View Full Version : Photorealism.....How Bruce (Gaka) Gets His Detail

12-02-2002, 04:57 PM
Gaka....the article is fabulous! I know that many forum members striving to do photorealism will really benefit from this! :D

For those of you who haven't seen the article....be sure to check it out!


Anna Marie
12-02-2002, 05:05 PM
Oh My Gosh he makes it sound easy!

12-02-2002, 05:17 PM
Yea I can do that. I don't use my fingers LOL HEE HEE Omg You have to see all that detail to capture it. (getting new glasses) LOL *S* Great article

12-02-2002, 05:27 PM
Thanks once more for all this great information. I followed your demonstration in another thread and went right away to see if I could find the blending sticks. Unfortunately my art store didn't carry them. But... for anyone else that can't find them, I was told that you could use a plastic (mars-type) eraser and cut it with a razor to the shape you want. I haven't tried that yet, but I am working on a new piece and using tissues as you have mentioned. So far-so good.
Thanks again. I really like your stuff and thanks for sharing!

12-02-2002, 06:12 PM

12-02-2002, 06:32 PM
Holy Moses....this is one fantastic demo. Thank you so much Gaka:clap: :clap:

12-02-2002, 07:02 PM
Gee, he makes it sound as though even I could do it. :-) Must give it a try...

12-02-2002, 07:11 PM
Hi Everyone

Thank you fo your comments. If one person can achieve their dream of painting photorealism Pastels because of the information I share, Then there would not be a happier person.

Re: Color shapers/blending sticks....Color shapers are a synthetic type of rubber and they do not remove the pastels, I have some in my art suppliers and I demonstrated them to Crumbedbrains. He could not get them anywhere so he looked into an alternative and came up with a neoprene/synthetic (white) V belt material which he cut down to a chisel V shape and then put it inot a pastel/charcoal holder and it worked well for him. I have not tried it yet as I have not painted a pastel in the last 2 years, Terrible I know!!! Blending sticks or tortillons are paper rolled up very tightly and they can be sharpened or shaped to suit whatever you are doing, they are fine if you do not have or can not get the color shapers. Be careful not to rub them too hard into the background and damage the tooth of the paper

I have a round white rubber (mars type) that I cut down to clean up the edges or remove and mistakes but it does not blend as it removes the pastel. You could experiment with just about anything...you never know what is going to work for you or what new tool you will find.


12-03-2002, 01:46 AM
Gaka, Crumbie and other Aussies,
I have been doing some research into Colourshapers and have been told that Art Stretchers ( the makers of Art Spectrum products) has become the new Australian distributor.

They say it may take a few months to get them imported but they will be available again in OZ. They have promised to let me know when - will pass on the info if they do. I tried carving my own out of white rubbers, but also found it removes rather than blends.



12-03-2002, 07:32 AM
100% Bonza job Bruce. I can learn something here. Thank you for a wonderful Article. ONYACOBBER :clap: :clap: :clap:

12-03-2002, 03:52 PM
Wonderful instruction! I did my cocker spaniel puppy using some of his methods. Don't know how to act without my Colour Shapers--didn't know that you can sharpen them tho!! (Since one of them is quite worn down.) I get them at our Aaron Bros. store, the only art store I know of that carries them.

Now if I can just keep my fingers out of the painting.....:D


12-04-2002, 03:50 PM
Gaka, if you haven't done a pastel piece in two years, what have you been working on lately? I'm sure we'd all like to see what is new on your easel.

I'm really inspired by your animal pieces- they may even get me back in the "studio" such as it is (spare bedroom!).

12-04-2002, 06:27 PM
Hi Everyone

Thank you for visiting this post and your kind comments.

Shirl....how did your Cocker painting go and did you find my metods much easier than what you had been doing?

Brooke....Basicaly I have been working 6 days a week for the last 2 years. The last year I was working in an Art supply shop and I left because I was selling art materials to others artist who were going out and painting and this was making me more and more frustrated because I was not painting at all, so I quit!....I had never painted Acrylics before, So I started painting a Great Egret in Acrylics to get some knowledge to be able to use in the art shop. I have finished it since I stopped working....but the Egret took me some 300hrs and it takes me quite a while to recover from something of this intensity. I am just getting enthusiastic again now and I have been looking for my next subject and medium. If you want to check out the Great Egret it is in the Structured Critique Forum. I paint in a 3 sided double garage with no front door in the apartments where I live and only half of it is mine to use. Come on,"GET BACK" to that studio/bedroom and start painting and posting :D Pleeeeeease :)


12-08-2002, 09:00 AM
wonderful article, and unique and rare talent.

It also goes to demonstrate the common struggle we have as artists. Talent alone is no guarantee of monetary success, but unfortunately often measures by the world's standards the worth of an individual.

With major monetary awards and opportunities just beyond reach, we experience that constant humility, and often such talents can surpass those that are "making it" as they say. Its frustrating especially when the public's eye is trained not on judging the work but the accolade and prominence. They get more sense of transcendence meeting someone so highly esteemed.

