Here’s the final blog sharing the in-process, behind-the-scenes new direction we’re experimenting with for Museum Anatomy. For those not familiar with the history of Museum Anatomy, it’s a project that Chadwick and I have been creating since 1996. It’s continued to evolve, and over the past year has become very experimental once again. Change is good. We’re thrilled with the way the new work is turning out and are currently well into working on our second piece. Tad Spurgeon has been an incredible help, support system and mentor of painting while working on these new pieces. He has our eternal gratitude and for any painters out there reading this, I highly recommend checking out his website and his book, LIVING CRAFT. And now, for the rest of the story:
November 7, 2013
Thank you for the encouragement! I totally understand about the darks. I’m looking forward to darkening the sky and the details sometime this week – maybe Friday. I can’t seem to get a good break from running around town.
As far as the red – especially on her dress, is is unfortunately too orange. You asked for my red list, I have:
Alizarin Permanent, Transparent Earth Red, Quinacridone Red. I’m sure I have a Cadmium as well. They’re all Gamblin. If you have any recommendations for other reds I should get, I’ll have time to pick up a tube or two tomorrow.
I suppose I’ll need to darken the blackest areas (with black? Ultramarine Blue?), then glaze over with Alizarin…That’s my guess anyhow. Feel free to let me know if I’m on the wrong track.
Chadwick and I did more casting on Sunday. We did 2 of his head, one forward (with teeth!), and one side…the ear broke, but we have the parts to put it back together. Ears are the hardest part to preserve because of the delicate undercuts. I think we’re going to start casting in a stone material, then fill it in with expandable foam…experiments…
BTW, mouth casting is seriously disgusting…I won’t go into detail, I’ll just say, he was breathing through a paper tube. I’m sure you’ll get the picture. 😉
Please send a photo of your latest painting!
Hope all is well. I hope you are also happy with the outcome of the election…Afterall, you are living in a blue state. 😉
November 8, 2013
Dear Laura —
Yes, I’m happy with the election…
The photos of your process are amazing and scary! Wow. But casting is giving you some very personalized panels!
Permanent alizarin should be anthraquinone, which is quite a cold crimson, the tail light and traffic light pigment. This can be cut with quinacradone rose, which is like the rosy part of rose madder, the process red, very versatile mixing colour. You do need that red to go colder. If need be, a very thin layer of cadmium red dark, which is opaque, and on the cold side, can go on, followed by a cold red, but this is only as a last resort.
As long as the palette works for you, it works. You will be able to go faster with the painting as you do more of them, a system will make itself based on your experience with the process.
Sure, feel free to do whatever you want with anything I’ve sent. When you have something up, I can link to it and send people there.
Good luck today, hope it all comes out great, you are at the point with it where it is going to just get better and better.
November 8, 2012
I hope you’re well. I just wanted to share some cool stuff with you…
I just downloaded some old photos off of my camera.
BTW, they’re from a a few different sittings over the past several weeks – just in case you look at them and wonder why I’m going backwards!
It’s also a good view of my set up. Though, the lighting looks really terrible – I usually paint during the day w/ a few clamp lights.
You’ll also see my palette set up (with your oil in it!)…I’m probably doing my palette set up all wrong…now’s a good time to see what I’m doing and send any suggestions my way…
I’ve never been good at/taught the ‘ole “lay out the palette correctly” thing… I suppose there is a method to my madness in that photo – transparent colors separated from
opaques, earth colors separated, and various blues (in case I need to whip up a green)…I dunno, it somehow makes sense to my cluttered brain. I always have a tiny “puddle” of oil on the palette
just in case…
I bought one of those fancy magnifying lights on an arm (I’ve wanted one forever – finally found one at Michael’s for $19, less 40%!)…I’m going to get that thing rigged and in place before I start with details…
Such an *uptight* painting – It’s a good thing I can work on it simultaneous to casting the body – which is a total slop-fest!
It was suggested to me at some point that I should organize all of these in-process photos along with our emails back and forth (since last December…) to show a complete picture of how this piece came to be. I think that’s a pretty cool idea. What do you think? I certainly wouldn’t share any of your emails if you didn’t want me to. But, I certainly will be mentioning you as an enormous source of knowledge and support.
