By Rebecca Carlson
With Sparmax airbrush equipment, artists are creating anything that requires very precise details or the smooth coverage of a large area, says Peter Liang from Sparmax. For specific examples, he directed us to California artist Daniel Barraga, who creates realism art on all kinds of substrates, from electric guitars and wine barrels to motor homes.
Daniel also offers airbrushing lessons for children and adults in both group and one-on-one sessions at his studio and gallery in downtown Lodi.
He uses an assortment of Sparmax airbrushes – the DH-125, the SP-35, and the SP-20X, along with the TC-620X compressor – to complete the wide variety of commissions that come in from his customers. “I’ll take on any job that’s thrown at me,” he explains. “It’s a growing process because I learn from each one.”
The SP-20X has recently become Daniel’s favorite. “It’s the most comfortable in my hand,” he told us. He likes to use the SP-35 to clear-coat small items. “Clear coat is very thick, but the SP-35 creates a flawless finish with it.”
Compared to others on the market, Sparmax compressors are smaller in size but powerful. “The pairing of the compressor and the airbrush is very important, and greatly affects the outcome,” notes Peter Liang.
“The TC-620X is very reliable,” Daniel adds. “I like the weight and the sound of it, plus having two air hoses. I can use two airbrushes very easily on a painting.” He also sells the compressors in his studio and says the feedback from his customers is positive.
“You can use an airbrush on virtually any surface as long as the paint allows for it, the compressor provides a steady source of air, and the airbrush can handle the paint,” explains Peter. “We’ve even seen artists airbrushing on bird feathers! Our airbrushes and compressors have also been used to mist oxygen for facials, makeup and special effects; and to paint plush toys and repair leather.”
Wet & Wild
By Rebecca Carlson
Sarah Janece Garcia creates wildlife portraits and nature-inspired paintings exclusively with QoR watercolors from GOLDEN. Why QoR? “The short answer would be because of their extra vivid, dense and vibrant color,” she told us in a recent interview. “I find I am able to best focus on my vision for each piece rather than having to focus on (and work extra-hard to get) the full saturations and blends I wish to capture. QoR products, include the Mediums, offer me the ability to work with the wonderful translucent washes of traditional watercolors, while also building my subject matter with small, opaque details I enjoy placing in my paintings.”
The color vibrancy of QoR comes from a special resin used as a binder in place of gum Arabic, explains Cathy Jennings, material specialist at Golden Artist Colors in New Berlin, New York. It was first patented by Dow Chemical in 1977, and licensed to another manufacturer under the brand name Aquazol. “Our first glimpse at the new resin came from the conservation sciences and the conservators who uses the binder as an adhesive and for inpainting,” says an article in the GOLDEN newsletter, Just Paint. “What we found in our initial investigations of Aquazol was that it allowed us to create a color with the potential for greater color strength than any other professional watercolor.”
That’s what Sarah needed. She had always worked in oils because of their color strength and pigment, but found herself trying to work the oils as if they were watercolors. Then QoR entered the marketplace. “The range of colors it offers, along with the ability to work the paint to stay transparent, but also build opaquely, is something my artist’s heart was very happy to find.”
She prefers working on 300lb cold-press paper in large formats – she orders it in rolls. The weight provides extra support and prevents the buckling that can occur when she’s trying to obtain deep colors. “Also, the textural pockets and grooves on the paper, along with the heavy paper’s slower absorption rate, enable the color blends to organically mix as the paint slowly absorbs.”
By framing her pieces in a white frame and mat, the vibrant colors of the paint become the focal point.
The Big Picture
by Tina Manzer
The bigger the art the better, says Rebecca Carlson, charcoal artist and assistant editor at AMR. She loves the contrasts charcoal gives her, and the way it spreads on large surfaces. She uses products from General Pencil Company almost exclusively.
“General’s products are easily accessible and inexpensive, and I go through a lot of them working on just one piece,” Rebecca says.
She begins by toning white paper – either Stonehenge or Canson Drawing Paper – with charcoal powder, which she sprinkles from the jar onto the surface and spreads evenly with a brush.
Then she begins to outline the art she wants to create using General’s Factis Mechanical Eraser to erase away the tone she’s applied. “I don’t want to see the outline, I want to see the shapes,” Rebecca explains, and adds, “Artists who work on black or gray paper use white charcoal to create their outline.” Dark areas are mapped out using vine charcoal. It’s easy to smudge, and easy to take off and add on. “In general, charcoal is a forgiving medium – another reason I like it.”
Then it’s a long, slow layering process. “I don’t want to get too dark too fast,” she notes. Rebecca builds up layers using charcoal pencils. She sharpens them with an x-acto knife and, depending on the width of the line she wants to create, she’ll either make a sharp point (for fine details) or lift off the orange casing altogether to reveal the long edge of the stick (for wide sweeps).
“In addition to how well – and how fast – you can cover large areas with charcoal, I enjoy the spontaneity of it and how easy it is to blend.”