February 20, 2009

New Favorite Primer!

I have a new favorite primer, Tamiya surface white primer. I read about it in one of the RESS forum posts, sorry I don't remember who posted it. It is made for miniature painters and is incredibly fine. And it comes in white, which is ideal for my pastel application.

I've only used it on about 8 minis so far and haven't even finished the first can (I bought several), but it goes on fine and thin. No loss of detail on those tiny wrinkles and veins. And it dries nicely to a slightly chalky feel, which makes me believe it will take pigment well. Haven't yet started painting, but I don't foresee any problems.

Not sure yet how it will fair on plastics. Tiffany Purdy told me there was some chemical (aluminum something???) in white primers that interacts with the plastics, which is why so many of them stay tacky after priming. I thought it was just the Krylon formula for their sandable primers, but maybe it is all white primers? I rarely, rarely work in plastics, so I haven't done alot of exploring on the topic. If anyone has any advice/thoughts on priming plastics, feel free to let us know in the comments! And since these cans are written in Chinese characters (or maybe it's Japanese?), I wouldn't be able to read the ingredients if I tried!

Anyway, I think this is a wonderful addition to the prepping aresenal. A must have for prepping minis scale models, in particular. I don't believe it is carried in any hobby stores, but it can't hurt to look. I ordered mine over the internet (the link above will take you to their site - it's the cheapest I'v found so far, let me know if you find it elsewhere for less).

Note: always protect yourself when working with spray primers and paints by wearing a gas mask and only spray where there is good circulation! Even the outgassing while they dry is better done away from people and pets.

February 17, 2009

Woes of Technology

I knew the hard drive was on the way out, I backed everything up (I thought) to our massive external hard drive, having been victim of "learning it the hard way" the last time our hard drive failed...
Our laptop isn't even two years old, but shutting it off in the midst of a Microsoft update proved disastrous for Ruby (the laptop). I ran the backup utility, which was set to backup EVERYTHING on the hard drive, just to be on the safe side. Then I performed a back up of Quicken into its own little folder. Then I tried to tackle Outlook. I installed some nifty backup tool provided my Microsoft and followed the instructions, putting it in its own little folder where it wouldn't get lost.
Well, the new hard drive is running nicely (thank goodness for warranties), and I downloaded all the drivers, the antivirus software, Office, Quicken and the printer (I still have oodles of software to download). Quicken is up and running with all the data intact, but much to my dismay all my Outlook data appears lost forever. The backup didn't backup the .pst personal file, it actually appears that it didn't back up anything. And my back up in case that didn't work was that I had done a back up for the whole darn C drive. Nope - it doesn't back up certain types of folders/files and that included the App folder under my user name that housed the personal file. I believe there are times we need to purge in our life, but I usually prefer it be on my terms. It's always refreshing to clean out the closet and the boxes stacked up and donate stuff to your favorite charity. And there is much to be said for simplifying our lives. I just wish I could still have all my contacts, past emails, and tasks at my finger tips. This happened to me once before and I survived. Lesson learned - again. Luckily, the most precious things (the thousands of photos of our family) and critical things (financial data) are intact.
So, after you finish reading this, please go back up your data!

February 8, 2009

The Artist's Eye

An interesting discussion cropped up on the RESS forum, started by Lesli Kathman, and I wanted to share a bit with you.

First of all, take a moment to take the Munsell Hue Test to assess how well you see color. The lower the score, the better you "see" color. Now, keep in mind that monitor variations may alter your score a little.

My husband thinks I see colors funny. It all started because I called his Honda Accord brown when he thought it was grey. In his defense, the factory color was called "Charcoal." Now, brown is a very broad term for color, but he would not accept that the car was more brown than grey. Grey is an interesting color becuase it can have brown tones that make it warmer. The point is, I felt vindicated when I got a near perfect score on the hue test. Ha ha!

But, it makes me wonder about how people see colors differently. As an artist seeing color is important, obviously. But what about the buyer of a piece? Does the interpretation of a piece change simply because somone sees colors differently than you? For example, choosing paint and looking at more than a dozen shades of "beige." While some people think they all look the same, others can distinguish more gold or more grey in each color chip. In our last house, the beige on the wall and the beige carpet didn't quite work together, in my opinion. Did the previous owners not see it (or maybe they just went with what was on sale)? When working on our next house, a fixer upper, I was thrilled to be able to make sure the carpet worked with the color palette I had chosen for the walls. I think the color harmony contributes to the peacefulness of the environment (when all the toys are put away, that is). Of course, everyone knows colors affect mood (which is why Pizza Hut is red, which is supposed to make you hungry), but does the harmony of hues also affect mood? And what does that mean, if some people can't distinguish hues while others can?

I think part of seeing color is developing an eye for it. I had a great art teacher in high school that taught us how to start looking for color. She really pushed us to see beyond the obvious to see what colors were making up the object (like green in skin tones). Being from Illinois, I became fascinated by the range of colors in the corn fields. There is an infinite number of shades of green, alot depending on how the light is filtering through it. Nature is so full of color. Look at the picture above. Leaves aren't just green, but a hundred different shades of green. And green happens to be my favorite color, maybe because nature is replete with so many variations of it. It has a soothing effect on me, which is why my kitchen, master bath and bedroom are all a different, lovely shade of green.

But, maybe not everyone can be trained to see color? Are there limitations that prevent some individuals from seeing hues as clearly as others? And likewise, are some people naturally able to distinguish colors more easily? There is a study showing that some women are tetrachromats and can see in four colors, having an extra cone on the X chromosome that allows them to see millions more colors than the average person. I wonder what percentage of these individuals find themselves drawn to artistic fields?

So our genetic makeup determines how we see color. We can be trained to "see" color to the extent that we actually can distinguish the hues. And even for those who are only trichromats, there are still millions of colors to enjoy.