This process rocks! I’m so excited! Tomorrow, I have the whole day to paint…more red, darken the sky and start adding some details…
November 10, 2012
I got to the art store today to pick up some new reds. I got the new Alizarin Crimson – which is different from Alizarin Permanent. And, Quinicrodone Red, which I remember was “Rose” from Windsor Newton. I checked and the chemical makeup is the same – whatever mineral (Fake or real), PY 19 refers to…
Check out the brushes I found! I’ve been having the problem with angle of brushes behind the sculpture, making it impossible to get paint back there. I tried to bend a brush and snapped the ferrule. I was just figuring how how to tape the brush tip to a stick or something…then found a bent brush! I’m so thrilled. (It’s kind of stupid, I know…but, may make all the difference in hours spent trying to contort myself and a brush to get behind the crevices). I’ll let you know if it works. I also found a dagger stripper…not sure what it’s formally supposed to do yet, but I have some ideas for it.
Do you have any favorite brushes you work with? I’m newly addicted to filberts…any kind of filbert brushes..they make the worst mistakes look beautifully fleshed out. Do you use fan brushes on your landscapes? I’ve never used one…then again, I’ve never painted a landscape.
THEN….I found something that looked like it could either be (a) a shortcut, or (b) something that you’ll see and shake your head at. 😉
I purchased Gamblin Cold Wax Medium. It’s basically beeswax mixed with Odorless Mineral Spirits. What kind of spirits? No idea. But, I read the label and it’s recommended as a final layer after glazing to bring down the gloss to matte while leaving transparency in the glazes.
It was cheap enough, that if you tell me, “Please don’t use that crap on your painting”, then I won’t use it. I just thought it would be an interesting experiment to see what happens. Are you familiar with this stuff?
Pics attached. Unfortunately, my iPad refuses to photograph small print, or I’d send a photo of the label.
Please send pics of what you’re up to. By the way, what are you taking classes for? You mentioned going to class in your last email….
BTW, is the Quinicrodone Red (rose), the same color you used in your watermelon? I’m still mesmerized by that color.
Nov 11, 2012
Dear Laura —
It looks like the Permanent Alizarin will be colder than the Alizarin. You can add a little Quinacradone to make it rosier if need be. Here is the pigment you like:
The actual pigment name is PR264 Pyrol Ruby. The Blick site has very complete info about the paint in those tabs, very helpful.
The pigment technology was originally centered in Germany. They are also incapable of making anything lower quality. The Schmincke Norma paints are nice, not too expensive, but they use better quality pigments. Another company I like is Blockx, less expensive than Old Holland and less confusing, fewer tubes. The Blockx color is Red Lake, PR 254, a lighter version, but an incredible red as well. This is the thing about Blockx, the pigments are perfect. I’m not saying Gamblin isn’t okay, but, doing what you’re doing, you’ll notice the difference, and you’re using mass quantities of labor, not paint.
A site with more info about pigments than you’ll ever want, this is just the reds:
But it can be helpful in finding out what something really is.
Yes, filberts are lots of fun after rounds, more forgiving. I’m doing a lot now with Princeton 8200 white synthetic. When they are new, they do a lot of expressive things, really well made tip. I tend to use them with thicker paint and mess them up, but even so, I like them. Another thing I like is to cut down an old bristle round at the ferrule, making a small brush with long bristles. These are nice for details with thick paint. The dagger striper was originally for signs or cars, will make a very long thin line.
The Gamblin cold wax is fine. You can rub it on thinly at the end. The problem — not a criticism, there is always a problem 🙂 — is that it is soft, and you are in a hot place, so it will basically get very soft in the summer unless the painting is in a controlled environment. The softness also means it will attract dirt. Being wax, this is easy to get rid of, wipe it with gamsol. But, you can also use it to make the oil flatter or more matte, as a final coat. This would require a little testing. Don’t worry about the excess shine, too much is better than “dead as a doornail,” wherever that expression came from, can always be made matte, yet will glow from within…
Best from an almost sunny day!
