Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Armand Cabrera Videos

My partner Diane Burket is a voice over professional and has been going through my older posts and recording them as video podcasts. She has been posting them on Youtube the past few weeks  so I thought I would provide links to them here so people can listen when they choose. I will make a special section for them in the sidebar of the blog under videos

Mixing Greens

Painting Autumn Color

Aldro Thompson  Hibbard  Biography

Isaac Levitan Biography

Frederick Waugh Biography

Albert Thomas DeRome Biography

Collaboration verses Auteur

Armand Cabrera

As a production artist the idea of collaboration comes up a lot in my discussions with clients. A lot of the art world caters to making art in service of something else. I’m not talking here about people starting out or learning the particulars of a job requirement. I’m talking about professional artists who have established their ability. This is just as true for a portrait as it is for an illustration. In production art I’m often called on once the style of the project has been set and I must insert myself into that process as seamlessly as possible. 

Collaborative jobs take a special type of compromise that has nothing to do with an individual’s ability as an artist. Some people try to make the argument that it makes them a better artist but I disagree. I think it makes them a more pliable artist and individual.  At the very least it makes one a different artist not necessarily better or worse than when left alone. One who sees collaboration and compromise as part of the process needs to agree to the idea that other people who don’t actually do your job are better at it than you are; but to become that person you have to give up your own system of beliefs. 

When I work in production I give them what they want. If they just want a wrist to take their orders that’s what they get. If they want my creativity as a jumping off point for their ideas they can have that too. If they want to leave the authorship to me, I'm glad to oblige. They get to decide. I give them the best work I can, given the parameters they create.

No two people can be in agreement every step of the way. An artist must tamp down their personal voice and they most likely never know the artist you could be if left to follow your own heart and mind. Whether you make the decision consciously or not you have abrogated your abilities and knowledge to someone else. You will never know if left to your own devices, what you would have produced. Where would your art take you if left to explore on your own and accept or reject precepts as you discover them?

My solution for this is personal work. One of the reasons I developed a gallery presence is there is none of this in my gallery work. I in my personal work I paint pictures that I want to paint. No one is in on the decision process as I work. All the creative aspects of the painting are my decision. The gallery is free to accept or reject paintings I offer to them and buyers accept or reject what gets hung on the walls by buying them or not.

For me this is where my creativity and skill get pushed to new heights. It the only time I grow as an artist. I have to shrug off all of the outside opinions and dig down deep for my own solutions. I stand or fall on my experiments and decisions. Its all mine and its where the real art is for me. No one can see the visions in my head or how to paint them better than me. I could find solutions in other artists work but that would be a cop out for me, it has to come from inside. The best part of this path is when these paintings connect with clients. Then I know I have accomplished what I have set out to do. It’s not about shortcuts and monetary success though, it’s about the truth of my journey on canvas and it’s the only thing that really matters to me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Tone Frames

Armand Cabrera

I buy metal and gold leaf frames for most of my paintings. I like how the metallic gold finish complements the paintings but sometimes the frames are not the right color or too brassy and bright and detract from the image. When this happens I tone them.

Many times the frames I buy change from order to order even though they are supposed to be the same frame style. Toning your frames helps to keep them the tone you want.

 The best way to start is use some old damaged frames and practice until you get the results you are looking for. There are many ways to do this, this is my process.

I mix up a bunch of varnish cut in half with mineral spirits. I mix in a small amount of the pigment I want. Usually a mixture of raw umber as a base with touches of yellow ochre or viridian added depending on what tone I want the color to be.

I then ponce the mixture into the frame with a big brush so I get a nice pattern to the application and it gets into all the cuts of the carving. I let this set and then wipe the excess of with an old rag t shirt. Once it is fully dry I polish it with renaissance wax. 

Here is a frame with half toned and half not toned so you can see the difference it makes

Monday, July 28, 2014

Workshop Barn Demo

Armand Cabrera

This is one of the demo’s I did for my last workshop. Each day I tackle a specific problem in about an hours’ time to show the students how an organized approach and a firm grasp of the fundamentals will give you a solid painting. My approach is the same whether outdoors or in the studio working from sketches or photos. This was painted from one of my photos.

I started with the drawing. Using a medium sized brush I sketch right on the canvas any changes I make from the source material for size or placement happen at this stage so that when I am painting I can focus on color. If I have to continually correct my drawing in the painting stage I am dividing my focus.

Once the drawing is complete I choose some element of the painting to key everything to and block it in. Sometimes it is my darkest or lightest note but not always, whatever component I am the most sure of about its color and value is where I start. Then I block in everything else relative to that first notes color and value.
In terms of order I usually paint back to front, large to small, and dark to light. 

Once the block in stage is finished I flesh out the areas adding interest and details. I am careful to preserve the large division of light and shadow throughout the painting.

The finished demo Sky Meadow Barn 9 x 12. Painting time about an hour and a half

Monday, July 14, 2014

Great Falls Workshop

My workshop in Great Falls still has a few more spots open if anyone wants to get in at the last minute. The workshop helps raise money for the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts.


The class is for every level of artist and will focus on improving all aspects of the students painting while maintaining their personal style. All my instruction is individualized for each participants level and personal vision. I demo everyday and make sure everyone gets plenty of attention while they work.