March 16, 2009

Using a frisket to paint

"Cold and Lonely" is the title for this piece. The background sky, snow, and water reflections were painted using an airbrush.

It can be tricky to use an airbrush because when you spray one area, it requires that other areas around it be masked off. In this case, I completely covered the smooth bristol paper with a frisket. A frisket is a clear plastic film that has a light adhesive on one side. Covering the entire sketch, I then used an Exacto knife to gently cut through the frisket film without cutting the paper beneath. First, I used a metal ruler to cut along the four sides of the entire painting. Then I cut along the mountain ridge following my pencil lines. I peeled up only the sky area and sprayed it blue. The frisket masking still covered the mountains and everywhere else.

Once the sky was colored, I replaced the piece of masking I had pulled up from the sky area. Next, the masking covering the mountains was peeled up and sprayed. Replacing the sky-masking kept over-spray from going into the sky. Laying in blocks of color like this throughout the painting is a tedious process. After each section is sprayed with color, all the masking is removed and the fun of adding the details with brushes begins.

Spraying just the right amount of paint is the tricky part of airbrushing. Spraying acrylic paint through the tiny nozzle of the airbrush requires that it be thinned down. Spraying it on too heavy could cause it to seep under the edge of the masking. You don't notice this until all the masking has been peeled up and you suddenly find an ugly blotch of dried paint. In time, I learned to paint in several thin coats letting each one thoroughly dry.

This painting was published in "The Butterfly Counting Book". What does it have to do with butterflies? Absolutely nothing! The author, Jerry Pallotta, thought it would be fun to start this counting book with the number Zero. There are zero butterflies in Antarctica -the only continent where there are NO butterflies.

I decided to title it "Cold and Lonely" because the Emperor Penguin seems like he's all by himself in this cold environment. With the global warming awareness, it could also seem like he's watching his world melt away. What do you think?

The original painting is for sale on my website.
A limited edition of 100 prints are also available.

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