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Home FEATURES How Tos Oil Painting Tutorial

Oil Painting Tutorial
Tuesday, 13 June 2006 13:13
Noah Hanson & Jesse Edwards show you from start to finish.

Many Renaissance sources credit northern European painters of the 15th century with the "invention" of painting with oils, although it's popularity really grew during the 16th century in Venice. It's a pretty strange craft with a pretty hefty history. Not to mention all the odd variables that go along with the style, such as the unique drying time, the chemistry of new and old paints, and even the brushes that are used. The oils dry by oxidation, not evaporation, and are usually dry to the touch in a day to two weeks. They are generally dry enough to be varnished in six months to a year, but some art conservators don't consider an oil painting to be completely dry until it is 60 to 80 years old. As far as brush materials, they can range all the way from hog bristle, to squirrel fur, to a flat, metal blade called a palette knife.

As I've mentioned before in my blog posts, I'm not exactly an expert on the subject of what defines good art. I can never quite pin down what's going to appeal to ya'll, but I do often find myself avoiding showing pictures from the galleries I visit that primarily show oil paintings. I think the reason probably is because none of our peers really have stuff in there. I can appreciate the style, but it's sort of hard to relate to a dozen different bowls of fruit, or a bunch of row boats floating around with no occupants. What I'd really like to see are difficult paintings that come from the minds of my friends. It's a super hard craft, but no one should feel like it should be left to only the old-timers. With some practice and the right materials, even you can pull it off.

That's why Jesse and I have put this together. It's an oil painting tutorial of sorts, similar to the screen printing one Skirvin put out, or the ONE SHOT zine tutorial Mimi made a few months back. Over the last few weeks I've been hanging out with my friend Jesse Edwards, who has worked his own visions into the art of oil paintings. Last time I showed Jesse's work on here was for his show, "Thug Pa$$ion." This time around we want to show you, from start to finish, the steps you can take to make your very own oil paintings.

When we decided to make this tutorial, we decided that the painting's subject matter really wasn't the important part. It's more the painting process, and the learning of how to accurately capture a still life. We thought a skull and crosbones might be interesting, so we set out to go jack some supplies. I'll let Jesse jump in now, and together we'll try to explain the painting process from the very beggining.

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I really got into the idea of painting a skull and crossbones, so Noah and I went out and found me some to paint. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, and so we jacked these from an over pretentious art school here in Seattle. Understand, I will let nothing come between me and my vision.

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Well, I will return 'em when I'm done. But for now, they're mine.

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I had to take apart the bones to get at the pieces I wanted, so first I seperated the bones with an electric drill.

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Kewl! I got 'em apart and am now seeing how they look.

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Here I'm arranging things to my liking. I figured out the best way they set together and am totally happy with them.

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Somebody drew all over the bones with a marker, so I had to repaint them back to a white color. Once it dries, I'll start arranging the still life.

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Well here it is for now. I got a skull and crossbones, Havanna out of Black Tail Magazine, a pistol, a black bottle, and some roses I painted black. I think I can work with that. Plus I love painting from Black Tail Magazine. Seriously, there are some beautiful models. You can never find poses like that in artist model books!

Now that it's all set up, it's time to make a canvas for the painting.

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O.K. Here's my equipment I use to make my canvas. Staple gun, tape measure, scissors, masking tape, gesso, and a massonite board to staple it to.

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First thing I have to do to make the canvas is to measure the size of my future painting. It's a good idea to always give yourself a few spare inches of canvas, just incase you make a mistake and make it a lil to small. So, 2 inches extra for streching, plus maybe 3-4 on top of that, just in case. This work will be 22x28. This is the most preffered way that galleries like work to be presented to them. It will look a lot cleaner when it's done, not to mention more proffesional.

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So now I'm using my measurements to cut out the canvas. I think at the time I made it, it was 28x36.

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Cutting the canvas.

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Next you staple the canvas. To do this, start in the middle top, then middle bottom. Next, the left side middle, then the right side middle. From there, work toward the edges with the stapling. Staple every 2 inches or so, until you work your way all the way around. Always staple the opposite side of where your last staple was. Get it?

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It doesn't have to be perfect, but try to make it as flat as you can. Once you begin the gesso painting you'll see it start to flatten out completely.

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O.K. Now that you've got it stapled down, you'll want to mask off an inner square of 22x28. You want this to be exact as possible. I use a painting similar in size, and just work around it's outline with tape.

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Always wear a dirty, old sock when you do this. It is very important. If you don't have one, ask someone for their's. Step down on the tape so it's stuck to the canvas really well.

