Monday, January 25, 2010
Study, CS 012310
I did this small (6"x9") painting this past Friday morning, looking out on the street from my dining room window. I had a time limit, 2 hours. What I wanted to accomplish with this study was to work from nothing to a concept for a painting in that time. I also wanted to try out a masking solution. I don’t ordinarily take frisket with me when I’m painting outside because it usually takes too much time to apply and then let dry. But, since I’m painting from the comfort of home (as if I were outdoors...) and have easy access to a hair dryer, I decided to give the frisket a try and think about whether or not I want to add it to the bag of things I take with me when painting outside. While looking for a brush or some kind of tool to use to apply the frisket after I did the initial drawing I thought of a tool I’d bought years ago and barely tried, never used. I had to look in a few stash-spots to find it. According to a label on the barrel, it’s a Walnut Drawing Stick and is made by Tom Norton Designs, Cambridge, MA. It was a splurge-purchase; I’ve had it for many years. It appealed to me initially because of the chisel pointed end. I think I intended using it for some kind of Calligraphy project.
Apparently it’s made of walnut and has a chisel tip with a fine slit from the tip up the center to a tiny tiny hole carved into the nib and the whole thing carved out of a length of walnut. On the other end of the tool, similar in size as the nib, a soft pointed tool made out of what appears to me to be the kind of heavy felt used in regards to piano keys. I imagine the tool on the other end is used for pushing paint, wiping, smudging...? A myriad of uses, create your own...? The chisel tipped calligraphy-type nib was WONDERFUL for applying liquid frisket. The tool made the experience much more direct and easier to use and clean up after than a brush. Plus, the friskit didn’t wreck the wood, as frisket will permanently mess up a brush, even after soaping up the head of the brush, close to the ferrule, with soap. The frisket wiped off the wooden nib, leaving no traces or damage. I actually enjoyed planning the branches and making the calligraphy of the masked areas of the tree limb in the painting. I was aware that the possibilities for this tool are endless.
I decided to divide the spaces of my painting this way:
The tree limb
Shadows on the road in GGB and added UB
Cadmium Yellow tinted wash in the sky area with the most yellow pooling-up at the tree line. CY on the lightest part of the house and porch in the foreground.
Tree line in GGB with AC added where the trees meet sky
The farthest house washed in with light application of GGB. The lawn between the two houses was done with pure Burnt Sienna in the light and with a little added GGB in the dark.
I used very light/transparent washes in the initial washes as the basis for subsequent layers of added paint. I wanted to get down, on paper and in memory, as much of the scene as possible before the moving sun changed the shadows and also wanted the paper to be covered with a thin skin of paint and yet be slightly damp for further work.
Because the light of the sky is important to the painting, that’s what I started with. The day was cold and so was the blue. The sky was very blue, but not perfectly clear or vivid. The yellow tint I put down before painting the sky gave the area a bluish, subdued, opaque blue, which is how I saw the sky that morning. I also saw the shadows as being deeply blue and since they were the stars of the show, emphasized the shape with as much blue as I could stand. I think that they’re waaaay too blue, but for purposes of studying them and using them in a painting, I’m very pleased. I know what I’d do differently ‘next time.’ I also cleaned up and re-enforced some of the detail in the painting – windows, chimney, shadows....
When I was satisfied I’d done all I wanted to do with the painting I let it dry, then rubbed off the frisket and got to work on the branches. For some of the finer branches I used a Pink Pearl to rub off the masking, the widest part I rubbed off with my finger. Then I added the branches using a pre-mixed dark, medium and light made of GGB and Burnt Sienna. I applied it rather heavily in some spots, very lightly in others, hoping to give the sense of movement, undulation, blowing in the wind....
I can see where I could change or ‘fix’ this painting, but have decided to leave it, for now. The foreground shadow is too blue, needs to be dulled down and blend with the road. The middle ground shadow needs more color. The road needs to be a lighter color and tone.