Thursday, April 16, 2009

In progress: detail of a blue bottle

(A quick note: I'm moving the Photoshop Tips series to it's own blog at; over time I'll rerun all previous tips, and add some new ones. Thanks to followers of those tips and anyone who has new questions for me).

Bad shoulder and all, I have been trying to get a few hours of painting in each day. I moved my palette down a few inches, and the bar on my easel too, so physically, I'm painting from a lower vantage point. I got through the day without screaming, so that's a good start, right?

Here's a recent effort, and yet another attempt to be looser (you masters of elegant brushwork out there: you do know I envy you!). Also an attempt to master my fear of glass (a current goal). It's about 5" tall, and a detail from a 14" square still life with 6 objects in it that I hope to finish this week.

Of course, you know me all too well, I did smooth it out after this.


Another thing I'm trying; I've been mixing paint with my non-painting hand (surprisingly tricky!)-- this save a lot of pressure on the shoulder.

I'm also relying a lot more on my "paint misers": a small tupperware type container with a strip of wax paper that holds extra pre-mixed paint at the end of the day. (I use the kind that lunchmeat comes in at the grocery store.)

Secure the lid and store in the freezer; next day the paint is fresh and ready to use (in a humid climate you could probably leave it out, but Colorado is fairly dry and the paint will dry overnight even if in a plastic container).

In addition to saving money on paint that would otherwise get thrown away (and at $20 and up per tube for some of my favorites, who can afford that?), a lot of mixing time is saved and I can get right to work the next day.


  1. What GREAT ideas! I've accumulated so many of those lunch meat containers, I started to recycle them! Now I can use them after my daughter has her favorite Brown Sugar Ham.

    Great job on the blue glass (my fav). I have to try and paint a vase so I'm studying it very carefully..

  2. R., have you tried the self-adhesive heating pads available in various shapes/sizes at the drugstore on your shoulder? Once when I twisted my back, applying these under my clothing while sitting at the drawing board worked wonders! It got me through my art deadline and also helped to healed the injury.

  3. Wonderful painting! What a bummer that your shoulder is still sore!
    Thanks for the paint storage tip!

  4. Thanks for the tips! Sorry to hear about your shoulder. I see it hasn't stopped you from painting beautifully. Like the blue bottle. Very clean and Glassy.

  5. I had a piece of glass cut to fit inside one of those plastic lidded paint trays (about 12" X 16")to use as my palette. It goes into the freezer after every painting session. I know I have saved a lot of money on paint that way.
    I'm impressed that you can do anything left handed, take care!

  6. Hi Sheila, Thanks and glad you like the tip. Recycling in action!

    Mona, thanks for the hot patch idea. I may try that if this doesn't clear up soon.

    Thanks, Manon and Gwen! Too bad I couldn't leave it alone!

    Dana, I have one of those but the lid is warped; an artist friend of mine keeps six plastic lidded palettes that size in the freezer. If I suddenly win the lottery (that I never play), I may do the same.

  7. thanks for the tip on my blog R.

    You might want to try the Japanese Brand of patch called Salonpas. Sold everywhere now in drugstores and Walmart. Invented in Japan in 1934 yet safe enough I use it for my daughter's sore knees from playing soccer.

  8. Hey aRt, sorry about your shoulder, glad to see you still painting away. I meant to comment earlier about your white lillies, so beautiful and an impressive size!

    I freeze my paint, as well and I also keep needlenose pliers right next to me in order to squeeze out every last bit of paint in the tubes. I'm glad to be a paint miser, too.

  9. Ouch! Sorry to hear you're still hurting. :-( Your bottle is lovely. I like the touch of yellow off to the side. Great tip on the paint storage. Mend soon, R.

  10. No room in our freezer.Lots of ice cream...
    I cover my paint with "Press'n seal. Working just fine.
    Love this blue glass.
    I hope that you are feeling much better.

  11. This is so amazingly gorgeous I stared at it till I was blue in the face!!!! Really , a super job!

  12. Hi R.,

    This poor shoulder. I feel for you. My right (painting) arm is almost useless except for
    painting. My husband hurt his shoulder pushing my wheelchair this summer when I broke my ankle, and I hurt mine carrying too heavy grocery bags when I could walk again, because he couldn't carry them. Ouch!
    I save my acrylics in a plastic egg carton with wet paper towels, then the lids folded over (there are two of them),then the whole thing wrapped up in a plastic bag. Acrylics keep this way for months.

