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Jan 27

Watercolors or Oil Paints?

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 in Animal Art, How to Paint, Nature Art, North American Animal Art, Wildlife Art

Animal Art Wolf Painting

Arctic Wolf on the Glacier

Here is a painting I recently completed titled “Arctic Wolf on the Glacier”. It is an oil painting, a medium I haven’t worked in for over 25 years. Although I enjoy doing large compositions of whole body animals, using oil paints presents some special challenges, especially in a painting measuring

There are many differences between using oil paints and watercolor paints. The first difference is that oil paint remains wet, while the artist is working on the painting. So, you must be aware to not put your arm or hand on the wet paint, while moving across the image. Most oil painters use a mall, a long handled rod with a padded bulb at the end, which rests on the easel, holding the other end in the opposite hand, while resting the painting hand on the supported rod. This allows the artist to have a steady hand while painting, without touching the wet canvas. This does work well in theory, but in actuality, as a water colorist for the past 40 years, I am used to touching the painting, while I am working on it. No matter how often I remind myself, I constantly find myself putting my arm on the painting, ending up covered in oil paint.

Another difference is that the oil paint is toxic, as are the solvents required to use the paint, and clean up. Just having an open container of turpentine in the studio will poison the air, and cause many health problems. It is essential to have an air cleaner with a charcoal filter to clean the air. You need to develop safe painting techniques, not putting the brush in your mouth, not eating while painting, not putting your fingers in your mouth, and not, for goodness sake, smoking while painting!

Many commonly used pigments contain toxic doses of heavy metals, for example: Cadmium yellow, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red, Cobalt blue, cobalt violet, and leaded white pigment. Most classically trained oil painters, insist on using leaded white paint for priming the canvas, a very dangerous process. However, most of these important safety measures are fairly easy to perform.

Another way that oil paint differs from watercolor paint, is that the bushes are completely different. Watercolor requires small soft round brushes, usually made of sable or a combination of sable and synthetic bristle. Oil works best with flat hogs-bristle brushes, and some round brushes. Since oil paint is thick, and water color is thin, it requires a different method of applying the paint. Oil painters like the ability to endlessly move the paint around, until they get it the way they like. Watercolor is a one brush stroke at-a-time application style. Watercolor paint dries almost immediately, so you must get it right the first time. There is no going back to change it. Nor can you manipulate the paint endlessly. This is what I really like that about watercolor. On the other hand, I don’t like the way oil paint is so squishy, and movable.

In my opinion, oil paint is less satisfying than watercolor. Oil paint also smells bad, takes too long to dry, and its toxic. Plus, I am able to achieve the same effects with watercolor, as I am with oil paint.

So for all of the above reasons, I am sticking with watercolor as my most preferred medium. I will also use Acrylics on canvas, again with the same visual results as with oil paints. In my opinion, it is not necessary to risk your health using toxic materials, when there are alternatives that achieve the same , or even better results.

To see my paintings Click Here

Jan 14

How to Protect Watercolor Paintings – Animal Art

Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2016 in Animal Art, How to Paint

I am occasionally asked why I do not use glass and matting on my watercolor paintings.
Here’s my story:

Around 20 years ago, I decided to change the way I frame my watercolor paintings. I had contacted a few galleries about showing my work, which I do from time to time. They stated that watercolors were much harder to sell because of the glare from the glass. Even non glare glass was a problem due to breakage, during shipping. And clients were not as interested in art under glass.

So I felt that I needed to develop an alternative to putting my paintings under glass. So, I looked at vanishes, and after some trial and error, I came up with a pretty good formula that works.

I first spray my painting. I use Krylon Matt spray. I do it out doors so I do not breath the fumes. So, the outside temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees. Otherwise, the varnish will get cloudy. How do I know this? That is the trial and error part. I have had the varnish get cloudy after I complete the spraying, and bring it indoors. This is very upsetting. So it is important to spray when the temps are 50 degrees or above.

