I went out to the porch this morning to sit in the sun and write in my journal. As I sat there writing, I was more and more inspired to start another Culvert St painting. Another one of the side of the hill and beyond in the back of the house where I live. So I wrote for about 20 minutes and then went for paper and paint.
I first did the drawing in pencil, trying to make marks that would later point to making sense with paint. I can’t really see these buildings on the side of the hill with a great deal of clarity because of the fringe of trees surrounding both sides of the brook, unseen and deep in the culvert below. The buildings are ‘fudged’ when I can’t understand what it is I’m seeing. The trees have to be in the painting because they’re a huge component of the scene.
When I felt that I’d done enough drawing, I got out the paint and a #8 brush and drew in the trees. The paint was very thin and a mix of what was already on the pallette. The trees I selected to ‘copy’ bear no relationship to each other in reality. I just put in whatever ‘treeness’ I need to make them work with the composition; took what I liked, left the rest.... When I was done with drawing the trees in paint I went over them with frisket. I’m still extolling the virtues (to me) of the wonderful Walnut drawing tool I’ve been learning how to use for this purpose.
I’ve actually never used a $14 dollar bottle of frisket more than I’ve used this present bottle. Usually, I use what I need for a particular painting I’m working on and then the rest dries up. I don’t like using frisket because it’s a good way to wreck a brush, even an old worn out brush that still has a few miles left to it. I’m liking the Walnut Drawing tool for spreading large amounts of frisket but within carefully drawn-out boundaries. Sometimes I use a bamboo pen, sometimes I use a bamboo knitting needle. I have yet to try toothpicks.... I like the wooden tools much better than a brush. They are much easier to keep clean of gunked-up frisket as all I need to do is wait for it to dry and then rub it out.
I’ve worked another hour plus on the background of this painting. For tone, I used UB and BS – a tried and true old standby for me. I started out with very light, pale, washes over each area of interest and reinforced those areas with more tone, more color until it all felt ‘right’ and until I was somewhat tired and losing interest.
I’ve discovered throughout the years that 45 minutes to an hour is enough of a session for me. At the end of the session I’m starting to think less about Art and more about Hunger, needing the jon, wanting to make a phone call, needing to feed the cat, realizing my arms are starting to feel the sun in a painful way.... That’s a good time to quit, take a photograph, attend to things of the ‘real’ world and leave the painting around to look at as I attend to those other things.
What I’m going to decide as I do those other things is whether or not I’m going to continue working up the background some more or maybe it’s time to rub out the masking, erase the graphite and then plan how I’m going to work on the trees.
For now, it’s lunch-time and I’m hungry.
(To be continued....)
I worked on this painting off and on all afternoon & finally finished it an hour ago. I'm pleased with it.
Here it is with the frisket removed and a after lot of erasure.
And here it is in as finished a state as it will ever be.
Culvert St., Easter Morning '10