January 2016

January 2016

In This Issue

  • Start Planning Your Certification Year
  • Tips on Leafing
  • Paper Selection for Colored Pencil
  • Accredited Decorative Painter FAQ

Start Planning Your Certification Year

By Sue Pruett MDA

It’s human nature to start the New Year with hopes and dreams of new beginnings and aspirations to accomplish great things in the coming year. As artists we are inspired to create, paint and learn. SDP’s Certification Program is designed to help painters learn artistic principles that are important to all decorative painters. If you struggle with choosing your own colors, values and intensities, give this program a try. All entries are anonymous and assigned a number; none of the judges know who has submitted.

If this is something you would like to accomplish January is the best month to plan for the New Year. February 28, 2016 is the last day to order the Certification Portfolio; don’t wait until it’s too late to order. Allow yourself plenty of time to paint your board. One thing we don’t plan for is surprises and emergencies; allow additional time for those. February 1 was always my start date, and as much as I found so many ways to procrastinate, I knew if I didn’t start by that date I would be in a frenzy to complete by the deadline date.

We will announce the passing entries at the 2016 SDP International Conference & Expo, June 6-11, in San Diego. This will be the first year that we judge and announce our new Accredited Decorative Painter designations. This new category is an excellent way to start your "Journey to Excellence".

Thank you to Marian Jackson MDA and Ginko Otaka MDA/TDA for donating their time and expertise in the enclosed articles.

Let us all strive to keep this program alive and well. As always, I welcome your questions and suggestions. You can email me at suepruett@artapprenticeonline.com.

Tips on Leafing

By Ginko Otaka MDA, TDA

One of the requirements in the MDA Floral category is to apply leafing to the surface. This area is designated with a line around the parameters of the design.

Leafing is one of the categories of gilding. Leaf is available in thin sheets of genuine leaf (gold, silver, or copper) or metal leaf. Variegated leaf is also available in red, green, black, blue and dawn, as shown in order in the pictures below. The genuine leaf is more expensive, and also harder to handle than the metal leaf.

Tips on Preparing for Application
  • Leaf is very delicate; you want to avoid the leaf blowing away.
  • Turn off fans and close vents and windows, and try not to sneeze.
  • Prepare a smooth surface to apply leaf.
  • Cover the surface with two or three thin even layers of adhesive sizing.
  • Apply baby powder to your palms and on the blades of scissors to avoid transferring oil onto the leaf.
  • Bamboo tongs or tweezers are useful for picking up the leaf.

Preparing the Surface
  • Sand the surface very smoothly.
  • Fill in any holes or cracks with wood filler.
  • Apply a smooth base coat color underneath the leaf area; use acrylic paint, never use oil paint, under leaf.
  • Traditionally red or black is used as the undercoat color; although, always use a color that will go with the painting.
  • Sand smoothly with sandpaper and wipe clean prior to applying the sizing.

Cutting leaf with scissors is an option.

Tearing leaf by hand is an option.

Tearing around outer edges is an option.

Try to avoid using your hands to tear and apply leaf; the oils in skin will discolor and tarnish the leaf. Instead use bamboo tongs or tweezers to apply leaf to the surface. Overlapping leaf is recommended to avoid cracks.

By nature leaf is shiny and can be too light and intense. This effect on a painting, in most cases, will distract from the painted area. For this reason the leaf will, most of the time, need to be toned with antiquing. This antiquing will also be an opportunity to create harmony with other colors used in the painting.

Deciding which color/temperature of antiquing to use should be determined by the overall color/temperature of the painting. If the background of the painting is warm, typically a warm leaf and antiquing color will be used. If the background is cool, a cool leaf (silver) and cool antiquing should be used. Experiment on a separate surface to see which color flows with your painting and is not distracting to the actual painted area. The leafing should never be the focal area or an area where the eye is drawn to first. When applying the antiquing, it is better to use transparent layers instead of opaque paint.

Notice how the leafing is not the focal area of the painting in the examples below.

Chieko Sato CDA
Silver Leaf – 2005

Ginko Otaka MDA/TDA
Silver Leaf – 2001

Yoko Kawasaki CDA
Gold Leaf – 2004

For more Certification Program tips, watch these videos:
  • Three Ways of Cutting Leaf
  • How to Apply Adhesive Size

View the Certification Video Library»

Paper Selection for Colored Pencil

By Marian Jackson MDA

Disclaimer: I am not a water colorist, so this article is based on colored pencil experience only.

Choosing the right paper is a crucial part of your painting and in turn an asset to passing your Certification.

The paper you select must fit the framed board and must have a mat placed on top.