November 11, 2012
Thanks for the websites. I’m amazed with the artistcreation site…It’s like stumbling across the Rosetta Stone… A Holy site on the Internet…who knew?! 😉 I plan on spending a lot of time on that site. Do you already know about http://www.paintmaking.com? That has always been one of my favorite resources.
I think you’re right about the Schmincke paints (And I’ll check into Blockx)..I need a paint overhaul for the next works. I’ll probably use the remaining Gamblin that I have, then move into those other two companies. It’s all such an investment!
I have to say, purchasing online may be very convenient, but I miss opening the tubes of paint and smelling them….What can I say? True story – when I was in Thailand, Chadwick and I were commissioned to build a miniature golf course with 250+ meters of mural space. I painted it all in acrylic paint and by the end of the process (12-14 hour days/6 days a week for 6 months!), I knew each color by their smell. My most random human trick.
As far as the Cold Wax Medium, I was thinking to use it only as a final process to “seal” the painting as the last layer when all is dry. I am having loads of problems keeping the dust and CAT HAIR off the surface of the painting. It’s not an easy task. I got a can of air, it helped a tiny bit. I actually took artist’s paper tape and taped the surface to try and get rid of the hair. It helped, but I still have some unfortunate fuzzy bits. So frustrating! I really need a dedicated studio without a long-haired Persian cat fluffing about.
I really like your paintings! I can see some of the goopiness you’re talking about…they look very lush and shiny…lots of light and motion. What are you using to get that “water-like” quality in the paint – is that the putty? Will they remain that glossy? The colors in the third one are radiant – I wish I could see it in person.
November 13, 2013
I just downloaded these pictures from my camera. They are one glaze behind where I really am. The red is now cooler and the lamb is brighter. I want to work on the flesh color before I photograph again.
Not sure how to darken the sky. Any suggestions? What I’m copying looks almost like raw umber or something that dark, plus yellow…could just be age/damage.
Hope you’re well!
November 13, 2012
Dear Laura —
Thanks for those bigger pictures, great sense of detail, I wasn’t sure how much paint was on it, literally. What amazing detail the cast has, wow. You are working thinly, this is very good 🙂
I’ve got all your process photos but send me the reference again and I can suggest something for the sky. If you make a gray based on ultramarine, it will probably be accurate. But maybe you haven’t used ultramarine, if so use the blue you made the green with. Then darken that. I don’t know, the sky may have been made with indigo, which is fugitive, often bleaches. So, a question of guessing at the original, which may look better, or going with what exists now. You can darken pretty much all the lightest spots on the painting slightly, veil them with thin colours that have a little lead white in them.
The look of those paintings has to do with two things. The first is my pet theory — warning, pet theory! — that older painters used a lot of thicker oil. So, the putty is made with the type of oil I sent you that you are now using for glazing. This means that the paint is denser, pigment held in suspension, it all glows more.
The other thing with those paintings is the “aqueous additions” part. This is based on Rembrandt using egg white, starch, etc. to make the paint tighten or seize. You don’t need to get into this with this painting, wrong era and the scale of the paint needs to be bigger, but you might like to fool around with this at some point. The aqueous additions are used in very very small amounts, they make the putty seize, kind of like mashed potatoes, then you add a little more oil and you have something that flows, but with body. I’m just doing various alla prima experiments with the proportions, it’s a simple system in terms of the ingredients but different proportions make very different paint.
I hope you’re doing we’ll. is it cold where you are already? It’s still warm here and I’m missing the leaves changing color and any prospects for snow.
I finished the second layer of glaze. It’s tricky, like a puzzle. I’m not worrying to much about details yet.
I’ve read a lot about switching back and forth between cool and warm glaze layers. This was my cool layer. When this dries, I’ll bring her dress to red and sort out the other colors.
It’s very warm, rich and vibrant so far.
When should I start using the walnut oil? Or, should I use it at all?
It’s very difficult to photograph. It looks better in person, as most paintings do.
BTW, the Lucien Freud exhibit was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Paintings from 1940-2011. Just sublime. I’m a huge fan.
Also, I stopped by The Kimball Museum, and they had a special 40th anniversary show. You’ll appreciate this….it was curated by date of acquisition. Seriously. So there were Buddhas next to Miro’s next to Carravaggios…and so on and so forth. It was the weirdest show I’ve ever seen. I kind of liked it in a non-conformist sort of way.
