Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Cactus and a Technique

Christmas Cactus

6x6in oil on canvas panel   $100.

Christmas cactus plant in full bloom. This is an older
painting changed slightly so it is not painted using
the fracturing technique.

Artist Note.

Another technique some of you may find interesting.

 Pixalation. ( I call it Pixalating)
Just as the computer breaks everything
down into tiny pixels and digital art has its own proponents of
painting on the computer,
so, too, can a oil, acrylic and watercolor artist achieve
the same effect only with, in my opinion,  more of an "alive" result.

I did a pixel version of an apple and also a tree with larger marks,
see below.
To me, it all goes back to pointillism. The public is
very accepting of this technique at the moment - unlike
when pointillism first came out, because
they are more used to seeing pixels on the computer.

Using a straight edge 'bright' brush to make square marks,
this is technique is very compatible
with watercolor as well as oil and acrylics.
The artists in the Guild have enjoyed trying this one a great deal.

Make square strokes in two or three values or colors to make
the form. I use as side motion and a down brush motion.
I have found this variation is more active.
Keep areas of color in the correct place to save the
form from being lost. If you squint at the Apple you can
see the dark areas around the edges and under the light
top area. Same on the tree . Remember, keep the light
in the light and the shadow areas in the shadow
It is important on the edges to bring the negative into
he positive, and visa-versa.
There is an interesting site with excellent information
which also can apply to paint (click on)

The artist CHUCK CLOSE found his own way to grid faces.
His is a fascinating way of breaking the edges and if you
are interested there are many
 articles on his work. Notice how the light areas hold
together so it does not look spotty. His is a slow way to
paint a portrait as he makes different designs in each square.

setting the squares
on an angle.

Chuck Close is one of the important portrait artists
of the 20th/21st century.
There is an interesting, interview by
Charles Osgood with Chuck, (click on)
Technique is discussed
Do yourself a favor and watch and listen to this amazing
man. You do not have to love his work to be engrossed.

Posted by Picasa


  1. Your Christmas cactus is wonderful Julie. I never knew there was such a thing. I enjoyed the video of Chuck Close. His work is truly amazing. My husband and I saw some of his HUGE paintings in New York City two summers ago. They are a site to behold for sure!

    1. HOW GREAT to have you back. You will see the Christmas cactus in the stores now you know what they look like.
      Glad to know you have seen Chuck's work. He is amazing what he has come through but he does have a wonderful wife who helped him so much.

    2. Lisa, go grab yourself one. They are delightful.

  2. wow, i love this pixalation technique, julie. you chose such awesome colors for the apple and its background! i will try this.

    is the fracturing technique what you do in your paintings now? i am just mesmerized by it, whatever it is! do you talk about it in a post somewhere? i'd sure love to read about it if you do.

    since i can't reply to your comments via e-mail, i will say here that i appreciate your comments so much! your comments are as interesting and real as your paintings. : )



    1. Thanks for the really nice comment, Lynne. Yes - the fracturing has been developed this year, You can enter in the search bar on the side of my bar. I made a tool to do it which is shown on how to make it somewhere back in early May I think.
      I have made an artbyte video on the technique, which has to be polished up a bit and then I will let everyone know when it is on DPW

    2. Julie, I cannot find this tool of which you speak. I scanned your May blogs. Will it be talked about in the artbyte so I can build it?

    3. It is on May 2 and 3rdand with ways to use it. I am doing a free artbyte which will be showing it too.

  3. It is a beautiful cactus painting Julie!
    I have enjoyed Chuck Close's work in live sizes at San Jose , was rooted the ground with amazement!

    1. Me too! He has overcome so much so I admire him on different levels. Thanks for the visit.

  4. Lovely painting! This year my Christmas cactus is a Thanksgiving cactus as the flowers started a blaze of color around the middle of November.

    1. Mine too. Thanks for the visual you gave me with the words, "a blaze of color." Perfect!

  5. Seeing your christmas cactus on my side bar, I thought it was a photograph...looks so real ! Always fabulous work to be found here. Now I am going to check out Chuck Close, wish you a nice day.

    1. You are right - it is more realistic than the fracturing.
      I have enjoyed seeing your wonderful roses, Jane.

  6. I like your pixelating, Julie. Not a fan of the Close work, I don't think. A bit too abstracted for my taste. I've been intrigued by pointillism though. The Christmas cactus is gorgeous!

    1. You may not like his work but I know you will admire how he emerged from such a handicap. Life can throw us a rock and we can climb on top or crawl under it. I see you are on top of yours!

  7. Great painting of the Christmas cactus and I love the pixilated samples too. You never run out of ideas! You should get a prize for all the generous instruction and suggestions!

    1. Thanks so much. Celeste. Nice of you to say.
      Looking forward to reading the letter you posted

  8. Beautiful cactus, Julie and I fund the video fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Glad you took the time to see the video. Remarkable how he overcame his handicap.
      Love the old telephone you painted.

  9. Beautiful Christmas Cactus painting, Julie!!! My cactus usually blooms around Valentine's Day :)

    1. Mine stared early this year.
      Love your bird. fabulous.

  10. Dear Julie - this is so interesting - I really am going to study this technique because you mentioned it can be done in watercolor or acrylic. Thanks for sharing. I have a Christmas cactus just getting ready to bloom - they are so lovely this time of the year. Thanks for your kind words and visit - regarding Frankie. Bless you my friend and have a wonderful day.

    1. It works even better in watercolor because you start pale and work up.
      Good luck my dear.

  11. Dear Julie, the more your post is really interesting and complex and my English with the help of the translator becomes insufficient to express my thoughts.
    I admire your Christmas Cactus and I would like to write so much on the thoughts moved by your words, but I can not get well.
    The important thing is to get  from you  much information of art history  and study them as a treasure! Thanks for sharing your great knowledge!Rita.

    1. My lovely Rita, your writing is always a treasure. I admire the way you communicate your feelings so well.
      Love your Blue Challenge painting and like me you are going to do another one. We are real students of art - always wanting to learn.

  12. This is so beautiful,Julie. I love the dark background making the Christmas Cactus stand out.. I will check Chuck Close out!!! Thanks for sharing another interesting post!!

  13. Hello Julie:) This cactus is one of my favorite plants! Your painting is so beautiful and the colors are wonderful. Thanks for sharing the information about the pixalation technique. Very interesting!


I love that you are taking the time to comment and thank you for it. I am sure other readers will enjoy them too. If you cannot comment through this format then email me at