Adrift in Space 2
ADRIFT IN SPACE – Acrylic – Jud House

Further to my and my posts, I’ve been pondering the variety of painting application techniques as I’ve worked on my ‘space’ paintings for my coming exhibition.  It seems to me that there are no longer any rigid rules about what you use to apply your paint.  And I so approve of that.  It is not what you use to get there – it’s the completed artwork, its evocative image that’s important.

I paint in Acrylic, using synthetic brushes – they are the most compatible for the type of work I do.  They are sympathetic to the Acrylic.  They don’t interfere with the delicacy of some of the implied texture, and allow me to work into that so finely, pulling out images, teasing colour in between the texture.  But I use so much more to apply my paint.

ANDROMEDA GALAXY – Acrylic – Jud House

For the ‘space’ paintings, I’ve applied very dark background Acrylic paint into a smooth medium-density layer upon which to cast the stars, galaxies, nebulae and matter of the universe.  I’ve applied thin coloured layers of paint over this and lifted it off with various types of plastics (bags, wrappings, bubble-wrap) and toweling (paper, old tea towels, rags, washers) to show the space behind the implied texture above.  I’ve then used the lifted off paint on the plastics to apply it in dabs and smears to other dry works – waste not, want not.  I’ve painted the plastics with the paint, from neat to very wet and thin, and dabbed it on the works to build up colour and texture simultaneously.  I’ve used my fingers, either with unintentional paint that I’ve then applied, or intentionally dipping my finger tips into the paint to apply it in touches, dabs, smears and rubbing, to add to or modify or correct a part of the artwork.  On other artworks I’ve applied paint with skewers, knives, spoons, sponges, lids, and other miscellaneous objects that have come to hand.  Some artworks have all been brushwork, from the initial background brush to finer brushes to paint on thin layers as washes, to build up and moderate the colours used.


Cross-section of GALAXIE GALORE – Acrylic – Jud House

Apart from a few larger sized flat brushes for blending larger areas and laying background paint onto smaller works, I prefer synthetic Dagger brushes.  I’ve only found one brand that makes them, so far, but there must be others.  They are so versatile – like having the best of all the brushes rolled into one.  Turn them side-on and you can sweep layers (thin through to thick) of paint across the canvas, rolling slightly to create waves, twisting back and forth for unusual organic shapes, turning it on edge to create thin to thick lines, lifting it onto its tiny tip to draw a line as thin as hair.  They only seem to come in 4 smallish sizes but your can do a lot with the largest of them that you can do with any other medium brush.  I have other shaped synthetic brushes in jars, many tiny tip brushes that I used for the tiny line work although they tended to produced blobby little lines despite their minute size.  But since my discovery of the Dagger brushes they remain in their jars unused, like the jars of hogshair brushes that I’ve not used for years (except one recently to paint around the outside edge of a thin-framed canvas) and that felt a bit weird.


REFLECTIONS – Acrylic – Jud House

Now for people who paint with Acrylic in thick, dense, structured brushwork, and who prefer the brushstrokes to show, and who build up ‘real’ texture that can be felt by touch, then hogshair (or synthetic) brushes are perfect for the tasks.  I’ve done many of these works in the past, but for the work I’m producing at the moment the hogshair brushes are not needed.  I may return to them at a future date – who knows – but I’m not discarding them or giving them away – they can sit in their jars till needed.

I know it’s a mundane and rather redundant thing to say, (and not aimed at experienced artists) but how you clean your brushes is so important.  Just a quick wash under the tap will not suffice.  Acrylic paint needs to be removed from the brush totally, or it will taint the next colour – unless you keep blue brushes for blue paint, red for red, etc  The paint tints the synthetic brush a little more than it does the hogshair, and embeds at the base of the ferrule a little less than the hogshair.  It needs to be massaged out.  I usually rinse my water container (a takeaway tub) then rinse the brush in that, emptying and refilling as it dirties, then finally massage the brush up near the ferrule to dislodge the last particles possible.  That way I don’t waste precious water, and end up with a clean brush.  Actually I usually do several brushes at once – whatever I’ve used for that artwork till the water needed changing.  The brushes last much longer and I don’t need to keep buying new ones.

NEBULAE – Acrylic – Jud House

As you can see, I quite approve of the freedom of equipment, impliment, and utensil use that artists of today have at their disposal.  You are no longer considered to “paint like a child” if you get stuck into your artwork with your painted hands.  You’re allowed to mix utensils as well as media these days.  Go for it!

Jud House  6/01/2017

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Galactic Exhibition

Just a quick note to let you all know that in April I’m having a solo art exhibition, featuring my Galactic/Cosmic paintings on shaped canvases, at the West Australian Gravity/Cosmos Centre, Military Road, GinGin, at the Observatory amongst the telescopes.  The retracting roof will give great light to the pieces which will of course be protected.

I have 10 large artworks to produce in the next 3 months so may not be able to add any more Art Theory and Technique blogs.  I may however be able to add the occasional update re the coming exhibition with pics of the artworks as they are completed.  PILLARS OF CREATION NEBULA, SUPERNOVA 3, and HORSEHEAD NEBULA already underway.

