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Catching up …. again!

Catching up… again!

It seems this is what I do these days – play catch up on so many aspects of my life. But tis ok, it’s a good thing to have “aspects” right?

I have been out of play again from the studio, sidelined by a little medical thing, another bout of radiation to deal with some sneaky little cancer-y stuff that escaped the cage. The good news is that the radiation, after just 7 treatments, is shrinking those nasty bits to nada! I can already feel relief, which for me means increased feeling in my left arm, decreased swelling as well, and a chance to get off the steroids that I have been taking for pain.

And of course, all those things mean less time before I can get back to painting. YAY!

Which brings me to this post.

Before being sidelined I actually was making progress on “Bigfoot,” which is what I affectionately call my beach chair painting of my friend, Pam. And I had saved up some awesome in-progress photos to tell the tale step-by-step, with pithy comments about how I made the decision for that color and this color and why that brushstroke was angled so and why I used tape to get a straight line and yada yada yada.

Ain’t happening folks.

Why? Well for lots of reasons, but some of it is just that after so long I just don’t remember all those things! My poor brain is not only 60 years old but it has been made to mush by a wide variety of chemicals and medications – some of which I voluntarily (and happily) ingested myself back in the day, and some that have been prescribed over the years by actually medical doctors.

Then I had an idea! I could just post all the progress pictures, in random order, numbering them, and see how many of you could come up with the correct order! I could give away another print (except that I haven’t mailed Dan’s to him yet – sorry Dan, been a little busy) or three and see what happens! Make it fun! Make it interactive!

Never mind.

So what I’m going to do is post them here – IN ORDER – for you to see, probably over the next two posts, and if I can remember what caused me to make a certain decision, or add in any way to your experience of just seeing the progress of the work itself, I will write.

If there’s a blank on the page under the image, well there is a corresponding blank in the file folder in my brain that used to hold that info. It’s been emptied and/or erased, depending upon whether you prefer a digital or analog image of my poor, drug-addled grey-matter.

So here goes – first , a recap – here’s where we were when we left our precious beauty:

Oh, right, the “hand job.” Ok, well that was an unfortunate choice of titles, BUT, in my defense, it was accurate.

So here it was, as far as I’d gotten back in what? January? February? when? Oh dang, not that long ago actually, in April.

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Just a teensy little bit of structure going into that hand, and a dot where a ring might go. Not a bad start.

And then, the next time I entered the studio, this is what I accomplished:

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Oh wait – that’s a nice little shot of the studio – clicked the wrong image, but I think I’ll leave it there.

Back to the paintings:

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The hand has gotten more human-like, I’ll give it that. Having a little trouble with the ring here as it is really difficult to see in the source photos, but I’ll make it work. (Or I’ll have Pam send it to me to paint from… hahahaha NOT!)

NEXT!

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LOTS of work on legs, arms, foot.

Look here! A mini-lesson!

This is the ever-so-important stage where you have to stand back and look at everything that is connected. You’ve undoubtedly painted everything at different times, and you CANNOT (no, sorry) CANNOT ever match perfectly the paint mix you used before unless you’ve saved it in a jar or tube (which I do for backgrounds, actually).

So this is where your critical eye comes into play. Stand back, and in your mind’s eye reconnect every part of the painting to it’s neighbor. You’ll see what to do.

Sometimes you have to change some colors, or add some warmth or light, or just clean up edges. But unless you want your painting to look like a cut-paper collage, this is one of the most important days you’ll have with your work. Pulling it together.

(Hmmmm, some brain cells have survived. Interesting.)

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Here I’ve moved over to the left side where the tones are much cooler. Working to add reflected light (see that gorgeous bit of pale violet under her arm? That’s reflected light from the ground and chair straps).

OK, end of that day. Got a lot done I see! I really wanted to finish this painting before my studio mate got back from her trip to Europe, and guess what – she’s back. I failed. Sorry Taryn. But you got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower so what do you care?)

Next day:

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This was the day I decided to start making decisions about the background and treatment of the chair, and this actually shows quite a bit of progress, so I may be out of order.

A fun story from the studio:

Taryn (Alessandro, my talented and lovely “landlady” – you can see her work here: http://www.tarynalessandro.com ) and I had just placed big orders to Dick Blick, and were excitedly sharing paints and colors and squeals of “wow would you look at that color!” when she saw a bit of a light grey violet I had on the palette – and she decided right there and then that it HAD to be my background color for the sky.

Hey, who am I to argue?

So that’s what it is. I haven’t been to the studio in a while but when I go back I’ll come back and give you the name and brand. It’s a gorgeous color!!

And do you know what the absolute coolest thing about using that color for the background is?

I don’t have to mix it, save it, and wonder if the mix will “hold” when it gets on the canvas.

Here’s a short little lesson on mixing paints, both brands and colors

Different manufacturers use different pigments and different oils and binders and different ratios of oil to pigment. That’s why you might say a Windsor & Newton ultramarine blue is “dryer” than a Gamblin, for example. Or why Daniel Green’s sap is very very oily, in fact so oily that when you squeeze it from the tube all the unincorporated oil makes a huge big puddle-y mess of your palette and shouldn’t that oil be back in the tube with the pigment? Not that I care.

I don’t buy one brand of paint. I would (and I would buy Gamblin) but I use a LOT of paint and I just can’t afford to ignore a great sale on a decent brand of paint.

So inevitably, I am going to be mixing brands. I try not to on my huge backgrounds, but even if I am using a single brand of two or three colors, chances are there is going to be a difference in the amount of oil used to bind each color.

If the two or three colors of paint aren’t thoroughly mixed with each other, and all the oil incorporated into the pigments evenly, you’re going to have sections of the painting that are shiny (the oil is sitting on top of the canvas) and sections that are flat (the oil has sunken in).

Now, if you are going to heavily glaze, varnish, or pour resin over a painting this isn’t a problem. But if you just want a protective layer of glaze, which is what I’ve been doing lately, you have to combat it.

I first found this little video tutorial at Gamblin’s website, but now they’ve moved their how-to videos to YouTube, so you can search for Gamblin and get them all. Here’s the one I watched, after writing to them and asking them what I should do. They call this phenomenon, “oiling out.”

http://youtu.be/PvY_rl1dmkU

It did work for me but I love the idea of not having to worry about it with this painting. THANKS TARYN!!!!

And, now on to what could be the finishing stretch if I were actually in the studio instead of sitting here on my bed looking longingly at pictures of it.

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Lots of finishing tweaks to the face, eyes, hair, ears, glasses, nose, forehead shadows, hat, neck, etc. etc. Not finished, but better. Taking shape. Sorry about the glare.

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Quite a bit of work here on the “yoga toes” – those plastic things you put between your toes to get a better grip when doing downward dog (I guess). And the bottom of the foot.

Oh how excited I am about the bottom of that foot! I am so so proud of it. Yes even I stand back sometimes and think, “wow,” I did that. This was one of those instances where it just flowed from me. Love it.

Oh, and the chair straps as well. Wow, I worked fast that day.

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Close-up of yoga toes, and people toes, which I also finished adding to that day.

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Worked  bit on the bathing suit, and really worked on the chair straps, and added the weighty shadows under the leg and foot. Basically folks, I tweaked everything!

And here is where I ended up. I’m really  looking forward to getting’ her done!

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Hmm, it seems more than a few brain cells have survived. I’ve impressed myself. Even threw a couple of mini-lessons in there for some added “meaty” content. Not bad.

Aaaaaaaaand I’m out of brain energy. Hope you enjoy – ask questions if you want, I’ll reply when I can.

 

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