I feel like writing the curator to do Museum Anatomy with art in their storage facilities, but instead of asking to work with pre19th century art, i want to ask to work with paintings acquired between 1975-1983. 😉
Please point out any mistakes I’m making.
Dear Laura —
Sorry to be late, this last week was very odd, I think I knew there was a storm brewing or something, very hard to focus. We are just on the edge of the storm now, and will probably not get much beyond a lot of rain and wind, but the sky is a little relentless looking for being so pink 🙂
Thanks very much for the casting photos, what a wild process. That cast is huge. That is great about the Freud technique, great to be so directly inspired by someone’s work, yet have the means to transform it. There are any number of techniques that have evolved from “middle aged” paint. I write with someone in Australia who makes specific pieces of paint for paintings on a glass plate, then lifts or cuts them them off and places them in wet paint. It’s kind of like cloisonné. I can’t imagine being that organized but maybe you don’t have to be since the pieces can be cut to the shape needed.
The eyeball inserts begin to get into that 19th c. automaton or ventriloquist dummy territory. That little museum I used to work at had a large collection of old toys, some of which were really creepy, that John Lennon maniacal fake smile.
Well, you know, it’s not do or die with the final layer. It’s good to try to make it the final layer, just from the point of view of production, closure, but you can always go on. There may be details you can do on the second day, when the paint is tighter, and even finer stuff you can do when it is almost dry. Also, if anything gets too dense or goopy it can be sanded back. This can be done with actual sandpaper, or with marble dust and oil on a rag for tricky places.
Hope things are cooling off a little, hard to imagine 95 right now but my brother used to live in San Antonio so I know Texas is different!
I hope you made it through Sandy without damage. NYC certainly has seen better days. I still have friends without power. I would have loved to have seen Times Square without power – I bet that is/was a very interesting experience!
Now, back on track. When I went to my painting this morning, I noticed it was living mainly in Blue and Yellow. Today, was the day for Reds. I have darkened the figures, stepping down a couple of values like you suggested. I actually think I could go darker, but I want to wait to see what it looks like with fresh eyes.
The sky has pink in it, and the lamb has been darkened a bit more. Today, I felt a bit more confident making things dark and playing around with more colors. I am now able to conceptualize what will happen when I put on the final layers of highlights. I’m pretty excited about it.
I was also able to fill in any “noise” on the plaster – the tiny holes that had escaped me the past few painting sessions, were a lot more obvious with fresh eyes and I was able to cover and integrate them into the painting.
The reds on her robe aren’t as rich as I’d like them to be, nor are the dark folds in the fabric as dark as I want them to be. I’ve been taking your advice to keep everything light. When do you think it would be appropriate to start going really dark, or putting in the dark details?
I’m interested to hear your thoughts and recommendations.
I hope your paintings are going well. Please forward photos! I’m always interested to see your process and what you’re up to.
November 3, 2012
Dear Laura —
Yes, it was a really weird week here. Like stepping up only there was no step. We got very little from Sandy, even less than advertised, Tuesday was warm and sunny, eerie. I spent time as a kid on the Jersey Shore, all those places have been clobbered. I agree about this moon, it has been vengeful!
Fresh eyes are very helpful, I can’t believe the stuff I see in the morning after trying to finish something the day before. Duh! But there was no way to see it at 5 pm the day before.
It looks really good. And you have been really patient about the darks. But you see why, yes? They have to be approached incrementally or they will lock up, get too dark. We see this a lot in older painting, so are used it it as a look, but it isn’t necessarily “good painting” since it eliminates options. It can be fixed, but it is a pain even with titanium because the key of the colour gets so messed up. So, go ahead and make things darker, but you can also start adding various colours using white to the lighter areas. The details are often easier to make the second day, when the paint is sticky or tarry.
What red are you using for this? It is hard to tell from the photo if it is that much on the orange side. You might go with a more crimson red next time, this would be pyrol or anthraquinone or even quinacradone red. Maybe tell me what you have in the red department, and what brand of paint is easy for you to get.
