Monday, March 2, 2020

Chat with Thomas Garner...

Kline Academy of Fine Arts


Thomas Garner

Professional Artist / Instructor

Thomas Garner went to the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where he learned to paint and found a strong nexus between craft and concept. 

"My painting style started out as photo-realistic, but with time I learned the craft of the masters so that now I am able to create a unified mechanism between technique and content, painting about painting. I strive to learn everything I can to about every aspect of figurative painting that has brought me explore live figure painting, plein air, still life and portraiture."

Here is some insight shared by Thomas Garner:

What is your daily / weekly schedule as a working artist?

"I have my regular day job in fashion graphics and illustration but every evening I am at my easel painting whether I am tired or not as I have been doing for the last 35 years. It is my meditation, or my drug. When I find time I also paint on weekends in a more up time of the day. I reserve that for doing Alla Prima work which requires a more energetic treatment."

How do you prepare your drawing / painting surface?

"I generally prepare my own canvases. When I do my Classical work I use linen which I sometimes prepare with traditional rabbit glue and gesso. Often I will also hand stitch canvases together to achieve a visible seam across the painting. This is one of my own signature artistic, symbolic gestures. For my Urban painting I use denim in place of canvas as it strikes me as being more symbolically appropriate for urban subjects. In both cases I mask off a passpartout border of exposed fabric around the periphery that functions as a frame. Then also in both cases I tone my canvases according to the subject that can be yellow ocher for the classical work and magenta for the urban. In other cases such as portraits or plain air it would be some shade of chromatic grays."

Panel vs cotton canvas? Which do you prefer?

"I generally prefer canvas because it usually has the right amount of tooth or roughness to pick up paint and gives a good brushy, textured effect. Depending how a panel is primed it can be too smooth presenting an obstacle when applying the first layers of paint. That said, there are times when a smooth panel can be very effective for example you are looking for a streaky effect or working on a subject that is highly detailed."

Natural vs synthetic hair? Which do you prefer?

"I think that in recent times synthetic bristles have way out-stripped traditional, natural hogs hair bristle. They perform better in terms of flexibility, they hold a nice razor sharp edge, they clean easier and last longer, and often cost less."

Hog or sable?

"Synthetic sable has not yet surpassed natural sable. Nothing beats the performance of genuine sable if you are inking a drawing giving beautiful, expressive thick and thin linage. Real sable is usually too soft for oil painting except in some of the finest details and where very smooth blending is needed. Oil painting in most cases requires a stiffer brush because the medium is thick and needs to be pushed into the texture of the canvas. I have however found among some synthetic bristles the characteristic of bristle that is stiff in the stem but bends softly towards the tip giving the best of both types."

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