It strikes us very hard at the core of why it is we do what we do. Suffice it to say...as an artist that pursued that pedastal of the wildlife art elite...I've met my share of artists who have more or less sold their artistic soul. They had the audacity to privately share their envy toward those that possess a worldclass talent yet have the freedom to choose their daily itinery, subjects, etc;

Seems we all have prisons of some kinds and weights to bear.

Still...excellence and discovering if one can work past apparent barriers pushes many of us. To those who insist upon such excellence even in the face of opportunity to market lesser demanding mediocre trinkets...why, there we are witnessing something of true transcendent wonderment. Simply stubbornness? Some kind of rebellion? Well...perhaps, perhaps a resistence to anything less than what we might be capable of.

I work for a higher call, a glory beyond us....which is evidence of a Higher idea. To be a living testament that something beyond the "norm" awaits one and all. Its been said that money is the root of all evil. Well...if the pursuit of it would cause artists to not expel every ounce of energy to discover if excellence were potentially in their grasp...then that would be evil indeed.

I see and connect with your talent, and your frustration Gaka, working other jobs rather than bend and yield to mediocrity. It is exhausting to produce such works....and often the reward is not sufficient to re-energize us. I encourage you to struggle on. Perhaps if we are not rewarded in this life, we shall be in the next. If anything else, such excellence will be an indictment against the ever pervasive intrusion of "so so" mediocre existence.

You are a gift to us....


angel NT
12-14-2002, 04:08 AM

12-14-2002, 08:36 AM
Gaka - I wonder if you ever have time to market yourself and your work, if you are working 6 days a week NOT painting? Don't you think you could invest some time and energy in yourself? Maybe you have tried, forgive me if I am being impertinent, but I canot bear the thought that such a huge talent is going to waste. There MUST be some ways to earn some money with what you do. You have enormous dedication and talent ... and so many people seem to love what you produce ... couldn't you take a leap of faith, and perhaps work part time to pay the rent, and spend the rest of the time, even if it was only a couple of days a week, painting and marketing yourself, maybe with the help of an agent or a gallery or by distributing leaflets if all else fails ... I don't know what, I'm not brilliant at it myself, but I have had some success over the years, and it has been through sheer plugging away and forcing myself onto people. All I do know is that if you are spending 6 days a week doing other things, you cannot paint, and cannot live the dream, can you.


12-14-2002, 12:46 PM
I agree.
I surely hope, if nothing else, Bruce can find an illustration job BUT!!!!! I think I understand the dynamics.
I used to do commercial... that is all advertising which is very little art.
I switched careers totally and forgot how much I love it.
Sometimes it is a choice to do something that keeps the love of the art safe, away from the constant assault of the marketplace.
Although THIS quality of work I feel is IMPERVIOUS to the arrows of criticism.

I wonder what the marketing secret is?
Somewhere out there should be the kindred soul here or there that can show our stuff out there so we can just keep painting and not waste that precious time with chasing the market.
They call them agents, but they don't advertise in the newspaper.

I am also meditating every day to accept the reality that it is not me: the people who may want me are as frightened of the economy as I am so it is just a really weird time to jump in with two feet.
I AM JEALOUS that at the end of the day, Bruce can at least grab a couple of new sticks now and then to try at home... I just occasionally polish my OWN toenails at work!

12-14-2002, 05:29 PM
Gaka -
8 years ago, after the tragic loss of a son, my husband and I totally reassessed our priorities. We were both doing jobs we hated and both waiting to retire, to follow our dreams.

We both left our jobs, he learned to picture frame ( a wonderful gift from my then framer), and we moved to the country and set up our own business.

We've been going for nearly 7 years now. I won't say it isn't hard - often we aren't sure how next months bills will be paid - but we have survived and have had no regrets.

I too produce wildlife paintings that are very detailed and take me up to 4 weeks to complete. It is hard to get people to understand this, and to charge enough to make it worth while, but I won't compromise my standards, so we struggle on!

I know ther frustration of seeing paintings whipped up in half an hour being snapped up for higher prices than mine - but when I look around my little gallery, I have the satisfaction of knowing I have been true to myself.

You may like to check us out at www.dulkara.com



Anna Marie
12-14-2002, 07:03 PM
just hopped into your Gallery and love your work.

12-14-2002, 07:08 PM
Minky, I just checked out your gallery and I'm very impressed with your work. They are truly outstanding. What media do you use?

The only "critique" I can dare to give you is I wish your site allowed viewers to enlarge the images to allow us to see more of your exquisite detail. I know I have seen sites that have small images, but then you can click on them and the image would enlarge.

Keep up the dreams and fantastic work.


12-14-2002, 07:19 PM
Wonderful work Minky...never compromise your standards.