Hoping you will like them.

Jud House   31/12/2016


Shaped Canvases = Open Images.



The thing that I’ve realised after revisiting my art theory and history notes is that there are no longer any Rules of Art.  There are Techniques, Skills, Styles, Genres, and Subjective Perceptions of Art.

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Feeling Free L2 – Peter Nottrott – Saatchi Art

Techniques:  are multiple, some recognised, others a mystery to the viewers and other yet-to-be-enlightened artists.  These are creations, experiments, accidental images discovered in and teased out of the initial foundation or background, intentional explorations with single or mixed media, and expressionism gone rampant.  Now I realise that this may not sound like Techniques – brushwork, carving, palette knife work, colour mixing, sculpting, impasto, washes, and so on – but they all involve and are extensions of these, resulting in some incredible artworks.

Skills:  are obviously still really valuable.  It is obvious that the degree of Art Skills applied in different works vary hugely.  Some appear not to be applied at all, yet behind every artwork is the intent of the artist.  What may appear to the viewer as just a single coloured canvas may be a deliberate exercise in colour intensity, or transparency, or variation of hue, brushwork, density, or the creation of optical afterimage on the retina of the prospective viewer.  Other artworks display every skill necessary to depict near photographic figurative work – sound drawing skills, chiaroscuro, tiny brushwork, perspective, volume, use of light, colour contrasts and complements, balanced composition, underlying structure etc.  Both are valid.  Both are Art as creations of the artists.

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Sir Ian McKellan – Christian Hook

Styles:  are not quite the same thing as Genres.  I perceive Style as being the recognisable work of a specific artist, or group of artists – their signature.  Van Gogh’s work is recognisably his, as is Renoir’s, Matisse’s, Gauguin’s, and an interminable list of artists of all genres.  Today, thanks to the exposure via the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year television program, the Styles of Christian Hook and Nick Lord, and also to a lesser degree that of the other contestants, are recognised instantly, world wide via social media.  The Style ‘Schools’ created within groups still show variations.  Collaborative works encompass the participants’ differences, producing a Style-Meld or Multi-Style. That is the astonishing thing about Art – that there can be so many Styles, such variety, a seemingly infinite degree of uniqueness that can be produced.  And what a gift that is to an artist – to develop, discover, create a unique Style!

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Lance Sergeant Johnson Gideon Beharry VC – Nick Lord

Genres:  are the designations of the trends that occurred, and continue to occur, in the development of Art, and thanks to the Impressionists (a Genre) its freedom from rigid constraints in Techniques, Skills, Styles and Subject Matter.  The work can be Figurative, Impressionist, Cubist, Post-Impressionist, Expressionist, Modern, Post-Modern, DaDa, Surrealist, Digital Figurative and Fantasy, Art Wallpapers (computer screens) and so on to the undesignated, yet-to-be-labelled latest trends of dribbling, slashing, scratching, blurring, wiping, texturing, collaging, mixing and constructing that artists can dream up.  Do they need labels?  Is the Genre important any more?

Subjective perceptions of Art:  And so I come to this.  I have been surprised and dismayed to find how much the subjective perceptions  – their artistic preferences, their personal baggage – of those judging the various television art competition programs, inform their comments on the contestants’ artworks.  It is a competition, so there must be judgements, and of course the judges’ fields of expertise will affect their points of view.  But in this artistic era, where freedom of expression is not just encouraged but expected, the denigration of artwork that is pleasing to look at, that is pretty, or illustrative, is unacceptable.

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Illustration – Double Exposure – Pat Perry 

Illustrative art is still Art.  It is a form of Figurative Art.  It’s place is not only in magazines or books  -it can hang on walls beside painterly works, or cubist works, or expressive works on an equal footing. The PUNCH magazine illustrations are still Art that hang proudly in galleries, and homes.  Paintings that are pretty, Watercolours of gorgeous light effects on colourful landscapes, are just as valid as a Portrait of a prominent person.  It feeds the emotions  of the viewer, producing happiness, a sense of serenity.  Art can be evocative, be about feelings.  In these days of stress, that is not a bad thing.  Art does not always have to carry a Message.  It doesn’t have to be about Issues.  Constable’s landscapes were about the landscapes, and the use of paint to capture the light and colours and shapes.

Artists, on the whole, are vulnerable people, exposing their work to the public hoping for understanding, comprehension, and validation, rather than negative criticism.  Consideration should be tantamount in the delivery of judgements – good points made followed by suggestions for tightening of skills needed for the specific style chosen by the contestant – as many judges do – rather than telling them it is dreadful , laughable, or lacking in skills – as a few judges do.  The ridiculing of contestants needs to stop.  It is unpleasant for all concerned, including the program viewers.  The audience want to see how the artists paint; how they can create their own versions of the designated subject matter.  They choose their favourites subjectively, and want to see them do well.  They do not want to watch people being humiliated and upset.  The shows should be about the Art and the Artists Styles.

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Landscape Abstract Digital Painting – Simon Boxer

Do the Rules of Art still apply?  Or are Artists truly free to create,with acceptance and respect?

Jud House  4/11/2016

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