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Next you apply the gesso, which you can tint with water color or acrylic if you want a colored ground. Here I am using just straight white out of the can. I start by going around the sides, smearing it around with an old business card.

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Then I work the middle. As you're brushing it on, you'll notice that the canvas tightens up like a drum. I prefer to staple the canvas to a board because I like to have a hard backing to my painting. I don't like a bouncy canvas much because I do so much paint scraping, and that streches out the canvas.

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Then I finally use my hands to press in the gesso, just to make sure that it's really on and in the canvas.

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Here I am trying to figure out where to start.

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Ok. Im getting the picture. I'm now composing in my head, and am able to envision these ultra rad objects on my canvas.

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I start my first marks. These are the outer most points of my composition .

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I'm doin' a lilttle more sketchin'. I draw by using a system called triangulation. It consists of checks and balances based on the triangle, and objects in relation to one another. It's really very simple. You master this and you'll become who you want to be artistically. This is where my own strength in art lies.

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I add an apple to balance things out a lil.

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I do some more sketching and feeling around, but then I realize that I've miscalculated the size of this canvas. To make up for it I'll need to add a few inches to the piece. It will work better for me, and it should fit all my objects too.

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So first I take off the tape.

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Now it's completely removed.

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I add 4 inches. Lucky I am hip to this type of move and allowed myself room for error when I first made the canvas.

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Paint the 4 inch piece with gesso.

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At this point I'm thinking I may move the girl over a few inches.

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To do this I erase what I have and restart my picture. To erase the image, I have a rag with a bit of lindseed oil in it. I just scrub it down.

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Now she's a few inches over to the right.

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Still sketching the composition and making a few proportional adjustments.

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I have the basic idea of how things will be placed on the canvas, so now I begin to paint on the background.

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I get the whole canvas covered.

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I like the idea of cutting out the profile of Havanna, a favorite of the rap artist Kool Kieth and 50 Cent alike. This babe is top notch. I love the way these magazines use their lighting, and the girls always have such great poses. I recommend all artists use pornographic material for life drawing models when a real model is not available. The art books are way to conservative. I can't afford to be conservative. Plus this will make painting the black bottle behind her a lot easier.

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There she is, looking like a real high class babe!

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More work on the under-painting.

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Next, more work! I love to paint!

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I seem to have made the canvas too small still! Well, you know what we've got to do. Start to undo the tape.

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Here I cover what I have with tape to protect it from the gesso I'm about to add.

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I measure out 2 more inches.

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Applying the gesso by hand.

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Using a cardboard scraper to smooth it all out.

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All done :-)

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Back to work on the under-painting.

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I'm not altering one section in particular as I do this. It's more of an over all here and there go at it. This is similar to the way the impressionist's would work, although I don't believe they did too many under-paintings. That's more of a classic teqnique.

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Finished. That looks pretty good!!!! Usually I don't have to make as many adjustments, but not this time around. You've gotta do what you've gotta do to get the job done right though.

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This is my palette. It's usually a mess. I recommend you keep your's a lot cleaner than this by scraping it down after every painting jam!

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Here is my paint box. It's a mess too. I usually don't put the tube's lids back on and the paint gets everywhere. You gotta be careful though. Some of that stuff is toxic, so I actually use latex gloves when I paint. Especially watch out for cadmium and cobalt colors, which coincidently are the most intese looking ones.

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Here is how I set up my colors. To start I have Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Orange (for mixing browns), Cadmium Red, and Cobalt Blue. I have a big blob of Titanium White in the middle.

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See how I begin to mix my flesh tones? I use complimentary colors, which means that I use colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel. Blue and orange are opposites.

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From there I use a lil bit of yellow and black to create warm and cool colors, also known as lighter and darker. As a general rule, warm colors come forward and cool colors recede. That is some elementary chiaroscurography (not a real word) right here. Chiaroscuro is defined as a bold contrast between light and dark. I do all this mixing while looking at the subject, and now I have some colors to work with. Let's get started!!!!!!!!

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First I start by applying paint to Havanna's midsection.

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As I'm painting, I sketch her a bit, making sure I pay close attention to proportion.

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Sketch the gun in a bit. You can see how I paint the brush strokes in directions that follow the form of the object, to help give it form and volume.

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A lil apple sketching. I paint a lil here and a lil there, until it all comes together. The under-painting I did before basically provides me with a map of what to go over.

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Now I start on the bone of the skull and cross bones.

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A lil skull action. I love skulls.

