Saturday, April 14, 2012

From the Desk: First Adventure with the Airbrush

Today I tried out my airbrush for the first time. Almost a year ago I purchased this airbrush kit and had yet to actually use it. I'd done a little reading but decided that, like painting, there's a lot of merit to just jumping in and trying it out. There's plenty of resources out there about airbrushing so I'm not going to turn this post into a how-to, especially since I'm still a complete neophyte. Instead, this is just going to be a bunch of my observations and outcome from this first experience. None of my painted subjects are impressive by any stretch, as they were really just target practice.

The picture here shows my workspace after the experiment. This brings me to the first note I feel was key to a successful first try: Have a backstop. I built a quick cardboard backstop to make sure that overspray was caught and didn't destroy my dining table.

Getting everything set up and started was easier than I expected, probably because everything came in a single kit. The airbrush I got is a dual action which is more flexible, but also has a steeper learning curve obviously. This brings me to my second observation: Fine control is more challenging that I expected. This is an obvious "duh" sort of comment, but I can't understate just how much I expect practice to play into it.

On the flipside, it occurred to me between coats of paint that there was usually leftover paint in the reservoir. Rather than just immediately dump it to prepare for the next coat of whatever, I opted for the following: Use leftover paint for practice. Even just practicing on the backstop was incredibly helpful.

When it came to actually applying paint, the reservoir works a little funky (it's below and draws paint up into the airbrush). I found it challenging to keep the right angle to the reservoir and also apply paint at the same time. To that end: Moving the target around instead of the airbrush made for a smoother process. There's definitely a happy middle ground here as moving the airbrush is necessary, but changing its angle is what caused more of the problems than anything else. Again, lots more practice will help I'm sure.

So obviously just practicing with the airbrush is going to be a major part of getting better, just like with painting. Some of the logistical stuff like getting more efficient with set up, changing paints, cleaning, and tear down will make a difference in overcoming the inertia of just doing it. However my goal this first time was really just to have a first try at it. It's part of a new psychological strategy I have for my New Year's Resolutions: Commit to doing something once and let the repetition follow after overcoming the hurdle of the first time. It worked great with the gym, and hopefully it'll be the same with the airbrush.

I can definitely say that I intend to use it for a lot of base coating, particularly for metals, since it makes things really fast and smooth. Even just doing this will make for a good bit of practice toward refining my sense of the controls.

Ok, enough typing. It's time to get back to actual painting. Hopefully this will be the first of many uses of the airbrush in the future.

1 comment:

Angus McNicholl said...

I love my airbrush, and with some practice I'm sure you will too. The biggest irritation I have is cleaning the thing after use.

If you are not fastidious about it you are going to have problems next time you take it out.