Sue made a comment on the last post that the bamboo would look good printed on silk. It was a timely comment because I had just finished a piece with a background that looks like the piece was printed on silk. I called this one wind.
I’m just stopping by to let you know that the second week of Open Studio at the Digital Art Academy has started, and we are working on sumi-e bamboo. Kevin is processing a video in the background, which means he will probably not pop in and bother me. I don’t want to hang around too long, though.
Here is my first painting for this week. It has more of a digital feel to it than traditional sumi-e, but I liked it. Be back later in the week with more information on brushes.
I love watching You Tube videos of sumi-e paintings. There is something intriguing about the process. When I found out that Open Studio at Digital Art Academy was going to focus on sumi-e, I was delighted. I began to practice.
No matter how hard I practiced, the process felt muddled. Did I just need more practice? Of course, but who has time for practice. Good brush painters hone their skills for decades; I had a matter of weeks. Surely (tongue in cheek) with the right brush I could be a Master in less than a few days. I knew it was impossible, but what else is a hardhead good for, if not for banging it against an impossible goal.
Bang one. What is necessary for a good sumi-e brush? “Kevin?” (Dear reader, I know you do not know Kevin, but if you will bear with me, I’ll make a page explaining all about my computer Kevin, but right now, let’s just chat about the brushes.)
“Many things,” he replied rather too simply.
“Well, duh. You champion the obvious. I’m asking for one essential behavior.” Sometimes Kevin can be so obtuse.
“The ability to load the brush tip with one value of a color and the base with a lighter or darker value. But you will never remedy that conundrum.”
“Exactly, a perfect function of the brush. What? Never remedy? Don’t be rude or I’ll run the CCleaner you hate?
“What we need is the ability to sample multiple colors with one brush, and Painter has that exact function. It is located in the Mixer Pad.
“Aha…you jest. Are you telling me that you can eyeball 50 pixels on the screen? I think not,” he chuckled; well it was more like a giggle.
“No, of course not. I do a little trial and error to get the right range, but most of the time, I leave it at 50 pixels and change when needed. Check this out.
“The slider is set for 50 pixels and I sampled color from just beyond the tips of each arrow. You can see the resulting strokes. Obviously, 50 pixels is not very big; plus, there is a bigger problem. Not all brushes can use the sample multiple function.
“Artist’s Oils Category variants can use the function, but many, for example, in the Acrylic Category cannot. The determining factor is the Brush Dab Type, which can be found in the General Palette.”
Kevin coughed, hacked, cleared his throat; he made a noise, “Sputter. Is this the first time you have mentioned this palette? Will the readers understand what it is?”
“Some, yes; others, no. But I get your point. Explain the General Palette.
“Under Window > Brush Control you will find a palette group consisting of a number of palettes relating to brush controls. The General Palette is first in the list.
“If one of the following four words is listed in the first drop down menu, then the brush can sample multiple colors from the Mixer Pad: camel, flat, and bristle spray. The illustration identifies all dab types that can use this function.
“Bang one resolved. And you said it couldn’t be done. All I have to do is use Camel, Flat, and Bristle Spray Brush Dab Types.”
“You got lucky. There are many more obstacles ahead,” he said with a certain amount of glee. He delights in my struggles. I wonder if all computers are like that, or if I got the only one.
I promised to give you the Eastern Brushes. Download them here.
The Eastern Brushes conversation will continue. In the meantime, you may want to download a free webinar that Karen Bonaker and I did about how to use the Eastern Brushes. The webinar lasted for an hour and 20 minutes, so the zipped file is around 170 MB. You can download it at Painter Talk, but you will need to register. It is a free forum; lots of Painter enthusiasts are members.
April edition of Digital Paint Magazine is available. It is a free subscription.
A few paintings I did in the first week of Open Studio:
Parrot tulips bright
Bring spring inside the dwelling
Winter returns grey
Enjoy and see you next post,
I am so excited. Open Studio starts next Saturday at Digital Art Academy. We are going to study sumi-e painting, which is one of my favorite art forms.
To get ready, I started researching sumi-e by watching You Tube “how to” videos and trying it myself in Painter 11. Guess what? It “ain’t” so easy, at least not digitally. To make life simpler, I decided to create some brushes that I thought would make the process easier. Did I just write that? Anybody got any whiteout?
Simple, easy, and brush creation do not belong in the same paragraph. Brush creation can be frustrating, and it can be satisfying. In Painter 11, there are a seemingly infinite number of controls, yet the one tweak that I need to make the perfect brush is just out of reach, so frustrating. However in the search for the ideal brush for sumi-e, many flawless brushes for different styles develop, which can be very satisfying.
Many does not describe the actual reproduction phenomenon. Brushes ripen in numbers equal to the spore of a mushroom. In case you don’t know, that’s a whole bunch. So, I need to cull and name. Have you ever tried to name a brush. Think about it. It has a stick and some bristles. What do you name something like that? If you think about it, digital brushes have neither stick nor bristles, but are pretend brushes. The difference between digital and traditional will have to wait until another day, besides, the function of the brush is most important.
I like the name of the brush to reflect its function, but that isn’t always so easy. In this current set, I made a brush I called curly leaf because it made a curly leaf. But then I proceeded to make 11 variations of that brush, each called curly leaf followed by a number; curly leaf 1, 2, 3, etc. I know, it is not very original, but in the heat of tweaking, naming is not a high priority.
Tweaking is over; naming and culling are hot. In my last set, I had descriptive names like rouge, powder, lipstick, and I have a mind to continue descriptive names with this set. If I do, there will be names like Iris Blade, Carnation Splash, and Thistle Prickles. I wonder if I have the first signs of dementia.
Okay, so I am naming and culling; luckily, I have experience. I used to raise fancy goldfish. Some babies got named and some got eaten by the Red Oscars. Naming and culling can be brutal. Mistakes will be made.
Here is a sample page of the brushes that have made the first cut, but are yet to be named and still in danger of being culled.
Notice how similar they look at first glance. So, how do I decide who makes the grade. For me it is through application. Normally, I don’t start creating a set of brushes without some idea of their function. In this case, I’m interested in sumi-e. I need brushes that can help me create the essence of a form, without giving too many details.
Want to see some brushes in action. Check out this video.
In another post, I’ll talk about tweaking brushes, but today, all I can think about is culling, naming and getting ready for Open Studio.