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Let me get lil more dome girl!

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Here I am working with a smaller brush all over the image to detail out the piece. The adjustments I am making are small and subtle for the most part.

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I'm just refining and paying attention to details as I go.

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Now I am beginning the background.

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I am using a stipple technique. What this means is that instead of brush strokes, I am doing lil jabes. This makes for a softer looking background.

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By now I've got some more paint on the figures and I pretty much have the entire background blacked in, leaving room for the roses that'll come in later.

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Alright, now that I've got the images down in oil paint, it's time for me to start refining them. I do this by scraping off any heavy paint with a palette knife.

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Here you can see me doing it in detail. You don't have to paint like this, but it's just another method to learn. It helps create a neat texture on the surface and makes the painting easier to work with when it's time to use the glazes!

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Here is the girl. I scraped her bitch ass down too.

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Cool! All smoothed down!

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Here's a reminder of what the still life looks like. I decide to add another black rose to the right side to balance things out a bit.

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Now I'm sketching in the rose. Looks good!

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By now I have the entire canvas covered and am sure of the way the final piece will look! Most importantly, the proportions are strong. I love proportions in art. They decide whether things will look right in the end. Since I've got that all down, I think I'll start to adjust the colors a bit with some glazing.

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Alright, here is my favorite Glaze Medium. 1 part stand oil, 1 part damar varnish, and 1 part turpentine. This stuff is toxic as can be, so make sure to have a fan on when you use it. If you can't find it premade like me, you can always make your own. This is a Old Skool technique. Like back to the almighty Rembrandt and the fabulous still life artist, Chardin. You'll want a softer brush when applying this to your canvas. That way it won't mix with wet/tacky paint underneath it. Glazing will harmonize your colors and make them look complex. To find out what that really means, I suggest you experiment with the stuff on your own :-)

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I mix some brown in with the medium to make a tint, and begin my application at the top left corner.

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The glaze is applyed with horizonal brush strokes, using a soft brush.

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Now I'm covering the skull.

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Now I'm covering up our super babe, Havanna.

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I start to remove any excess glaze so it doesn't create a runny mess. I applied It generously.

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Oh a drip. That won't be there for long.

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I skillfully dab to remove more of the medium. I am doing some shading at the same time.

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Ya, I had to get at those knockers.

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Ok cool fecalfacers and facettes! All glazed for now. This is how you build up layers in oil paint. Next I will paint a bit with solid oil paint, and then I'll have to glaze some more!

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Oh, but first here I am with my bag. I use the bag to squish all the paint together and remove all brush strokes. This makes the image look softer. I like soft.

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The sock stomp!

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All squished out, so back to painting with brushes and not socks.

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Skull face-needs some fine tuning and hard edges.

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Fruit detail-looking good, but I think I'll touch it up a bit more.

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Just about finished.

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Bitch face-I'm gonna rework the high lites on her.

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Here I'm touching things up a bit, particularly the light parts of her cheek and teeth.

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Cool, now I'll get into the background. A bit of blue will look good.

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Alright. I'll go ahead and add glaze one more time for fun.

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Smear it around.

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It's all covered, and already looks way better.

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Ok, now I will add some colors to make things a bit more lively.

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Now all I am doing is little bitty painting adjustments to bring out details, like over on the far right rose. See?

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My view. I'm about ready to quit working on this painting.

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Alright I'm done. I am now taking off the masking tape to give it flat edges.

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Now I have to put it on strecher bars!

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Before Noah and I take off to get those, it's time to destroy the still life! Nasty apple... Noah and I have been working on this tutorial for like 3 weeks, so it's kind of old. I probably shouldn't have done that...

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Now I'm getting some strecher bars from the art store. I need 34's and 22's.

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I see a prospective model by the front of the shop. Game On!

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Ya, she's going to model for me. Easy as that!

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Back to the studio! Now I'm putting the stretcher bars together. All you have to do is slide the pieces into eachother.

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Making sure it is square, hammer each side together with a small rubber mallet.

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Now that the frame's all done, I start to pull the canvas off my board.

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Cool... The staple didn't give and I accidently made a small tear. It's okay though. The latest art trend is to rip your canvas when you remove it from you board. This will be bigger than drips or lil birds ever could be!

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Alright, after you rip your canvas, you tape it back together.

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I use my dirty sock tool for pressure so it really holds down the tape.

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Then I paint the threads a bit. This creates, uh, great texture...

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Now it's time to put it on the frame.

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I get it centered and staple it down to the frame.