    Take care,


  13. Hi R.,

    I didn't see that this was all one blog. So about the bottle -- it already looks magnificent. How could anyone who can paint perfect roses be afraid of glass? Nothing to it for someone like you.

    I am wishing you healing light for that shoulder.

    Take care,

  14. I am amazed you are getting the results through the pain. Because of an injury I was forced to paint with my non-dominant hand. I learned a lot. It was like watching someone else paint. I still had the knowledge, just not the skill and hand, muscle coordination. The results were uncontrolled yet interesting and exciting. You have to let go of the critic, though. Good luck.

  15. Thanks for the freezer idea. I'd heard about putting oils into the freezer, but somehow the wax paper bit never occurred to me, and seems so sensible.
    DO put some sort of heating pad thingie on your shoulder. Not only does it help, it feels goooooooood during a rainy Colorado weekend!
    I can NOT believe you have a fear of painting glass. You are pulling our leg (in Spanish, taking our hair)!

  16. Hi Angela, have you tried the tube squeezers with the rotating gears? I love mine. Thanks for the compliment, too!

    Thanks Liz; I should have mentioned earlier (added it just now); this is one part of a larger painting. Maybe I should have a contest to see if anyone can guess what the yellow will be!

    Irit, I am SO jealous. I love ice cream but it does not love me. What's up with this whole lactose intolerance thing, anyway??

    Sandra, what a nice thing to say! I was pretty pleased with it too. Wish I could've left it alone.

    Barbara, thank you for your sympathy! It's not so bad, getting better...sounds like you've been through lots worse. When I used to paint in acrylics I'd mix them in muffin tins and store the same way. I like the egg carton idea!

  17. R- I feel for you with the shoulder problems. Such a downer to have these things go wrong. Very limiting. I had such severe problems about 7 years ago that I finally ended up getting a cortisone injection - it made a HUGE difference and things got better very rapidly after that. Hope you get some relief soon.

  18. aRt, love the blue glass. You are so accomplished. I kept staring at the flowers from a few days ago and marveled at how beautifully rendered they are.

    Hope your shoulder is better soon. I've been plagued at times with tendonitis in the shoulders and for me, ice and ibuprofen do wonders. The trick for me is to pay attention to the first few twinges and use the two I's immediately, which shuts it right down.

  19. Great tip about the plastic containers! I don't paint in the studio very much right now but, I can see using this tip in the future when I don't have little ones running around (which is the main reason I paint en plein air).

    Glass is so tricky. you did a very good job on the blue bottle. I do see looser brushwork too.

    I've missed your last few posts and read through to see what happened to your shoulder. Sorry you are in pain, I hope it heals quickly!

  20. Hi Barbara, I do go on and on, don't I? (gotta do something about that!) thanks for the compliments on the glass.. this was one of those times when I stepped back and smiled...thinking...hey, maybe I can pull this off!
    And thanks for the light... I feel better already!

    Pat, Yes, it's different using the other hand, isn't it? I kind of like it, as it forces me to use a different part of my brain, too.

    Hi Jala, I guess one could use disposable palette paper, too, but the wax paper is much cheaper! Now you have to give me the full translation en español; that's not one I picked up in my New Mexican childhood.

    Chris, thanks for your sympathy, ouch! I hope it doesn't come to that!

    Oh, thanks Mary! That's so kind of you!

    Thanks, Kim; I've been avoiding glass for years and now's the time to learn it! It's actually been... enjoyable... I had expected more of struggle.

  21. Very beautiful, R. - I love that you had the bottom half in shadow and the top in light - really nice!

  22. Thanks, Edward! It's sitting on a windowsill, so it's backlit.

    !Gracias, mi amiga talentosa Jala!

  23. Sorry to hear about your shoulder. Hope it will get better soon.
    Love your blue bottle. I can't imagine you having a fear of painting anything. What you show here is all perfect.

  24. Thanks, Akiko, on both counts. (I always love to hear from you.) I guess we all have fears. Facing them is what counts, perhaps?

  25. It was strange to read of your fear of glass because I see you as such a strong painter but that is the beauty of your revelation to us .No matter the level we all have fears sometimes and to push through is key. You're doing great.
    Sorry about your shoulder those heating pads helped mine.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.