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Welcome to Livesay Grafix

Livesay Grafix is owned and operated by me, Larkin Livesay, Jr. I have a degree in Fine and Advertising Art from Carson-Newman University. My primary source of income is the design and manufacturing of signs, decals and banners, but I am also active in illustration and fine art, and anything I can make with my hands. I grew up in and currently live with my family in the beautiful hills of east Tennessee.

Since 1997, our firm has been delivering on our promise to provide unique designs that are both visually dynamic yet environmentally friendly. We pride ourselves on never delivering anything less than perfection to our clients.

From logo design & illustration, t-shirts & mugs to lighted signs built in my shop, we have you covered. Take a look at our project gallery and experience just a few of the many projects we have worked on over the years.

Please take a look around my site, check out my products and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, call or send an email and we can probably make it!

On a personal note, I have a beautiful wife and two great children. We live in East Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mtns. In addition to making signs, I am involved in Fine Art, Illustrations and Writing. I have been an avid reader since I picked up my first book, and continue to love reading sci-fi, fantasy, horror, military and anything related to science, technology and astronomy

I started this blog primarily for my business but will probably delve into many more topics. Thank you for your time, questions and comments welcome!

TUTORIAL: PAINTING A PET PORTRAIT ON SLATE BY Larkin T. Livesay Jr.


                                           Photo 1.

In this tutorial we will primarily be discussing the process I use for painting Pet Portraits on Slate, but most of the techniques should work for canvas as well. I want to stress here that this is the tehnique I developed for painting portraits fairly quickly, since the price point on slate is limited, but you may wish to spend more time and paint higher end portraits on canvas. I also enjoy working on canvas, but this seemed to be a niche that I slid into while running a craft shop in The Great Smoky Mtns. in Tennessee.

                                           Photo 2.

Materials used:

Slate
 – I use old roofing slate, cut to size, sanded and sealed for painting. I will write a seperate article about that process. I also sell prepped slate ready for painting.

Acrylic Paints
 – Use your favorite. For the base coat I prefer Ceramcoat Craft paint, as it’s designed for ceramics and stone. For the rest I use a mixture of craft paints and Artist heavier bodied Acrylics.

Colors
 – This painting requires a very limited palette, and the truth is I prefer using as few colors as possible. White, Black, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Red works well here.

Brushes, Pens, Pencils
 – A couple of liner brushes, a couple of rounds and a small flat is about all I used on this one. You want decent brushes, but I don’t use expensive ones, they seem to wear out about the same, no matter the cost. Make sure one of them is a little frazzled, helps with hair and fur.

Palette
 – I use a piece of coroplast, a very inexpensive plastic substrate used in the sign industry. Acrylic paint will mostly peel right off when dry, and when the palette becomes worn, simply toss it and cut another. You can place the palette with wet paints into a small airtight Tupperware like container for storage. (Hint: A damp paper towel placed underneath the palette will extend the usable life of the paint while stored).

Container of Water
 – For cleaning the brushes and thinning paint. Very important to keep the brushes clean, acrylic is permanent when dry.

Rags or Paper Towels
– Cleaning and drying brushes.

X-acto Knife and Cutting Board

                                   Photo 3.

In Photo 3 you can see where I uploaded the photo provided by the client into Photoshop, so that I can clean up the area around the dog in order to use less ink when printing. I will also keep the image on the screen as a reference while painting. Once the image is clean enough, doesn’t have to be perfect, I print the photo on heavy card stock using a draft setting. If you are painting on canvas, you can use regular paper and tracing paper to transfer the image, but that doesn’t work very well for transferring an image to slate.

                                   Photo 4.

Photo 4 and 5: Using an Xacto Knife and a cutting board, I carefuly cut around the outside of the image.

                                          Photo 5.

                                          Photo 6.

Photo 6: Here you can see where i cut out the eyes, collar and a few other places to help make a few reference marks.

                                          Photo 7.

Photo 7: I carefully trace the image onto the slate with a pencil or pen, then using the Ceramcoat White I apply the first basecoat and let dry. Be careful with ballpoint pens, as the ink will show through the dried paint. I applied 3 coats of white, making sure it was dry between coats.

                                           Photo 8.

Photo 8: Using the pattern, I traced the nose, eyes, collar and made reference marks as needed.

                                           Photo 9.

Photo 9: Here I began to add some basic details. In Photo 10 I continue to add more details, blocking out the black areas and adding some fur. When painting fur it is important to pay attention to the direction of the hair. Use the brushes you’re most comfortable with.

                                            Photo 10.

                                           Photo 11.

 In Photo 11, I finished up most of the black areas, added some white highlights, warmed up the white areas and added detail and color in the mouth.

                                           Photo 12.

 I decided in Photo 12 to add the collar. I had toyed with the idea of leaving it off, but I think it added an element of color and as it was a Dollywood brand collar, I figured it might be important to the clients.

                                            Final Image.

So there you have it. After the image dried for a few hours, I sprayed on a coat of clear Acrylic, any brand will do. I tied a black Paracord to the holes in top for hanging and shipped it to the clients. They loved it. If you decide to get into Pet Portraits, I am sure you will find it very rewarding. People love their pets, and they appreciate when you take the time to make them something special. Pay attention to the eyes and the expression, capture the animal’s personality. Do this and photographic detail is unnecessary.

Thank you for reading, if you like my tutorial please share on the social media of your choice. Feel free to message with any questions.

 Larkin Livesay, Jr.
TWITTER: @larkinlivesay

TIKTOK: @Larkin Livesay

ETSY STORE: LIVESAY GRAFIX

YOUTUBE: Larkin Livesay Jr.

