Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wet Feet, Humble Pie


My nephew as I left him drying yesterday

I am getting wet feet. In four weeks, that gestural portraiture workshop I signed up for begins. I had a lot of nerve jumping ahead like that when I'm just feeling my way with oils. Yes, I did a very nice portrait of those kids. Yes, I've done a few acceptable heads, but nowhere do I have near enough heads under my belt. I need hundreds more! This Blue Beard needs to step up her collection!

 So I ran off a graduation photo of my nephewand hit the studio early with the idea of dashing one off before I went into the strawberry strudel. Easy to say, hard to do. After three hours, I got this far and walked away. I do not know how you dash off an oil painting just like that, unless it's with a palette knife or some sort of magic tool and not a portrait where some degree of likeness counts. There's a likeness in this beginning. But it sure isn't  a solid one. I sure hope that "gestural portraiture" isn't the same as "well you get the idea." Maybe they'll cancel it for lack of attendance?

My nephew as I left him in a huff ten minutes ago.
Suffice it to say,I'm not finished with him yet.
His forehead is too low, but has red in it along the
hairline. his right eye looks weird and he might have a goiter?
This morning wasn't any better. I totally messed up. I know it sounds like I'm shifting the blame, but there's something about the oils I bought that I don't like and don't recall the oils of my youth as being like this. They come out of the tubes hard. To get a usable consistency I need to add a lot of medium and absolutely must use the palette knife to work the medium in. They are not Windsor Newton's top grade, they are the less expensive second grade brand, Winton. I normally do not hold back on supplies, but I figured I could with
this respectable, old company.

Then to add to my pain, I got spots of ultramarine blue and alizarine on my knit shorts and realtively new tee shirt that also goes with a dress skirt. My own fault of course. I didn't put on my doctor's coat. I was only going to be down there for a minute. One thing lead to another and I was down there totally absorbed for an hour and a half.

Two good things happened though: the fabulous paper fiber napkins I bought at our favorite restaurant are fabulous paint wipes as I suspected
they'd be. And I devised an easy way to clean my glass palette. I scraped off the excess paint with the knife. Then sprayed it with Mineral spirits and let it sit
while I frantically mineral spirited my shorts and shirt--yes I stripped down--and washed and scrubbed them.
When I had gotten most of the spots out, down to where I could live with them if that was the best that was going to happen, I scrapped the palette again. It came clean. Long story short. Having Mineral Spirits in a spray bottle is a good idea. DO YOU SEE WHAT A NOVICE I AM!

I'm in my smock now, eating a breakfast of humble pie and "spotting my clothes" with normal stain removal stuff before washing. It looks like I did manage to save them from those two heart-stopping, staining colors,. but ye gads this is discouraging. I hate to be the worst one in a workshop. --Maybe they'll cancel it for lack of attendance?

One more thing: my nephew's graduation picture when blown up to a reasonable size to use as a reference
was the worst. It pixilated so that thousands of squares make up the image. It was a very poor choice made by a very overly confident idiot. --Maybe they'll cancel it for lack of attendance?


26 comments:

  1. Dear Linda while I snack, I start the computer.I look what others painters write at this time! So I see the boy, the first and second version. There are versions, even the watercolor changes so many times ... some times look good and others do not seem accettabili.In this strange work ,that does who paints there is always an opposition of these two circumstances and, for me, the cause of ultimate success! Who is quickly satisfied does not produce this special result that reach the passionates, the restless, the malcontents! Hoping the translator (translating to understand you and me)works well, I ended comment and snack.
    I see beautiful your work in progress, full of emotion! Painters never get bored!When I feel insecure I begin another work(you can not erase in watercolors). It is wise to wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Rita, how well I know you cannot erase in watercolors! I've tried many times and failed. I have no doubt that my nephew will turn out fine in the end. I can see it in it's current state. Oils can be corrected. I think that's why they're so popular all these centuries. But it sure was a morning and then it was topped off with a further annoyance: a tunafish can getting stuck upside down and tight in my garbage disposer opening.

      After a lot of screaming and tearing of hair, the can did come out of the garbage disposer as the spots came out of my clothes. All was needed was a large screwdriver and a hammer to punch a hole so I could lift it out with the tine of a fork. I'm catching my breath now with a glass of vino before lunch. I know I shouldn't be drinking alone, but who knows what's going to happen this afternoon? The earth must of tilted overnight?