So, this is the first step. Two spray coats with 24 hours of drying between coats. I use Krylon matt varnish spray.

Step two. After the two spray coats of Matt varnish have dried, you can then move on to the 2nd step. The liquid varnish. I use Golden brand called Polymere UV protection satin varnish, two coats, allowing them to dry for 3 hours between coats. This gives the painting a nice satin finish. For a black animal, such as a black bear, I use a gloss varnish. This really makes the colors have depth and pop out. Before I use the varnish, I roll the bottle back and forth on a flat surface. I do not shake the bottle as that introduces air bubbles. But it is important to mix the flattening agent in the varnish. That is what gives the varnish its satin finish. Sometimes, when the bottle is nearly empty, I get a sparkly speck on the painting. These is the remnants of the flattening agent. It is easy to pick up this glitter with a piece of drafting tape, low tack. This picks up the sparkly bits very easily, once the painting is dry.

If for some reason, say the cold temperature, the varnish does get cloudy, you can remove the varnish. It is soluble with Mineral Spirits. You can remove the varnish, with great care, using a paper towel, very delicately. If you end up removing some of the pigment from the painting, it is very easy to repaint the area.

If you have a problem with the liquid varnish, it can be dissolved with ammonia. Since the liquid varnish goes on after the spray, removing it usually does not interfere with the painting. It is annoying to have to remove a varnish, but it is good to know that it can be done, and the painting will be fine.

I hope that this is helpful to those of you who want an alternative to glass on watercolor paintings.

Jan 12

Brushes for Nature Art & Animal Art

Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 in How to Paint

People often ask me about the tools I use; more specifically my brushes.
Here’s the straight scoop.

Watercolor brushes need to be able to form a fine point in order to do the fine detail I require in my Paintings. Different brushes are used for acrylic, oil, and watercolor.
Since I am a watercolorist, I’ll discuss the brushes I use for my watercolor paintings.
These are soft brushes made of sable or synthetic fiber or a combination of the two.
I use both round and flat brushes
Round brushes are available in many sizes ranging from tiny to quite large. The brush size is designated by a number from 0 up to 16, 0 being the smallest, the latter being used for fine details including whiskers and individual hairs.
Personally , I use numbers 1 , 4 and 8; and have found that the sable- synthetic combination to be the most effective and longest-lasting of the round brushes.

The flat brushes I use are made of boar bristle. These are also used by artists working with oil and acrylic paints. I use them for applying paint to broad areas and lifting color , when lightening or blending paint.

Since I like to work on semi-rough watercolor paper, my brushes tend to wear out fairly quickly, especially on the tips. Once the tip has worn off , it becomes impossible to do fine detailed work. You can try to trim the brush to slightly improve its performance, but you won’t be able to restore it to its original tip. As a result, I go thru brushes rather quickly; at least one or two per painting.

Some specialty brushes I use include the extended tip brush; which has a large base and tapers to a half-inch long, skinny tip. This brush will hold lots of paint, enabling you to do a long, thin brush stroke, as long as two or three feet!
I also use long ( one and one half inch)skinny brushes ( number 1) for whiskers.
Large brushes (8 to 10) are used for applying paint to large areas.

I now prefer the brushes made by the Rosemary Brush Co. in England. They are a combination of sable and synthetic, are reasonably priced, and last over twice as long as any others I have used. My previous favorite were the series7 made by Windsor-Newton; but are the most expensive brushes on the market. I have used thousands of these over the years, but the quality seems to have declined; thus my change to Rosemary. I have never regretted the decision.

Please get back to me if you have any questions, or better yet, check out my paintings at ;

Feb 4

Animal Art |the Adventures of Jack and Jill

Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 in Animal Art, How to Paint, Nature Art, North American Animal Art, Wildlife Art

Years ago, when the kids were young, we decided to get some farm animals. We got several Netherland dwarf bunnies, geese, ducks, and goats.

The goats were African Pygmy goats and a french Alpine Dairy goat. We also had dogs, cats and a pony, but that is another story.

