Friday, May 20, 2011

Work in progress - Thayer's Angel (finish)

Here's the finish of the Thayer copy.  (Please contact Tidewater Gallery in Swansboro NC for more information.) The general process was working up the painting in full color, opaque, with a good deal of body. Even the shadows are opaque. Then the last layer involves some glazing of details (feathers and bodice), raising the chroma in the cheeks and eye creases, reinforcing edges with (gasp) hard lines (see the top of the shoulder on our right).

One of the difficulties with the copy was to remember that that I was trying to paint *like* him, in his way. So for a brush stroke, I wanted to lay something similar to that brush stroke - its intention, strength, and body English... Yet at times I found myself leaning toward making a painting of a visible brushstroke, because I wanted to make a good copy. (And I knew you would all see it, haha.)

In the end, I split the difference. Some things were done like him, some things were done like me in an effort to duplicate him, some things were cut short because unlike him, I don't have 5 years to tinker. But I am so pleased about what I learned. Some effects in this manner of painting are so easy to execute that it almost seems like cheating. The blush in the cheeks and simple emotion in the eyes, for instance: I took some time and tried different hues to see what would happen, and could alter her *expression* by changing the hue of the glaze in her eyes. That was unexpected - a little more toward alizarin crimson and she seemed fiercely tearful. More toward Burnt sienna, and she was stronger, less tearful. I will be playing with it some more.

Also dig: the buildup of paint on the bodice - I cannot express enough how easy and effective that is. Pops right out at ya. I think I will abandon the 15-translucent-layer method I've been slaving over for years.

After Abbott Handerson Thayer's Angel, 11 x 14", oil on linen

Last chance to sign up for the Flower workshop...  3 days of intensive training in a small group setting. We'll go through the whole process, start to finish, of creating realistic and meaningful flower paintings. May 27-29, downtown Aurora. Click here to sign up.

One last thing... I have a new blog for my music. Please go there and subscribe if you like it. Thanks. ;-)

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Linen Panels (and a new music video)

Please comment with your experiences. I am by no means an expert on this, but I've tried a few and thought I'd ramble for a moment about the experiences of the different brands and preparations.

(Oh and by the way, I posted a new ukulele song on Youtube, if you like that sort of thing.

In general, there's an apparent perception of value with "oil on linen" paintings. I'm not entirely sure that's a great thing. But bowing to pressure, I started to try them about two years ago. I was concerned with linen's reputation for sagging or tearing, but after taking Jeremy Lipking's workshop and seeing that he was using linen mounted on gatorboard, decided to give it a go. The boards are lightweight, easy to stack and transport, will not sag or need restretching, and can be cut with a utility knife into new sizes.

Here are some random  observations (again, love to hear your input on this as well):

  • After some mucking about with different brands, I now only use the Claessens double lead-primed, portrait smooth panels. The lead surface tis very silky and non-absorbant and I generally prefer as smooth a surface as possible.  Other priming and texture weights are available.
  • One time a client was upset that the back of the panel had been scratched or something. He wanted to know why I would use a material like that, until it was pointed out that had the gatorboard not been present, there would have been a hole in the actual painting. 
  • Fredrix makes a linen panel which is a terrible, terrible, horrible thing. I have some left which need to be repurposed as drink coasters or something. The surface is very uneven. The quality looks like that of a regular canvas panel (cheap.) The priming is hard as a rock. 
  • My experiences with New Traditions and Signature Canvas have been equally good as far as both product and customer service are concerned. Signature does offer the 1/2" gatorboard for larger sized panels.
  • When you have a stack of unframed canvases, positioning them so they don't divot is tricky. It's really simple with these.
  • You can fit up to 3 of these bad boys on the canvas carrier part of a half box easel. Sweet.
  • It's not the sort of thing you get in a craft store. 
  • For the most part, I paint a thinned burnt sienna-ultramarine blue wash on these as soon as I get them, and use them eventually. 
  • They fit great in those snazzy plein aire frames.

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