      Delete
    2. A glass of wine in these circumstances is well deserved! is like a medicine! Cheers!!!

      Delete
  2. I smiled reading your post! It is all so vividly written! I know now that oils are absolutely not for me. Good luck with your nephew, he will turn out great, I'm sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, but so much for knocking them out. I am a deliberate painter and can be no other.

      Delete
  3. It seem that we have had similar days. The last two days started good, but ended in a wasted day. I hope you have better success. Happy painting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This afternoon was a lot better. Once again in paint free clothing I went down to the studio totally covered. I was going to go back to my strawberry strudel, something pleasant and not so taxing, but I was stubborn and determined and looking for some success. I think I got it--not perfect, but GE (good enough to us on this side of the Atlantic).

      I'm sorry your day didn't go well Roger. I told Rita, I think the earth was off kilter.

      Delete
  4. I'm laughing while reading your post, Linda...too funny!! OMG! the tuna fish can getting stuck upside down in the garbage disposal?? I only wish I started my day with your post!!!!
    Anyway, I LOVE this portrait of your Nephew...very "painterly"...all it needs is a bit tweaking and that's it!!! (I agree with Rita...a glass of wine is definitely in order!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you believe it! What were the odds? Any way a Philips screwdriver and a mallet did the trick. I'm glad you were laughing; I was wondering what horrible thing did I do to upset the muses so?

      This afternoon went along uneventful, I'm happy to say. My nephew shaped up a bit better and I got closer to his good looks. Happy, uneventful painting to you Hilda, (watch out for that Alzarin; it's a killer).

      Delete
  5. Linda!
    Again your blog provided a great opportunity for laughter!
    Good luck in your workshop. You are a very talented person and I am sure you will do very well. Oils can be very tough. I think that is one of the reasons I choose acrylics and watercolor. Have fun and keep us posted.
    (Oh my friend loved the school painting. Tears of joy. Very happy.)
    Take care.
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew your friend would be overjoyed. It makes you feel good you can bring tears of joy to dear friends.

      Thanks for the encouragement Michael. I might have to take you to class with me. Whatever happens, I'm going. I'm bound to come away with something since I know so little:-))

      Delete
  6. It must be some kind of peculiar alliance in the star system... the past days were as eventful, and not in the good way I'm sad to say, as yours Linda. But you made me laugh. You have your way with words, as with your art. So, you are very right not to worry about your nephew who, by the way, looks just fine to me! His look reminds me the playful and VERY handsome look of Paul Newman.
    Warm regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know Konstantina, I thought so too--around the eyes. I noticed that this afternoon, which went a lot smoother than this morning. Sometimes life just rushes at you and you haven't even left the house. Can you imagine if you had. A piece of the sky might have fallen on your head! But it was 100 degrees here and I wasn't going anywhere but back to the drawing board in the cool basement. I hope your bad events were nothing worse than Alzarin crimson on your new tee shirt.

      Delete
  7. I love your expositions of your life, thought and practice. You express so much of the experience that we all have in life and art. Your posts are worth collecting as a diary.
    With portraits one approach is to block in the darks early on with something that dies quickly and then build on that structure. This gives a sense of needing that sort of structure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Run that by me again Mick. What something that dies quickly? You mean like burnt sienna, mixed with a tad of burnt umbra? That's what I usually do. I do the loose drawing in yellow ocre and then block in the darks. With this highly pixilated photo, shadows were nill. It really was poor choice and I don't really know what the young man looks like. I haven't seen him since he was a wee lad. On the video I watched on portraiture, Jim had the whole canvas primed with red Indian oxide. Then he blocked in the lights "till I find the mid tones." I might have to watch that again before that workshop.

      My posts are journalistic, what else? I certainly don't want to talk about politics or the state of the economy or the state of the world. That's heavy stuff and you'd all quickly guess I'm really quite dumb on those topics. I stay away from newspapers most of the time for the news is very disappointing. I thought we were the smarter species.

      Delete
    2. That should have said 'dries', but you obviously know the approach judging from your reply. I use something like raw umber with a bit of solvent that speeds the drying.
      I also avoid speaking too much about politics, not because I don't have strong views but they become a distraction from the art content. They are also a source of possible friction as there are lots of people out there with diametrically opposed views to mine.

