Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tiny Canvas, Tiny Figures, Big Mountain

Tiny Canvas (9x12), Tiny Figures, Big Mountain to climb.

While I'm waiting for my new practice size canvases to be delivered, I doodled in runny oil paint on the last of my 9 x 12 canvas boards. As much as I find small size canvases to be inhibiting, I also don't enjoy canvas boards. They have no bounce.  But practice, practice, practice.  I must feel I need it?  I gave up a chapter of George Washington--yes, I'm still plugging away on that 900 plus page volumn--to draw with oils without staining the whole surface.  I did capture the stance of the Best Friends, but there's definitely more to them that requires letting this dry and then picking up a smaller brush and a mahl stick. Acrylic would have been a better choice, but I don't need practice with that medium I've used of years. I need practice with the oils.  Even though I used a lot of mineral spirits, they do dry slowly.  Takes some getting used to.

I had a funny thought while I was studying the girls.  I have actually been  teaching myself to paint with oils the last year and a half.  I never took an oil painting class--other than that  gestural portraiture four day workshop. Adding  the small format to the chore, I added  a whole other mountain to climb. I do hope 11 x 14 makes me happier in my pursuit. They should be  here by Saturday.

Historic Facts learned today:  Aside from being known as the Father of Our Country, George W, the original, is known in the agricultural field as being The Father of American Mule Breeding.  The American mule, it seems, was different than the European.  It was stronger and had a better disposition.  

20 comments:

  1. Looks exciting from I hope it's okay with your knee hugs Danielle

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    1. Thanks Danielle, but it's not exciting.It's exasperating. Tomorrow it might get exciting once I can get some solid shapes in there--probably with a pencil? My knee is still a go. I've been fooling around with it for six or seven years; it's time I crossed it off my list of medical issues. Plus, I really miss working out and biking distances. I think everything pre-op is taken care of--at least I haven't heard otherwise. So I'm back to annoying myself with these little paintings. (My art has become secondary to 1.taking care of health issues, which I have, and 2. we have friends coming to visit next week). After that, I'll be planning on how to make art post-op. Graphite. Sargent. Both jump immediately to mind.

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  2. LOVE the biker head form your last post!!! And I love Beethoven's 7th Symph. And I got a laugh about George W. being the Father of American mule-breeding . :) Thank you for that one!

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    1. Thanks Kathryn. I decided to teach myself Pathetique,this last winter of dark, gloom, snow,freezing temps and a old that wouldn't go away. I thought what better tune to spend my piano time on in the gloom? Now here it is the middle of A cold, gloomy, rainy August and I come along way with it. I've got the second movement down nearly to memory, the third is coming nicely and so is the first. It was the first movement I played after my phone calls to doctors' offices yesterday. But instead of playing it pp, very softly, I let it rip. Beethoven can be very useful in destressing.

      As for George W, the first on the list of US Presidents, he loved being a farmer and was quite innovative--not only did he breed the first American mule, but he designed and built a better plow and was big into radically rotating crops--not only tobacco with corn and wheat, but peas and other greens as well over a period of years. He also was a down into the earth with his own hands farmer who worked along with his slaves planting and repairing and doing whatever needed doing. Aside from his slave attitude, a necessity given the number of acres he had, which Lafayette found extremely hypocritical after the Revolution, this "gentleman farmer" was a laborer in the true sense of the word. Interesting man with a few contradictions.

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  3. I love hearing that you have taught yourself how to paint with oils. What fun! I guess it is all about the true spirit of being an artist... to keep growing.
    This painting has wonderful movement.

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    1. Not so much fun YET. It will be with improvement--about 6 more years. I had experience with oils forty five years ago, but gave it up for acrylics; they stunk up the house and gave me headaches. Acrylics became my paint of choice. A commission for a portrait a year and a half ago turned me back on. So, I'm paying my dues. Thanks Julie. I think so too. I didn't get very far--too much fluid in the mix--but the images are just tangible enough to see them through. I will try them again in a larger format.

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  4. I'm back! ...again! 15 pounds lighter which helps the knees. I haven't tried oils yet but I have bought some water based ones, to avoid the smells! Will give them a try soon!

    Given that the arch-enemy was GeorgeIII, you'd have thought George W and the king would have got along together. The king was known as 'Farmer George' and was an agrarian revolutionary himself!