I actually did something I liked this week in spite of everything, I’ll send you a photo when it’s dry enough to take one.
You have done amazingly well with this. There is a lot of complexity, as I’m sure you know better than anyone, and this is why I sort of emphasized rules, going slowly. It will not have to be this way as you go, it just seemed really important not to have to go backwards with a “panel” that had so much work in it already.
November 17, 2012
I’m attaching the original pic of the painting. (It’s hard to find a good image of it on the Internet). I’ve noticed there are now images of the painting that suggest there are 6 specific points on the paintings where experts determined it was a real Da Vinci. I need to find out what those are! Anyhow, if you have a moment, I’d love to pick your brain as to how you think he achieved the sky – or, if it’s simply a matter that the paint/oil is old and needs to be cleaned…
My time hasn’t been my own over the past week. I’m finally planning on sitting down and facing the painting today. I need to lighten skin tones…I saw some reference pictures and know I need to really brighten their faces.
F1 is in Austin this weekend. There’s a lot of very tall, slender, well-dressed Europeans wandering throughout the streets. They look totally out of place in this very grunge/fraternity preppy city. I kind of like it. I wish they’d stay. The economy would be much better and I might be able to stay. 😉 Since that’s not happening, it looks like Houston will be happening in about 6 weeks. Another
move – I can no longer keep count…last time I did, it was in the mid-30’s…certainly more than that now. I’m starting to feel a bit like a hobo, or a Bob Dylan song.
I also included the “6” points – if you know what they are – please let me know. BTW, I tend to think the colors in the second image may be closer to the real painting…if thats the case, I need to darken the clothing and lighten the skin. The sky is still perplexing…dark gold blue??
November 20, 2012
Dear Laura —
Sorry to be late, I’ve been buried with nuts and bolts questions. All fine, but it takes a while to get through them!
I don’t know what the numbers are about in that image, geeky microscopic stuff probably. I can see it being by a very young Leonardo, where I see him is in the articulation of her hand.
It looks like the blue is indigo, which has both faded and turned green. For the sky you can start with Prussian Blue for this and make it greener with burnt sienna. I know, but it works. The tricky part with this is the smoothness of the highlights, there’s not much there except the dirt of time. So this is another thing you could do, put a layer of “old varnish” on it at the end by a yellow-brown glaze. Her red is pretty dull but less orange, you might add a tiny amount of Prussian to Permanent Alizarin to get something duller yet still transparent. I think once you have the next layer on you will have turned the corner. Don’t worry too much about the real painting, it probably bears little resemblance to what he painted at this point anyway, not only the colours, but the flower was opaque, etc. So, my .02 is to just make it look good your way. But I agree, the bigger image looks right, the little one looks pumped up…
December 5, 2012
Thank you very much for your last email. I’ve yet to try the color combinations, but am looking forward to testing them out…Prussian Blue with Burnt Sienna (I think? I have to look back again), sounds funky, but I think I get it.
You were right when you said after the next layer I will have turned a corner…The painting somehow at some point took on a life of it’s own. I feel as though I’m at this point where I’m tinkering with it to refine delicate lines and very specific highlights. The surface of the painting is gorgeous…really gorgeous…I dare say I like the surface of the painting better than the painting itself?… There’s something about it that glows, is magical, has tremendous depth that shimmers and contains movement…it’s quite unreal that I actually did this (with a LOT of help from you!). Today, I fine-tuned her veil and think it’s the first part of the painting I’m deeming finished and promised myself that I wouldn’t mess with it anymore…I can easily see how this could go into infinity with it being “unfinished” for years…;)
We ordered the boards for the back of the next 4 pieces. Beautiful wood…I forgot the name of the wood, it’s not something that I’ve heard of before. We’ll work one at a time and take our time to do it right. We haven’t chosen our second image yet, but know it will be a solo figure. I need to give these complex scenes a rest…and focus on one figure. The next one will be a much larger size – about 4-5 times larger than what I’m working with now. And, we’ll be priming the board and the cast at the same time with one gesso.
