo-which I like a lot, but they're pretty expensive, even if they do last forever. Craft paints, such as Ceramcoat, are okay, lots of colors, but not a lot of pigment to cover with.

I dunno. Some of my favorite figures work fine either way-the Front Rank AWI figures are full of uniform creases and valleys; they do really well with the slop, but they are great with highlights too. I've been painting Perry HYW and AWI figures. The AWI figures aren't so great with staining. They're delicate with very fine creases, so highlighting is best with those figures in order to create a contrast.

I've pretty much taken to highlighting for bright colors-blues, reds, and greens, and I'm still staining browns and grays. My very best figures were my AWI figures from Enfilade II some 18 years ago--they were all stained. It's interesting, that as I can ready to paint some more Americans from that same period, I'm trying something altogether new. And I'm excited about it.

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