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    1. Glad to see you back. Hope the weight loss was intended and not due to illness. Lowest Sodium eating has taken 17 pounds off of me and my knee and has been a good thing with regards to SEH and all the clothes I have in storage. But it is a horrible way to live with regards to dining out with friends in over salted restaurants. Consequently, I carry salad dressing and sauces with me in my purse. Charming.

      Well if the farmer King George IIIrd didn't over tax the colonists, we'd all still be countrymen and the king might or might not have heard of George Washington. By the time he did, he was probably sorry he ever did. It cost him a sizable piece of continent and us a civil war later on over the agracultural system in this country that depended so much on slave labor and indentured servents. History is such an eye opening read.

      Oils don't stink. The stuff in the tubes have no appreciable odor. It was the turpentine that smelled years ago. Now, I'm using odorless Mineral Spirits for cleaning brushes or wiping out sections, and half mineral spirits and half linseed oil as a medium-- for serious work--not the quick sketch shown here. I didn't like the water based oils--not an easy blend. Get the real stuff. You'll be great at it.

      So glad you're back. I've missed your comments--and your thoughtfulness.

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  5. I love watching your experimentation, reading your thoughts on the different formats and processes and I admire your pioneering spirit!

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    1. Thanks Susan. Out to lunch today talking art, I discovered I am deliberately taking a side step with these little heads to loosen up for the larger portrait I've undertaken of JD. The little format isn't working. I want JD to not have uptight brushwork. The little format prohibits such looseness, so I ordered 11 x 14 canvesses. I'll see, if that size makes me more comfortable? It's not experimenting really, it's preplanning my approach.

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  6. With all the historical studying I have done, I never knew that about George. Now the mules run the country!

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    1. George Washington by Ron Chernow. Also, turns out he did chop down a cherry tree AND another cherry tree, but not as a kid--as a grown man at Mt. Vernon. I think they were on the "bowling green." He didn't want any trees obstructing the view of visitors to the estate. Appearances were very important to George.

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  7. Love this little gem, it has rhythm and charm in abundance. But I agree about size, I don't like fiddling or small brushes!
    I do hope you will get your knee sorted.....what a palava!

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  8. PS, I do favour the canvas boards though, better for vigorous scrubbing!

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    1. I'll take your word for it and keep it in mind. So far, I haven't had a desire to scrub lightly or vigorously. I did scrub a stretched canvas once. I scrubbed the dried acrylic paint off right down to the surface again using denatured alcohol applications. The grain was still intact, as was the tension. Sag did not occur. But that was cleaning the surface to begin again. Are you talking about scrubbing as a paint technique for a textural look?
      I do lighten areas using mineral spirits only and a clean dry brush with sturdy bristles. --I think what ever feels good. Stretched tight like a drum is my preference. The texture of stretched cotton canvas (and linen, which I've only tried once in this life and felt inhibited by the very cost of it) is richer looking than the canvas on boards. They do cost most, but the grain and finish looks it. Maybe I'm just a snob? Maybe I feel this way because I don't do a painting a day? Maybe because I used them as a kid, so they stuck in my mind as beginners' materials. I LIKE BOUNCE is what my preference comes down to.

      The new practice canvases I ordered, 11x14, are stretched cotton 3/4" thick, 2 in a package. The total cost per canvas, including the shipping, is $6.00 a lot less than a movie, a game of miniature golf, a paperback book. Seemed a reasonable cost for a day's entertainment --if you can call painting entertaining? :-)). I haven't gotten that far.

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  9. Glad your pre-op stuff got sorted out.

    I like these figures together. I can see why you have been doing variations on them.

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    1. I was attracted to the girlisness of the two and that hug that showed so much affection.

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  10. fun to see the block in--the gesture is so good! I have every confidence you'll be happy with your new canvases. Most of the plein air painters use canvas panels and they can be lovely surfaces (I've seen guys glue down really nice oil primed linen, etc)---but I understand that you don't like the feel. We all have our druthers! I will watch to see what you do next!

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    1. Great idea covering a canvas board with a finer grade, but I still like the bounce of stretched. I'm going to do very little to this sketch--maybe some solidifying? Now that the new size practice canvases have been delivered, I'm thinking of practicing on Ellis and me for a note card for the holidays. I'm searching out an appropriate reference photo.

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  11. Linda!
    This is a wonderful and delightful piece. You captured everything!
    Art is important! Thank you for posting your work. Makes my day!
    Michael

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