There are a couple of decisions to be made before you start.
  • The paper may be adhered to the board, and if you are going to do this, please practice with your chosen paper on a similar surface. This is not the time for creases and air bubbles.
  • A safer alternative may be to use a full size sheet cut to fit the frame, and attach it to either the backboard or the mat with archival tape.
Your paper choice will depend somewhat on your painting style and technique, but one caution I must give you is NOT to use scrapbook paper for this project. Scrapbook paper is made to be within a book, away from light, and therefore is generally not lightfast and can fade with amazing speed. I speak from experience.

Ok, so back to technique. If you use OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits) or any other solvents, your paper must be of sufficient weight to give good results. If you use a burnishing pencil, the weight of the paper should be a consideration here also.

Cold press paper is somewhere in between rough and hot press, which is smoother. The choice is yours, but this is not the time to experiment. Use pencils and paper that you are both familiar with, and comfortable with.

One of the questions you may have is: Does the entire painting have to be painted with pencils? The answer is no. A mixed media piece is acceptable, and you may use any other medium that works with your paper choice. For example, a background color may be painted with acrylics, inks or pastels. Just test, test, and test. If you use pastels, remember to spray with a fixative so that particles are not disturbed during the shipping process.

You may also use a colored paper. Your color choice should be within your chosen color scheme and the value should enhance your painting. Some brands have limited colors and values, while other brands have a wide range of both.

I am not naming specific brands or weights as there are far too many choices. I have my favorites and I'm sure you have yours.

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact the Sue, the Certification Chair.

Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) FAQ

1. How does the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) level differ from the Certified Decorative Artist (CDA) level?
a) The ADP level is a stepping stone to the CDA level. The design is composed of small sections instead of one entire composition. If you feel the CDA level is too hard try the ADP level first to get a critique to see your strengths and improvements.

2. Do I start with the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) level prior to attempting the Certified Decorative Artist (CDA) level?
a) You can start with either level. If you begin with the ADP level you will still have to complete the CDA level prior to the attempting the MDA level.

3. Is the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) test graded at the same skill level as the CDA test?
a) The ADP level will not be graded on the same scale as the CDA level, and will not require the same degree of skills in order to pass.

4. If I have previously started with the Certified Decorative Artist (CDA) level, do I have to stay with this level or can I try the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) level?
a) Individuals who previously entered into the CDA category, and did not pass, may continue with the CDA category or the ADP category.

5. Can I paint the Accredited Decorative Painter (ADP) level with any medium?
a) The ADP stroke entry must be painted with either acrylic or oil paint. The ADP and CDA still life category may be painted with a variety of mediums including: oil, acrylic, colored pencil, watercolor and pastel.

6. Will I receive a critique telling me what my strengths and weaknesses are?

a) Every applicant receives a written critique from the Master Decorative Artists (MDA) judges.

7. Are the design elements to be painted in the exact position as indicated on the pattern?
a) Yes, no part of the line drawing may be altered.

8. There is a 'line' on the pattern that separates each design element. Is this line part of the overall design, and therefore needs to be painted as a hard demarcation?
a) The lines separate each section; there should be a clear indication that they are separated. The applicant may be creative with these lines or paint a thin line as indicated. Some examples of creative lines could be strokework; i.e.'s' strokes, comma strokes, scrolls, squiggly lines, etc.

9. Is there to be only one background color or can each design element have its own background with different colors?
a) It is the artist’s choice to have one solid background color or have different colors in each vignette. If different colors are used this could get too busy depending how the colors look side by side. The ‘overall effect’ is part of the judging process.

10. In the 'Instructions for Applicants' (pink sheet), #6 Still Life needs resting/sit down shadows to keep the design elements from floating. Is this true for the ADP?
a) Contact or Sit Down shadows are a must in still life to keep the item from floating. Cast shadows are not a requirement but they do help the overall effect.

11. For the Still Life category I would like to use colored pencils for my entry. Do I have to paint the background or can I use colored paper?
a) You may use colored paper, or paint the background with acrylics, pastels or colored pencils. Please test your paper first to be sure it accepts – without warping – the medium you have chosen. If you are going to paint the background with acrylic, make sure it is well cured before painting your design, and be sure to test the number of layers your particular pencil technique can take. Also, figure out in advance whether you are going to adhere the paper to the wood provided. Some papers are too thin for this technique and some papers need quite a bit of practice. Plan this part of your painting before you start.

12. I’m entering the ADP Still Life and would like to use colored pencils. Can you give me some suggestions of which kind of papers would be acceptable?

a) These are only suggestions. The paper you select depends on the technique and application of the surface that you have chosen. See above. You may use: a hot press (smooth) watercolor paper with a good weight; Mi Tientes paper – it’s a bit thin for some applications so be sure to test; Stonehenge paper, a nice thick, smooth surface; Archival Mat Board. (Be sure to practice your application of technique on this.)