I’ve given my notice at work and will be going to CO for the holidays. Then, when I return, I’ll be directly moving to Houston. I figure I have about 1 week left to actually finish this piece…I hope I can do it. And, I think the oil you sent will just be enough for this one…It’s like this magical potion that I very carefully use a dropper bottle to dispense into the paints…;)
If you’re interested, I would love to share the second painting process with you. If I’m able, I’m going to upgrade my paints as well to one of the brands you’ve previously suggested.
I’m attaching some images from today (not the best photos – sorry!).
This is so exciting!
December 5, 2012
Dear Laura —
I was just wondering about you. The photos look fine, I can see the deeper red and detail. I’m glad the most recent layer was fun, you set it up really well, this is the key. From now on you will be cakewalking into town. I’m glad that the oil is giving you the right look. Just slightly thick has always been the right consistency for straight paint: it dries with a gloss, but you can paint over it, and the paint has depth, doesn’t dry down. I am happy to send you more, whenever.
Yes, finish it at the level you feel comfortable with now and move on to the next one. You can always tweak it again in six months, just before the big show. But, seriously, that’s a nice way to work: let it rest until, when you look at it, you see exactly what to do, working on it again would be fun, no effort.
I’d of course be very happy to talk to you about the next one, this has been a real treat for me. You may not feel organized but, believe me, you are! Don’t worry about the paint for now, it is not a big deal. It will be a little nicer to work with, a little brighter, etc. and a treat when it can happen.
I hope you are well. I just wanted to check in so you didn’t think I dropped off the planet. I’ve sadly put a dust cloth over my artwork until I can find a time to get back to work on it. It’s been the busiest 3 weeks of life. I acted as a Production Manager for a concert created by 12 local Austin musicians…I had them rehearsing in my living room for almost 8 hours a day for the past couple of weeks, doing press and cooking for them….The concert was a success and I’m glad to have part of my life back.
I just spent a few days in the urban sprawl of Houston. It’s a really huge city that is very intimidating. I didn’t find a place to live yet, but haven’t given up hope. It sure makes Austin look beautiful…Then again, Houston looks like I’ll actually be able to find a job. At this point, money outweighs beauty…odd, I never thought I’d say that.
I wanted to share this really bizarre freak show of viral press that Chadwick and I received over the past few days. First, The Huffington Post with an average article. It didn’t go into any depth, but a fluffy piece is a good way to sidetrack the masses from watching fearful news about guns.
Then, the Daily Mail in London used our pictures without permission and ran a much dumber story with a “compare/contrast” element of the original paintings next to our work. They deemed the paintings we recreated as “world famous”…um…these paintings were found mainly in storage facilities in museums, either damaged, stolen, destroyed, unappreciated, unworthy of display, (one is a sketch and not a painting) – anything but world famous…
Finally, my favorite stupid article of all time is from MSN…where apparently we have “Recreated 10 famous paintings onto the body”. Just brilliant.
Things I’ve learned about press:
Press doesn’t equal money. The “journalists” never fact check or contact us prior to writing this crap. The masses that leave comments (which I should know better than to read), make me not want to ever show artwork in public…ever. To be fair, there are some good comments…And, people in general are kinda dumb.
There is certainly a major lack of art appreciation in our culture. Oh yeah, it also makes me totally frightened how easily cyber-bullies can just dismiss the life work of a fellow human just because they don’t “like it” – without any conversation at all…no questions, no thoughtfulness – even leaving comments to “get a real job” (well, that’s exactly why I’m moving to Houston) or “I can’t believe people make money doing this stuff” (yeah, neither can I. If you meet someone who does, please ask them how they do it!)…but, my all time favorite was, “If Picasso knew he could just do this type of work maybe he wouldn’t have cut off his ear.”…Seriously! ;)….The system of press is flawed in all directions unless a good friend is writing an actual article… Anyhow, here they are in all their embarrassing glory:
I miss painting and cannot wait to sit down and work. I’m in Colorado right now and get back before the New Year and am looking forward to sneaking in some long hours uninterrupted.
I hope you’re well, starting your holiday from teaching, and getting a lot of painting done. Please send photos of what you’re working on.
Happy New Year! I hope it has started out well for you.
