All content copyright 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Keith Russell.

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28 February 2010


I spent a decent portion of yesterday in the studio, working on the fishing lures. I finished four of them, including clear-coating them; I've been asked to re-paint sixteen of them, total, for the client. I'm using Golden Hard MSA Gloss Varnish as the clear-coat, as it is supposedly a very tough, durable (and, water-proof!) finish. I'm applying it with a very cheap brush, but I'm cleaning the brush with distilled turpentine. I've been able to keep the brush clean enough that it remains usable.

So far, so good. (I'll post pictures of my progress, later this evening.)

I'm a bit less than halfway done with these things. I had hoped to have them finished yesterday or today, but that isn't going to happen. I'm going to spend a few hours tonight working on them, and I will be able to get them all done later this week.

They're looking good so far (in my opinion, anyway), so I hope my client isn't too upset that they're not quite done yet.

These are commercially-made fishing lures, made of styrene plastic. (I didn't sculpt them.) I was hired to repaint them, since the original "factory" paint jobs had become very worn, through heavy use.)

25 February 2010

And this, too...

Jack, (copyright 2009 Keith Russell) 12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas...

And this is...

...Carol (copyright 2009 by Keith Russell) 12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas.
My girlfriend has been naming each of these, usually coming up with a name once I get the basics worked out.
She thinks Carol still needs eyelashes; I'm not so sure. (Comments welcome.)

23 February 2010

This is the new stuff...

I began working on a new series of paintings last Spring, hoping to have the series completed in a few months; by the end of last year, at the latest. (I've always been a relatively slow painter; I should have known that making thirteen relatively small pieces would take me longer than that--although I'm actually pleased that I've been discipined enough to continue working on the same series for an entire year!) I now have seven or eight paintings of the paintings finished, three or four well under way, and another two "off to a good start".

My goal is to have the thirteen-painting "Invented Face" series ready to exhibit before this Summer starts. I'm calling these "invented faces", since I'm using multiple references to start each one, but finishing them from imagination. They are portraits in a sense, but not of actual/specific people.
Anyway, this is Adam (copyright 2009 Keith Russell): oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches.

22 February 2010


I haven't worked with my airbrushes in a few weeks. I taught a private lesson in January, but I've been working in oils since then. I've just been given a small commissioned airbrush project, and I've just finished getting the objects sanded, and was all set to start airbrushing. Now, I knew that one of the two tanks of nitrogen that I leased was empty, but I thought the other one was still full, or at least mostly full.

Turns out, it was empty too!

I was really hoping to start airbrushing tonight, having spent the last several days sanding them. I'm working a full day tomorrow, so I'll have to swap out one of the tanks, and get started on the airbrushing, Wednesday evening--two days later than originally planned.

Since I'm working all day Thursday as well, I'll have to work on them Friday, and Saturday. I'm hoping to get them back to their owner on Sunday.

I was feeling really good, like I wasn't very far behind, and would actually get them painted without having to feel terribly rushed.

Not any more...

19 February 2010

Let's get some ART up in this beast!

I applied to the Kansas City Art Institute in 2003, as a "non-traditional" (read: "older") student. I was 37. I knew that I wanted to major in painting, so I was asked to submit a the standard "painting" porfolio, which (the school had indicated) should include 12 - 18 photographs, 18 -24 paintings, and 18 - 24 life drawings.

While I had taken plenty of photographs (including a couple that had won some local awards), and I had photographs of plenty of my paintings, I owned only a couple of my life drawings at that point. So, in the two weeks before my application was due, I joined several local life-drawing groups, and spent most of those evenings making the life drawings necessary to complete my portfolio.

Two weeks later, in the Spring of 2003, I met with a young lady who would start her seniour year at KCAI that fall. Apparently, some people who return to art school late in life have not continued to regularly make art, because before we sat down to look at my portfolio, she asked me if I had brought any "recent" work. I told her I had pieces close to two decades old, plus one piece I had just completed the week before--and plenty of artwork completed throughout the time between.

She was visibly relieved to hear this, and we had a nice conversation about my work, her work, and the school. On her recommendation , I was accepted to the painting department as a sophomore (and awarded a partial scholarship).

This is one of the life drawings from that harried, two-week marathon of life drawing: Krystle : 11 x 14", charcoal on toned-paper, approximately one-and-a-half hours.
(copyright 2003 Keith Russell.)

I'm having this piece framed, and it will remain in my private collection.


17 February 2010

What's the best colour?

Asking me certain questions causes my mind to grind to a halt. I don't like it, and I'm certainly not proud of it, but it remains true, all the same. Certain questions simply have no answer, and it always strikes me as...odd...that such questions are asked at all--

--and yet, such questions are asked!

An artist asked me yesterday which brushes are "the best". Even if she had asked, "which type of brush is best for acrylic painting on canvas", or something equally specific, the question is truly unanswerable. Artists have asked me occasionally which brand of paint is "the best", or which colour is "the best" for skies, or--worst of all--which colour is "the best".

I tried talking about this to another friend, last night, but I don't think I was very effective in getting my point across. There simply is not a "best" brush, not even a "best type" of brush. Folks who know what they're doing, can achieve far better results with a "medoicre" tool, than a novice will, using a relatively "better" tool.

And, so much of what a person likes about a given material is based on very personal preferences: the way the person works, the other materials they use, and how their materials--as a whole--interact with how that person uses those materials.

What this means is, there is no "best" in any objective sense. There is only what is "best", for you. And, you have to find out what that is, for yourself. No one else can find it for you...thus, to ask someone else, puts that person in a very awkward position.

At least, in my opinion.

PHOTO: My old glass palette, at the old place. The new glass palette is slightly larger than the entire table in all directions! The paints are still arranged with "warm" colours on the left, "cool" colours on the right...

16 February 2010


I found out today that I'm not working March fifth. First Friday. Time to visit some galleries! There are three places I'm hoping to visit--all recommended to me by other artists--that might be a good "fit" for my latest series of paintings. I don't know how close to each other the three galleries are; I might not be able to visit all three of them in one evening. Still, I should be able to check out at least two of them on 5 March.

I'm looking forward to finding out what the art there looks like. Are they exhibiting art similar to my own work? What are the prices like? How is the work displayed? How do these galleries support/promote their artists?

I'm still not sure how to go about actually contacting a gallery, if it turns out that I think I've found one that "feels" right for my work. Finding one that seems like a "good fit" is the first step.

The Face paintings are coming along (although I'd hoped to have all thirteen of them completed months ago). I have four of them completely finished, three others very nearly so, and three others "well along"--leaving only two that have yet to be started. Not bad. Tonight, I'm going to work on a painting that isn't so far along; try to bring it pretty close to being finished.

(And I need to work on the commissioned project, too.)