My studio, towards the left
My studio, towards the right
I am now installed at the School of Visual Arts Summer Residency program and have started painting. My wife is very clear on this: I will be painting. I will be in the studio. In fact she doesn't care if I don't come home for the next month.
Already I love having the space and not having to worry about what I spill on the floor. I primed a 30- by 40-inch panel and it was the easiest prep I've ever done thanks to being able to get all around the panel and slop gesso over the floor if need be. I also bought a cheap crockpot to keep the gesso warm, and that helped a lot.
But I did forget to mention a couple of paintings I did at home before I moved in to SVA.
This one got away from me. I intended it to be more of an outline painting, like the previous ones I'd done on panel, but somehow it wouldn't let me stop there, so I ended up modeling the figure some. I can't explain it -- the skin tone I put down just looked too flat.
The same thing happened with this next one, too. I started by painting an outline in Burnt Sienna and was just going to fill in flat colors and then...I don't know. Again, the skin tone I mixed looked too flat to me. Note that she's more tan than many of my figures -- I bought a tube of Gamblin Raw Sienna to pull my skin tones to a more golden color.
Another thing I did on this painting which worked very well for me was this: I coated the panel with linseed oil before I started painting. I've found traditional gesso to be far more absorbent than I'd like: I want to be able to paint flowing lines -- like I would with ink on paper -- but the gesso, as smooth as it was, wouldn't let me. It'd just suck up all the paint almost immediately and my brush would peter out. Gamblin suggests rubbing linseed oil over the panel to give the gesso something to soak up before you start painting. I never bought linseed oil, but my uncle recently gave me the remains of his oil painting kit from when he tried painting a few years back. There was an elderly bottle of linseed oil in the kit, so I was able to use it.
Coating the panel with oil made it exactly the kind of surface I wanted it to be: Smooth and easy to paint on. Hopefully my paintings won't fall right off the panel a hundred years from now.
Now onto SVA. So far I'm having a great time. Last night I met with Greg Coates, who I'd met last year when I went to the SVA open studios to see Jim Wolanin, and we had a great conversation. The other artists in the program are good people. And Thursday Jerry Saltz gave a really entertaining lecture in which he repeatedly called us "my loves, my prophets, my pilgrims."
I got moved in a little on the late side -- I didn't drive in until Thursday and damn, what a mess that was -- but once I was moved in I started immediately.
I had two panels left from the initial 12 I'd had cut for me and I jumped on one of them while putting gesso down on the big panel I'd bought. I ended up with a toned panel after I wiped off my first pass at this image. Then I put down the curves for this in Burnt Sienna, which I've been avoiding because it's so red. One of the other artists -- I haven't learned everyone's name yet -- wandered by and suggested I leave it just like this. I sat down across the way from my studio and considered.
I just couldn't leave it. I don't know why. I wanted some golden skin tone on this one. I've been seeing more and more -- maybe because more people are getting tans -- a warm yellow undertone in the skin around me, and I wanted to get near that. Gamblin's Transparent Earth Orange has a beautiful yellow undertone, so I used that and wiped the panel down afterward. Then I mixed a middletone of Transparent Earth Orange and various other transparent colors -- Gamblin Indian Yellow and Gamblin Transparent Earth Yellow, I think. A few different things. I did very little modeling, but a bit, blending with a dry brush.
Speaking of brushes, I picked up two brushes I'm totally in love with: First I found a brush called by Daler-Rowney, anyway, an egbert. It's a filbert with long hairs and it's exactly what I need for my line work. And second I bought a synthetic squirrel filbert I couldn't resist and which I can't remember the make of right now. I'm just obsessed with filberts right now.
Finally I went back over my Burnt Sienna lines with a darker color mixed from, well, a lot of what was on my palette at the time. And some Ultramarine Blue, I think. Oh, and I did the lips in a mix of Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson, and some more of whatever was on my palette.
Then I felt the need to customize my studio a bit more, so I pulled out the ole vine charcoal and scribbled on the wall. That rectangular thing hanging there is the result of Secret Project #1, and most of the people who've walked by have stopped to ask me about it. That it ended up being the navel of my charcoal drawing was entirely unintentional.
Open Studios for our session is set for Thursday, June 28, 2007. Feel free to come by. You're all invited!