Thanks for the encouragement with the press stuff. It’s equally exciting as it is frustrating, then it goes away, much like an illness. 😉
And, thank you for sharing your paintings. They’re always inspiring to look at. The snow painting is so beautiful. I could really get lost in that one. And, your little pops of red in the first painting are what comes to mind when I think of the work of yours I’ve seen. You’re really good at reds. Maybe I notice because it’s the one thing that has always been my biggest challenge…red of course will always “pop” by it’s very nature…but, there’s a life within it that you’re able to pull out that is so vibrant it has a pulse. That watermelon of yours….it’s stuck in my head like song. I want to see it in person someday.
It’s also of interest that you’re painting on paper. Are priming the paper first?
I think…THINK…I have finished the painting. I ran in last week from Houston and squeezed out a whole new palette and cranked out details that had been on my mind. I need to just let it sink in for a while now. In the end, I think it lives in 2 very closely related worlds. The boy figure on the bottom left is a bit darker than I think I had envisioned.
At first, I wanted to recreate the entire image as I saw it on the printout I was working from. (That’s where the boy’s skin tone emerged from). Then, I spent time contemplating how poor quality the printer that printed the image really is, the poor quality of the photograph which was plucked from the Internet, the poor condition the actual painting is in after sitting in storage after being stolen so long ago, how aged the oils are in the painting and how different it probably looks now from what it looked like 500 years ago… From that, I came up with the skin tones for the central figures (Mary and Jesus) and the background as guess work. In addition to that, at one point you mentioned how different it already looked from the original copy (I’m not fooling anyone or passing a forgery)…so, there it is…living in two worlds – one replicated from a copy of a copy of a copy….and the other, inspired by what I guess it may have looked like. Sometimes, I guess I’m indecisive. I suppose in my next attempt, I’ll try to solidify both worlds.
I’m most happy with how the background and sky turned out. It literally radiates light. I have finally, with your help, succeeded in creating light from pigment. It glows. Even in the dark, you can see the outline of the sky peeking through. I’ve always wanted to create that kind of magical alchemy where the pigments sing in harmony and create light. It’s poetically cliche and nauseating…but, it’s so, so cool. I find myself just staring at that part of the painting. I cannot thank you enough for helping me create that. I always can spot a true collaboration – because it always results in some type of beauty. Thank you for collaborating with me on this.
I’m in the middle of moving to Houston. I’m packing this week in Austin to start a brand new chapter next week. This new chapter will include paragraphs related to making money. 😉
Houston is a little jewel in Texas…Hidden under and beside the vast network of highways, are creative neighborhoods with all different types of people.
I have an apartment secured in a neighborhood that was just inducted into the Audubon Society last year (according to the street signs)…it’s very cute. The neighborhood is Montrose, next to the Museum District.
I’m off to paint a giant canvas Chinese Red acrylic for the base of a cartoon-inspired commission (oh my!). It’s a jarring change to say the least. Flexibility is key….
We’ll be mounting the next cast onto a board within the next two weeks. I’ll keep you posted. And, I’ll send you photos of the “completed” painting when I move to the same location as my computer next week.
Please send more photos of your paintings and what you’re up to.
January 10, 2013
Dear Laura —
Happy New Year as well! It sounds like yours is off to a good start!
I primed paper for many years with glue and glue gesso. Then the new paper from Arches came into my life. It is internally sized and works very well. I really liked it, was sort of shocked. I may have to go back to doing it myself, figurer out how to do something similar, but this paper is very well done.
That’s great that you feel complete with the first image, I want to see it! When you’re ready, I’d also like to talk about it on the News. Not that it’s that much publicity 😉 It is always interesting how a painting goes through stages in terms of how we see it. To me this is the fun part about working in layers: they often set the stage for something I didn’t think of.
Well, the illusion of light will always be visually magical, appeal to the inner child. It is, of course, a formula as well, so it depends on how it is used. Are we looking at real light, or faux light? Then of course, there’s digital light… So, there are lots of different slants here as well. The indecision comes about as a result of seeing contrasting possibilities, so the difference between indecision and growth is just a little more time or experience with the situation.
Congratulations on your move, it all sounds great.
New moon tomorrow, usually a very zippy day.