Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guilt on 10-31-15

You can see that Guilt is coming along nicely. I have worked on it today and yesterday for about 9 or 10 hours total and I must say that I am exhausted and looking forward to a day away from the house tomorrow. It is very tedious work but I am really happy with what I have done so far. The canvas and the "good" paint I am using is such a treat. I generally work on canvas that is store-bought and nice, but not as nice as the elegant Belgium linen double oil primed canvas that I am using now. My usual paint is cheap! It is nice, and the colors are good, and it mixes pretty true, Soho from Jerry's Artarama, but for this painting I am using Winsor Newton, Rembrandt and a few Gamblin colors. There is a huge difference, especially in the drying times, as the Soho has been treated so it dries out very rapidly, and with these paints the drying times are vastly extended. Also, working over the burnt sienna toned ground gives the colors that are laid on top an optical mix that is very exciting, and nearly impossible to capture well in the camera.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Guilt (Work in Progress) 10-26-15

I am painting it now. I started with the light areas, but have graduated to filling in whatever is calling me next. It still feels very overwhelming! I keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time and one step at a time. I am finding that my small tablet is a huge asset in viewing details close up and it is easy to view the image in sections and segments. I can zoom in on a highlight, or shadow, and see it so much better than I can in viewing it in front of me, or in the printed photograph. The light in my studio seems to be shifting all the time and with the photograph and tablet the lighting is stable.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The "final" painting of Guilt begins

This week I started working on the actual painting, using thicker paint and as close to the actual colors that I see. I started with the drapery which was just scumbled over with white, and now I have put in the actual colors. Then I moved on to adding the darks in the bookcase and the black suitcase. The week was productive, but it is exhausting work, and the concentration level is very high. I find that I don't have the stamina I used to have! Well, yes, that's why I had to quit my job in order to focus on this painting. I must say that I am very pleased with the progress so far and this very pricey high end canvas is a dream to work on. It is Claessen's double oil primed linen! I also try to use higher end paint for these paintings, and the best I can afford is Rembrandt line made by Talens, which is the parent company of the best paint around, Old Holland. So, onward we go, and I hope to get a lot of work done this week. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a day off, so I will have the whole day to work on Guilt.

Friday, October 9, 2015

First layer of thin paint applied to Guilt

This first layer is very thin paint scumbled over the toned ground which shows through in many places. The lightest areas are painted white so the brighter colors go over white rather than burnt sienna. Those white areas will become pink, magenta, and whatever colors are in that variegated drapery in the center of the painting. I will let it dry for a few days before I start to work on it again next week.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Line Work Completed

I am kind of cramped into my studio and can't get very good photographs. My camera is mounted on a tripod and I'm clicking the shutter by a wireless remote. I didn't fiddle with the camera as much as I fiddled with the painting, so I'm apologizing for the dark and murky photos here.
I like to draw straight lines with a level. It is so much easier than trying to line up a ruler
I have my overlay attached to the canvas at the top with 4 C-clamps and I can pull it over when I need to check something. I am not positioned exactly in the same place as I was when I took my original photographs so looking at the setup is confusing because it is slightly off. I got the bright idea to put the large photo on my tablet and I can use that to see very close up details that I can't figure out by just looking at my big photo that I printed out. The tablet is great because it has that bright light inside and I can go very close up and really see what I'm trying to do. Instead of trying to print out pieces of the original photograph I can hold the small tablet in my hand, or put it on my work table and really understand what I am looking at. I like to get as accurate as possible, especially in this stage.
Line work is finished and I'm stopping for the day to do some other projects. More will be revealed!

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Guilt" the start

 The first thing I had to do was prepare an "overlay", which is a clear plastic film that has the image of the still life traced onto it. I did that a few days ago and a photo is posted on September 25th. The photo above shows me transferring that overlay to the canvas using a small piece of transfer paper and a stylus (my silverpoint tool which is a silver rod inserted into a mechanical pencil holder). It is very tedious work and bending over that way was not fun for my troubled back. The painting in the background is one that I just finished called "Fixing Supper".

I have moved the canvas to my easel and I'm getting ready to start to draw over the tracing with dark paint. You can see the still life set up in the background. It was very difficult to position myself in exactly the same spot that I was in when I took the original photo. And Miss Puss has some kind of weird affection for the drapery on the floor and she has pulled it all apart and this morning one of them was totally out of the suitcase and pushed almost back to the wall. So photo reference was totally necessary. In the end trying to see those faint tracing marks on the canvas was a challenge. You can barely see them in the photograph above. I finally decided to use my tablet as a reference and installed the original photo in its Gallery, and I could blow it up in pieces to see what I was doing. It was tedious work and after 5 hours I decided I needed to stop.

You can see my progress in this photograph where I was trying to establish a dark line to work against. I felt that I needed the overlay for reference and used clamps to attach it to the top of the canvas so I could flip it up and down whenever I needed a quick reference for something that didn't transfer or lines that I couldn't see. I'll finish the drawing tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bye, Bye Old Easel

this Julian French Easel (with an Italian maker on it) was a prize possession of mine that was purchased in Italy (I think it was in the City of Milan) on a grand tour in 1963. Mom and I had acquired a Mercedes from the factory and we picked it up in Switzerland. You could do that in those days, and get a nice car for much cheaper than buying it in the US especially if you used it for transportation around Europe. The plan was to ship the car back to the US on a freighter that would dock in New York or New Jersey sometime after we arrived home by air. I was on a buying spree all over Europe and I had a fantastic time getting some wonderful items, this easel was one of them. I used it too. All over the US on various trips, and on the boat we lived on as well. 
I am sitting beside the Snake River in Wyoming, outside of Jackson Hole, having a nice time with my easel and my painting! We were on one of our many criss-crossings of the US in our RV or car. 

The backstory of that grand trip ended with my mother becoming extremely ill in France as we were heading for the drop off of the car. I knew I had to get her home immediately. I had the easel, lots of other art supplies, and a set of pottery I had bought in Picasso's hometown of Valauris in southern France, in the trunk of the car as well as luggage and other flotsam and jetsam. I drove directly to the airport and went to the Pan Am ticket booth to get Mom on the next plane to New York. The manager of the ticket counter came to help me and the upshot of the whole thing was that he wouldn't let Mom go alone and he said he would drive our car to Le Havre himself and put it on the freighter. Mom was so sick we decided to take him up on the offer and with some misgivings about giving up all my goodies in the truck, perhaps never to be seen again, we boarded the next plane to JFK. We were met at the airport and Mom was driven to the hospital where she was treated for pneumonia and other bronchial problems. About a month later the car arrived with all the goodies intact in the trunk just as I left it. My father sent a commendation to Pan Am and evidently that lovely man was given a promotion.

The poor old easel started to fail some years ago and it was hard to set up, and the hardware was banged up and didn't work very well. In time I stopped using it, preferring other folding easels that were more flexible and easy to tote around. For the past 3 or 4 years the Julian has been on my outside porch which is open to the weather and it has suffered much in neglect and abandonment. It has taken me 2 years of weekly trash pickups to finally get the easel off to the landfill. It was a very sad day yesterday when the trash men picked up the Julian and put it in the truck, not to be seen again. Boo-hoo.