“Every Artist was once an Amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

HOW TO PAINT A SEMI-TRAILER TRUCK ON SLATE BY Larkin T. Livesay Jr.

 

IMG_0198
In this tutorial we will discuss how to paint a Semi-Trailer Truck. The client wanted a painting of one of their trucks on a Slate Clock. Our normal size slates that we work with are 6″ x 9″, 9″ x 12″ and 12″ x 24″. They wanted a larger size so we were able to cut a piece of slate 14″ x 14″. We use only recycled roofing slate from old houses, mainly from the Northeastern states. For the clock area I screen printed the numbers and drilled a hole in the center, then attached a simple clock motor and hands. You can purchase clock movements at any hobby or art store. 

Materials used: 

Slate 
– I use old roofing slate, cut to size, sanded and sealed for painting. I will write a separate article about that process. I also sell prepped slate ready for painting. 

Acrylic Paints 
– Use your favorite. For the base coat I prefer Ceramcoat Craft paint, as it’s designed for ceramics and stone. For the rest I use a mixture of craft paints and Artist heavier bodied Acrylics. 

Colors 
– This painting requires a very limited palette, and the truth is I prefer using as few colors as possible. White, Black, Orange and Red works well here. 
IMG_0190 
 Brushes, Pens, Pencils 
– A couple of liner brushes, a small round and a medium flat is about all I used on this one. You want decent brushes but I don’t use expensive ones, they seem to wear out about the same, no matter the cost. IMG_0185
 Palette 
– I use a piece of coroplast, a very inexpensive plastic substrate used in the sign industry. Acrylic paint will mostly peel right off when dry, and when the palette becomes worn, simply toss it and cut another. You can place the palette with wet paints into a small airtight Tupperware like container for storage. (Hint: A damp paper towel placed underneath the palette will extend the usable life of the paint while stored). 

Container of Water 
– For cleaning the brushes and thinning paint. Very important to keep the brushes clean, acrylic is permanent when dry. 

Rags or Paper Towels 
– Cleaning and drying brushes. 

Xacto Knife and Cutting Board 

STEP 1: 
 First, I uploaded the photo provided by the client into Photoshop, so that I can clean up the area around the Semi-Truck in order to use less ink when printing. The reference photo had a flatbed trailer and I needed to paint the logo on a box trailer, so I merged another photo with the type of trailer I wanted. Since this is a painting tutorial, I won’t confuse the issue by going too much into detail about that process here. I will also keep the image on the screen as a reference while painting. Once the image is clean enough, doesn’t have to be perfect, I printed the photo on heavy card stock using a draft setting. If you are painting on canvas, you can use regular paper and tracing paper to transfer the image, but that doesn’t work very well for transferring an image to slate. IMG_0183
 STEP 2: 
 Using an X-acto Knife and a cutting board, I carefully cut around the outside of the image. 

IMG_0182

IMG_0184
 STEP 3: 
 I carefully traced the image onto the slate with a pencil or pen, then using the Ceramcoat White I applied the first base coat and let dry. Be careful with ballpoint pens, as the ink will show through the dried paint. I applied 3 coats of white, making sure it was dry between coats. 
IMG_0186 IMG_0187

 STEP 4: 
 Next, I cut out around the windows, wheels and other areas as a reference for tracing the details onto the base coated image. Remember to leave enough of the paper intact so that it doesn’t fall apart as you transfer the image. If necessary, print out more than one copy and cut out different areas on each copy. 

IMG_0188

STEP 5: 

Using the pattern, I traced the windows, wheel wells and as many details as I needed to begin drawing in the truck. I try to draw as much detail as possible before I start painting. If I paint over my drawing somewhere, that’s fine; I can always draw it in again over top the painted area. In the next photo you can see the drawn in detail and I’ve started painting in some of the shadows. Mixing in a little blue works well for shadows. You’ll find adding black will make the area look grayer than it really is. 
IMG_0191 

 STEP 6: 
 Now I began blocking in the chromed areas with a medium gray, the tires with black and the maroon of the fender. I didn’t have a maroon color, so I mixed one using red, blue and a little black. Put as many coats as needed to establish a smooth and even surface. 

IMG_0192

STEP 7: 

I began adding some detail and highlights. Mainly separating the lights and darks, not being too worried about individual areas. Canvas is much easier to paint on than stone, especially when it comes to maintaining straight lines. 
IMG_0196 

 STEP 8: 

There needed to be a logo on the trailer. Using PhotoShop, I warped the logo to the right perspective for the trailer. The left side, or nearer side, of the logo needs to be larger than the right side, or farther side. I printed the logo onto a regular sheet of typing paper, then covered the back of the logo area in graphite, making my own transfer paper. I taped one side of the paper to the slate and traced over the image with a fine ball point pen. This process left a faint image on the trailer that I could follow to paint the logo. 
IMG_0193

 STEP 9: 
 Using a liner brush, I carefully painted the logo and began refining the details and highlights of the chromed areas, the windows and wheels. IMG_0199

 STEP 10: 
 I finished out the details, adding the lights, more detail and highlights in the chromed areas, the tires and shadows underneath the truck. IMG_0199

 FINAL IMAGE: 

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and that it has helped you in your future endeavors. All of the techniques demonstrated here can be used in many other types of paintings. Thank you for reading my tutorial, constructive criticism and questions welcome. Please take a few seconds and share on your favorite social media. 

IMG_0198

-Larkin T. Livesay, Jr. 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LarkinLivesayJr

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0PVE5Ro9aaBSysqVdwuHAA

TikTok: @livesaygrafix 

ETSY STORE: lIVESAY GRAFIX

“Every artist was once an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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