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Now I get the sides set and stapled too. Follow the same sort of process as when I stretched the canvas to the board, way at the beggining of this tutorial. Just work your way around.

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Here are my canvas-stretcher pliers and my staple gun. I use the pliers to pull everything as tight as possible.

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This is how I do corners to make them look good. Folding it over is kind of like wrapping a present in paper.

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The finished corner.

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I put some hanging hardware on the inside, so when you hang it, it's flush with the wall.

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String it up.

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Hang it up.

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Alright. Now I just need to sign it. I love to sign a painting. It's like tagging.

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Skull detail.

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Paint could never do Havanna justice.

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Lastly, the apple and the killer 32.

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And here is the end result of all my marking, jabbing, squishing, smearing, stomping, and stroking. Thank you for your time fecalfacers! Now you can go and make your own, and until next time--- SEED ONE 3A BTM REPRESENT :-) {moscomment}

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"Arrangement" by Michelle Fleck
Friday, 18 April 2014 10:23

This morning we take a closer look at this beautiful painting by San Francisco based Michelle Fleck now showing at FFDG.

Arrangement measures 24"x30", acrylic and aerosol on panel - inquires: info(at)ffdg.net

Michelle Fleck is a painter living in San Francisco. Her work focuses on the relationship between man and the landscape, and the marks we leave on it. Influenced by everyday life in the city, her paintings serve as snapshots of an ongoing intersection of the natural and man-made world. She strives to make work that has a sense of relevancy in a culture driven by a need for change and newness.

 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010 16:39


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Jeremy Fish Opening a Solo Show in August at FFDG
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:33

Met up with Jeremy Fish last night to catch up and discuss his upcoming solo show opening this August at San Francisco's FFDG. Don't want to give too much away, but the guy is very busy these days. You know the giant pink bronze statue will be built and installed at the corner of Haight and Laguna welcoming those to the Haight (check) in 2015? Going to be incredible.

Check photos from his last San Francisco solo show in 2012, and mark your calendar for August as his next solo show opens at FFDG.

Beering with Fish at his favorite watering hole, Zeitgeist

 

Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
Monday, 14 April 2014 10:20

Sculpture of Jesus as homeless and sleeping on a park bench is "freaking out" the neighbors of this wealthy NC suburb. The sculptor, who has an affinity for street art, created it to remind us that "We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person." ~READ ON

 

Art or Vandalism? See the World’s First Graffiti Drone
Saturday, 12 April 2014 10:30

I attached a cradle with a spray paint can and other hardware to the drone. I created a series of paintings that are larger, about maybe 3 feet by 3 feet all the way up to 25 feet by 15 feet … And basically, I achieved the perfect air pressure, the perfect weight of the paint and the perfect materials so that the drone didn’t freak out when I attached these mechanisms to it, Katsu said. --continue reading

Think how high those throw ups can be now.

 

OB Shirt by Tucker Nichols
Thursday, 10 April 2014 11:01

Tucker Nichols emailed over this new OB shirt he did for our friends at Park Life which can purchased here for $28.

Speaking of Ocean Beach, if you know, you know, but if you don't... it's not what the average american thinks of when thinking of a California Beach (missing 14 yr. old yesterday). Can't believe we used to drunk naked swim at 3am in the dead if winter... being surfers probably helped us not dying.

 

Open House Sunday - Headland Center for the Arts
Friday, 11 April 2014 16:12

Have you been to the Headland Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands?

Located in the beautiful ocean-side Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Headlands artists programs support artists of all disciplines—from visual artists to performers, musicians, writers, and videographers—and provide opportunities for independent and collaborative creative work.

This Sunday's Open House runs 12-5pm - FREE & DETAILS

 

Is It Curtains For San Francisco's Art Scene?
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:35

We all know that San Francisco is going through aches and (growing?)/ shrinking artist pains these days as San Francisco property values sky rocket due to the tech infestation going on around the entire Bay Area. Maybe you work in tech and love it, but since this is an art website, we're interested to how this is affecting artists trying to make ends meet.

Some galleries have been forced to close due to 300% rent hikes. Many artists have fled to Oakland, LA and NYC in search of affordable housing and a more vibrant art scene... But we wanna know what you think of how it's going here in San Francisco. How are you making it work? What's your take on the art scene or lack there of? Do you think things are on the up and up or down and out here in San Francisco? Are artists a bunch of complainers and every thing looks great or is it curtains for San Francisco's artistic community? Thoughts

The Rena Bransten Gallery is packing up their 77 Geary space to make way for tech company MuleSoft

 

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010 11:50


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Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.


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