Good luck to you and your husband....stay loyal to the dream:D

Best wishes..... Chris

12-15-2002, 02:29 AM
Hi Everyone

Thank you all veru much for your commemts and concerns about my art and future

I will generalize this answer to all that have made comments.....Setting standards!!!! I have been involved in one creative career or antother since I was 17...some 39yrs ago. Everything that I have done I have done with an obsession for perfection and I became very well know in many of my fields. I have never ever sought to be well known and I have never been comfortable with this, it is a result of setting a standard, reaching that standard and maintaining that standard.

I have set my own standards that I want to achieve and maintain with my paintings and I will never go back from what I have set. I do not seek fame and fortune and sell millions of art prints etc....I understand what you were saying Jackie and I aknowledge your determination in persuit of your dream and I appreciate your concern of my talent being wasted, But if I only have time to complete one painting a year, then I am happy that I have achieved what I set out to do and I reached the standard that I had set and I do not consider my talent to have been completely wasted....Sure I should paint more, I should make more time, I should work less.... but I dont ....I paint when I choose to paint, yes you could say that it is slack and I need a kicking and I have to agree sometimes....But that is me and me is me!!:D

If I sell a painting....great, If I never sell a painting...great. It is not the reason I paint. Doing a painting is like work for me, I do not enjoy my paintings a lot (as in fun)....but I realy enjoy the challenge, the difficulty, the perfection, the frustration, the hours of thinking, the questioning, the patience, the highs and lows, the achievement.....and when I have succeeded in all of this, there is no money that could buy the sense of achievement that I get from reaching my goal and attaining the level of perfection and the standards that I have set.

My ultimate reward for me in my paintings is others enjoying my work or being inspired by my work and being able to share any little knowledge that I have with others who have a dream in the hope that I may have been of some assistance in helping them got one more step closer to their dream.

I agree with you Taminka 100% and I will visit your web site after this.

DJstar When I paint what I please I do not have a battle with galleries saying you should paint this or that because they like it here.....Tropical Queensland where I am everything is Reef, Rainforest..Frogs or Fish....geeeeesh give me a break. I am not going to paint only frogs and fish and be like the other 40 artist here that are all competing to sell their frogs and fish. Yes I know the internet is a whole world...but I do not want the whole world, I am happy in my world just sitting here being me.

Take care...Gaka...Bruce

Anna Marie
12-15-2002, 06:35 AM
Good on you Gaka.

I once had a difference of opinion with my Boss in the Office and when I said but this is me and this is who I am he didnt understand.

My main reason for selling work is
a) that I have run out of Walls and
b) why should I give it away.

Currently I just charge enough to make people feel that they have something of value.

Having looked at your work if you charged people what it is truly worth then those that really care probably couldnt afford it. Always a tricky one.

So I guess you will have to continue being true to yourself.

01-23-2003, 06:06 PM
:D I really enjoyed your demo. I have to admit when I am painting I always get paint all over my hand or sometimes I put my hand or finger in a face or something and mess it up. It has always been frustrating to me. I never thought of using a dowel stick to prevent this from happening. I am going to get one today and can't wait to try it. Thanks again

08-28-2003, 11:29 AM
Soaked in the info on the demo. Loved it. Can this method be used with oil pastels? That's all I have at the moment.

08-28-2003, 11:43 AM
nice to see this come up...am truly inspired by Gaka and totally understand how it's more work than play but so very worth it...hope to see something more...no matter how long it takes...

08-29-2003, 03:23 AM
Hi Lyd

Regarding your question about Oil Pastels, I don't think that it would be possible to use the same method with Oil Pastels as with chalk Pastels refered to in the article. There are many other artists on WC who could answer you question much better than me at this time....I paint chalboard menu's in chalk pastels and they are now doing the menu's in oil pastels and painting a waterbased clear over them to protect them...I have a set of "oil" neo pastels but I am yet to use them and learn the best way to get the best results for my style of artwork and for menu boards.

Dyin....Thank you for your comment..yes there are some other works in the pipeline, I will post a WIP when I get a digital camera etc.


08-29-2003, 10:21 AM
:clap: Can't wait!!! :clap:

08-29-2003, 11:45 AM

Then I will experiment and see how it works and let you know.
You have inspired me so.

08-29-2003, 11:58 AM
There is a show I have entered Bruce, that I might suggest you consider.

It is an international show on birds....begins in Wausau, Wisconsin then travels to various parts of the United States, and then I believe to a couple countries. Very prestigious.

Since your interest is to have your work seen...this is one way to be counted among some of the better artists and gain wide viewership.

The show is the Birds in Art show, and prospectus can be received from the museum which initiated the show near 25 years ago or so at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Visit the site, and perhaps even order one of the more recent catalogs of past shows to get an idea on work accepted.


08-29-2003, 08:57 PM
Thanks Larry

I should start spreading my wings (Excuse the pun!) and look to broader horizons as I am using my own reference material or copyrite free reference material now. This will allow me to get my wildlife art into the open market and art exhibitions worldwide. I will look into the Birds in Art show and also keep it for future reference.

Thanks for the link once again Larry.