      Delete
  8. Everything I do goes through a gangly adolescent stage. I tried to do a portrait in acrylics once - it had the zombie stage, the manikin stage, the alien stage, etc. It has been sitting faced against the wall for months now. And that is where it deserves to be.

    I would love for the things I do to be magnificent the first time, every time. Never happens. Deliberate or no. You are much to hard on yourself. I actually like the way you left him when you left in a huff - if it doesn't look like him, it looks like somebody, and has a great expression on the face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a riot Dan. I have tears in my eyes for laughter. You're so right. The horrific stages a painting goes through, you do wonder what the hell you're doing calling yourself an artist. I always keep my studio doors closed and did you notice in the movies about artists, they always have the painting on the easel covered with a shroud?

      You right again. He does look like someone, but if he ever walked off the canvas, we'd all be running for our lives! Thanks for the laugh. It does start the morning off great. I can open those door now.

      Delete
  9. Linda, I think you're getting your knickers in a bit of a twist over the gestural class. Everyone there will have signed up to learn something; none of them is going to be perfect. [I didn't sign up!!! LOL I'm so cheeky.]

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm back. I had to look up an artist's name for you. If you haven't seen her blog before, check out Susan Smolensky. Form what little I know of oils, her work is quite "gestural", and very striking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I follow Susan. She has a few heads under her belt and an good idea on what to do with oils.

      I think I do go through an hysterical phase naturally in my work process. The only thing I do that the rest of you don't, is rant to the world. My voice always did carry why not to Timbuktu?

      Delete
  11. Relax; many levels likely.

    French brands tend to be softer, looser.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try them. I'm not liking these---some are difficult to squeeze, others like Alzarin and Ultramarine ooze and get all over the place. With acrylics, it's dioxinine and thalo blue green I usually wear walking away.

      This is an interesting year I've chosen to to.

      Delete
  12. Hi LW...! I know you will love your workshop--when is it? I am so sorry that you got paint on your clothes. This is why I generally go around in painted-up clothes. It did take me awhile to get accustomed to that, because I am a former "good dresser". Sounds to me like you did a good job of rescuing your nice outfit. Thank goodness. I pretty much like those winton oils for studies. The only really dreadful winton colors (to me) is the yellows. They seem lacking in pigment. I don't think winton is generally hard...maybe you got a bum batch. As for your painting..I enjoy the painterly style...so I like what I am seeing. But...from what you have written your frustration stems from wanting to be a "deliberate" painter but painting instead of a loose manner? I believe what Mick Carney (comment above) might be referring to with placing darks first is well illustrated in this Tony Ryder demo: http://theryderstudio.blogspot.com/2010/10/tonys-portrait-painting-demo-septoct.html (you may have to cut and paste that into your browser window to get there).
    Anyway! I enjoyed this post...It is always fun to see what you are working on. I love your work ethic and you have scads of talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Celeste. It was just a passing panic attack aggravated by my not being dressed properly. The tuna can was the last straw.

      The yellows come out of the tube as oil paint should, the whites are tough,as are some of the others, not Alzarin and Ultramarine. Shelf life comes to mind. I do get lazy and run to the nearest place to pick up what I need immediately and that's Michael's, a gigantic craft store where the turnover on paints may not be as good as it is across town or online? You know how it is, you want it when you want it. I'll take a look at the Ryder demo. Thanks for the link.

      Delete
  13. The entertainment factor is a big draw to your blog...from the comments as well as your dialog.

    Regarding the stiff paints. I would squeeze out and mash a bit of linseed into them first and then place on palette. Hate to waste the tubes and you most likely got the large size.
    I have a bottle of Castille soap on hand to take any paint out of my clothes (Murphys takes color out of cloths) but BABY WIPES are perfect if it is only a little bit. They clean off your camera and keyboard too.
    A flat razor scraper covers a larger area to clean palette.
    Please think twice about spraying mineral spirits - dangerous to the nervous system if you inhale it.
    Do yourself a favor and only use Gamblin's Gamsol, which has a bit oil mixed in with it so does not dissipate into the air as fast. OSHA approved now for all university art classrooms. Most workshops are also requesting it be used.. A closed workshop classroom with everyone thinking they are safe by using 'odorless' mineral spirits can be a scary place.

    I also use a barrier cream in my hands.

    Your workshop is going to be fun and invigorating. I predict ou will be the STAR!

    ReplyDelete