We named the pygmy goats, Jack and Jill. They were very playful and rascally. They enjoyed climbing on everything,including us.

Animal Art | White Goat

Animal Art | White Goat

Animal Art | White Goat

One day, in the Summer, I heard a loud commotion in the backyard where our swimming pool was located. The pygmy goats had gotten to the pool area and walked on the pool cover. Since the pool cover was pretty soft, the goats began to sink into the water. I started yelling, “Jack, Jill, GET OUT OF THE POOL!” Then I frantically grabbed the pool skimmer, and started to rescue the goats.

At the same time, our nextdoor neighbor was having some yard work done by her son, who was a local fireman. He heard me yelling, at the goats, and jumped over the fence. Before I knew it , he had jumped into the pool to save “Jack and Jill” The “kids” he heard me yelling at. I was very grateful and thanked him profusely for saving my goats. Remarkably, he was not upset, about my kids actually being goats and not children.

I returned the goats back to their pen with no further swimming adventures. They enjoyed the rest of the day, cleaner and wiser.

Sep 24

Nature Art|Animal Art|Wildlife Art-Black Bear Part3

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in Animal Art, How to Paint, North American Animal Art

Here’s another video to bring you up-to-date on my painting “Black Bear in an Aspen Grove”, my latest creation in wildlife art.

Aug 29

Nature Art|Animal Art|Wildlife Art-Black Bear Part1

Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 in Animal Art, How to Paint, Nature Art, North American Animal Art, Wildlife Art

Black Bear Painting (in process) is explained by Artist Jacquie Vaux. She describes her previous adventures with Black Bears and discusses the tools and methods she is using for this painting.

I have LOTS more stories and animal art images to share

in my Newsletter Sign up Below:

Aug 10

Why watercolor is my Favorite Medium

Posted on Saturday, August 10, 2013 in African Animal Art, Animal Art, How to Paint, North American Animal Art

Copy of JMV WorkPhoto-Promo

During my career in wildlife art,  I have worked in many different media. But my overwhelming favorite is, and has always been; Watercolor.

Why watercolor? Not because it’s easy. In fact, it is regard as one the most difficult of all painting media to master.

Here’s why: I sincerely enjoy everything about watercolor; all the tools; brushes, pigments, and even the paper.

My preference is for heavy weight paper (300 pounds+) with a rough texture, preferably handmade. The rough texture, although making it more difficult to achieve the fine detail I require, allows me to create an image with increased in depth and richness.

The thickness of the paper allows me to lift pigment off the paper, exposing the white, and giving me precise control of the image. The downside of the heavyweight paper is that it requires a lot more paint.

I enjoy mixing the paints; both on my palate creating new colors and on the paper by allowing two pigments to run into each other. Using brilliant colors becomes a thrilling experience for me.

Watercolor allows me to create soft edges, and gives me the ability to move color around painting. It allows me draw; everything from bold washes to very tiny lines and any combination thereof.

My life is good, especially when I’m working in my favor medium: Watercolor.

Jan 4

Nature Art|Animal Art|Wildlife Art-Bull Elk Part2

I’m eager to share lots more information with you about this painting, but I’m not going to wait until it’s finished. So here it is….

Jan 3

Nature Art|Animal Art|Wildlife Art-Bull Elk Part1

Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2013 in Animal Art, How to Paint, Nature Art, Wildlife Art

I’m so excited about my latest painting, I couldn’t wait to share it with you.But there’s more coming; be sure to watch the other parts Coming Soon…..

Dec 28

How to Select Watercolor Paper for Aminal Art Paintings by Jacquie Vaux

Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 in African Animal Art, Animal Art, How to Paint, North American Animal Art

Here’s a video I recently made to help you select the right kind of paper

Mar 13

Here’s a Painting Lesson- How to paint Old Wood and Plaster

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in Animal Art, Bird Art, Bird Painting, How to Paint

Here’s my video: