Organic artist Deb Haugen and the Airbrush….starting out simple!
Years ago I studied with an amazing painter by the name of Jack Reilly. He taught me how to use an airbrush, and really see color. I studies with Jack for several years, and learned a lot. Eventually Jack left the studio, I took over the studio and the students. I taught surfboard makers, car painters, illustrators, fabric designers, model makers, and special effects guys. I taught a beginning airbrush class, and learned a lot also from my students with all of the different applications they were using.
We used an H1 Paasche airbrush, it being a single action. The single action brushes are very easy to use for beginners. You press a button and that gives you spray, then you use the appreture setting at the tip to give you line/spray width. To start out with, I find it’s a lot easier to work with your paper or canvas hung on a wall, you standing in front of it level. Instead of worrying about learning over and spilling ink or paint out of your airbrush, with the artwork on a wall your body can move an adjust. It’s very important to keep a good stance, loose, and be able to move with fluidity. You are strifing for fluidity with the use of an airbrush, so when you FEEL fluid this helps your work. Bend at the knees a bit, and plant your feet apart even with your shoulders. You will feel steady and in control, a good thing to be while airbrushing.
Look through a magazine for a photograph of folded or draped fabric in a solid color, or shoot a pic yourself to work from. This will be your first study in what the airbrush can accomplish for you. Take that photo and reduce it into a black and white image, making sure it has high lights and high lows in value. Mix your colors. This exercise works best in black and white, shades of grey, you’ll see why later. Mix 5 colors from very dark to extrememly light greys. Once you trace in or draw, or project the image, you can start airbrushing. I use watered down acrylic paint, take care in mixing or even straining out any lumps. I paint very large and found that mixing my own acrylic paints to spray works better for me and is extremely cost efficient…..yes, I’m cheap when it comes to supplies, I am always looking to cut costs down. In airbrush work it’s always better to work from light to dark. At the end you can come in with some very light highlights to make the art come alive.
Work the folds, and drapes evenly and with a fluid motion to your hands and body movement. Flow with it and fool around with how close you are to the paper. If you are getting dripps on the paper, you are putting too much paint on it all at once, and or you might be too close to the paper. Back up and SLOW down. When you airbrush it’s not easy to see the spray at first, you’ll become accustomed to it after awhile. It does take full concentration, but don’t tense your shoulders and get too tight, that will show in your artwork. Once you have finished the grey draped fabric, now it is time for some magic. Mix up a transparent color, such as a Phthalo blue, or even one of the new Luiqitex transparent inks, spray evenly and very lightly from a distance over your entire painting. This creates lots of ooo’s and ahhhs from students, as it makes the fabric come to life.
Lastly have fun with the airbrush, have patience, and experiment. It takes a bit of use to get comfortable but you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Deb Haugen is a Malibu artist, and is known as “The Organic Artist”. Her work is in collections worldwide, and you can visit her web site at http://www.theorganicartist.com
If you are into the airbrush tattoo scene, why not expand your horizons and your income by adding body painting and face painting to your repertoire of services. With a little practice, you can work photo shoots and special events year around and make more money. Olive Branch Skin Care has the perfect water based body paint that is easy to use and is easy to remove. Spray it on, wear it for the day, and wash it off with warm soapy water when your day is done. If you have any questions, please visit our website at www.OliveBranchSkinCare.com or give us a call at 864-895-0870 and we’ll be glad to help you get started.