Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Happenings

There are a lot of great things brewing here around the paint bench so I thought that I’d take a breather for a moment and outline a few of those new things on the horizon for the fall and winter.

After bouncing around a bit this summer trying to locate the right spot to hold classes, I have made the decision to resume my airbrush classes at BearAir in Easton. The first one will be the introduction to Airbrushing Class in January with another to follow in April. I am very excited to get these classes rolling again! Classes can be purchased directly at www.BearAir.com or shortly at www.stevenleahy.com.
Next bit of news is the addition of a store to my website. This has been planned for a while and it is fantastic to know it is in the final stages. From the online store, you will be able to sign up for classes, purchase artwork (both reproductions and originals) and even possibly airbrushes through Richpen. Look for the brand new store very soon!

Third event that has started brewing is the next solo art exhibit. The process now is at the stage where I am drawing up a proposal for the show and beginning to look for a venue. The show itself will feature the miniature artwork from the past year. One of things that I have found is that for as great as the online reaction to these paintings has been, it is nothing like the experience of seeing them for real. Everything from the beauty of the custom built frames to the actual artwork, it is the impact of the total package that makes the experience. The rough date for the opening will likely be in May of 2013 so stay tuned.

Finally, the workbench has been buzzing lately with commissions. That is always good for keeping the lights on. The latest has been the razor blade painting for NASCAR driver #96 Ben Kennedy. The challenge here was to pull off the sponsor logos in a way that would look real. Once this painting is clear, I have two more commissions to get done before I start digging into some of the new paintings for the show in May. My artistic passion is really fueled there as I can take chances on my own pieces that I cannot take on someone else’s. Keep an eye on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/StevenLeahyArt for daily updates on those and all other studio projects.

Thanks as always for checking in and seeing what is new!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To Air is Human

Air and Steel 1.75"x3" Wicked Colors on titanium 2011
To Air is Human

Over the next few blogs, I hope to answer some of the questions about the tools and materials that have found their way onto my bench as the standard. Hopefully the information from my trial and error will help you shorten your learning curve. This week the focus will be on the heart of the operation, the airbrush. 

It was 1988 and I was a sophomore in college learning to be an illustrator. At the time we were surrounded by the incredible commercial art of artist’s like Eddie Young and Michael Cacy and the stunning work of Sorayama. Seeing all of this amazing art and knowing that one of the common threads in all of it was the airbrush sealed my decision to get one of my own.

1988 Iwata HP-SB

My search however, began with absolutely no idea of what I was doing or what I really needed to get started. Fortunately my father knew of someone that worked in his company that did know about airbrushes. I remember telling him that was that I really didn’t care how much it cost, I just wanted the best I could get. Of course I was secretly hoping that his answer wasn’t going to shatter my fragile Ramen Noodle/ Suzy-Q college based budget. The airbrush that he recommended I get was the Iwata HP-SB side feed airbrush. He listened to what I was hoping to get out of the airbrush and he knew that the fine detail, slow feeding SB would do the job. He was right. For the next twelve years that brush served me flawlessly. As fast as I could learn a new technique, that airbrush had the refinement and quality to keep up.

In the early part of the 2000’s some changes in my personal life found me looking for the stability of a full time job. I couldn’t have been luckier to have BearAir right in my back yard. After a long interview (it was more like an airbrush discussion between old friends) I was hired. Suddenly it was like a kid let loose in a candy store. I now had access to every major airbrush brand on the market. If there was a brush to beat my venerable SB, it would be here. Some of the staff recommended the gravity fed HP-C from Iwata but I found the larger .3mm needle and nozzle did not seem to atomize the paint with the same control and refinement that the .2mm SB did.

Richpen 213c Plus
All during this time, there was a brand of airbrush that hung in the background. Richpen. They were a Japanese airbrush and like Olympos, lacked the distribution of some of the other brands so they weren’t as well known in the U.S. One model in particular kept finding its way into my hands. The model was the Phoenix 213c. This .3mm gravity feed seemed to defy the stereotype of the other .3mm gravity feeds. This brush was able to atomize the paint at the same level as my .2mm side feed yet had the faster feed of a gravity feed and the larger paint reservoir. In addition, because it had a .3mm tip, it was able to work with a thicker viscosity paint. It was the best of both worlds. In the beginning I was using it to cover larger areas of my work that needed a controlled application of color. Slowly however, I found myself using the 213c for more and more in my work. I was able to get some staggeringly fine lines out of it even with the thicker acrylic paints I was using.

I did find some discomfort however in the beehive shaped trigger of the airbrush. The original solution was to grind it down however Steve Angers at BearAir found a more comfortable trigger for the brush which thankfully eliminated the extra work of modification. One other very helpful upgrade to the design of the 213 came in the introduction of the cutaway handle. Cleanouts were made much easier now that the needle chuck can be accessed instantly. This new model was designated the Richpen 213c plus and still to this day the only airbrush to unseat my trusty Iwata.

The important thing to take away from all of this is that the airbrush that ultimately ends up in your hand must be an extension of you. It needs to perform the job that you intend it to do with the least amount of compromise. Search out high quality and reassure your goal by knowing that the expense will be worth it.

Next blog, I’ll be looking at the similar evolution of the paint that I have been using. Please post any questions, comments or thoughts, I'd love to hear them! Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Funny how things evolve

Wicked Colors on dogtag

When I began this blog, it was meant to be the place that I would break down and share the progress of the new paintings. What was quickly found was that the power and reach of facebook easily covered the ability to show the updates from the studio on a daily basis. I was left with the need for a place that I could get more in depth with the steps and processes that are involved in getting the paintings done. This blog has evolved to fill that need. Here will be the place to share some of the things that I have learned about the different techniques and tools. In addition, because of the blog's format, it can also be a great place to answer questions and get feedback about the current projects.

So please, bookmark this page, share it and check back often. Most of all, let me know what you think. Your input will help drive the direction of this blog!