PENCIL CONTOUR PAINT-IN
There's a lot of homework with this class I'm taking on the Venetian Painting Technique. Last week, I divided the 24 x36 canvas and reference photograph into coordinated scaled grids and drew in the contour drawing over a three day period. The next step was to paint in those contour pencil lines using Burnt Umbra and two parts mineral spirits to one part linseed oil, preferably Gamblin linseed oil light. I had Grumbacher; I used it.
Going over pencil lines with a fine line, number zero sable brush is--'tedious' would be an understatement--made me anxious, Xanax anxious. I mean pace the cage growly. Sitting at the easel, not my usual stance, painting with my nose and a mahl stick. I had to break often. I took a walk outside. I got a drink of water. I went around and looked at what others were doing. I took a bathroom break. At end of class, I was about half finished. Today, I'll finish maybe? I figure I must finish the contour today or tomorrow, let it dry a couple of days and then lay in the wash, which is done evenly with a two inch hard bristle brush. By Sunday, maybe the ground will be dry and I can start the underpainting? I'd like to be up with the others, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PAINTING. Going slowly with the contour, I had a great likeness everyone recognized. Going slow with painting in the lines, I found drawing errors and made corrections. And the paint over continues. To relieve the tension today and possibly tomorrow, poor Henry will get a pair of shoes and details in his flaxen hair. That done, I'll need more Gestural paintings in progress for relief. It's so difficult not to want to shade in forms.
Short story: there was a gal painting her sister's portrait. It wasn't good. The sister looked too chubby; the shadows weren't deep enough; highlights were where they shouldn't have been. I couldn't keep my mouth shut. On one of my many walk always, I noticed the flaws. During friendly conversation, I told her of the value of backing away from the painting often and squinting at the reference photo and pulled her back. She saw what I saw and knew what needed doing. I like to think I brought something to the party, but Ellis thought I had stepped on the teacher's toes. I disagreed. This technique where people sit and never back up and squint to scrutinize their work doesn't lead to a painting with merit. They're too close to the subject and the paint to see what they're doing. I'm with Schmid on this issue.
STILL AHEAD: LAYING OUT THE PALETTE FOR THE GRISAILLE
For the underpainting, Raw Umbra and Titanium White is laid out on the palette in a row of four knobs separated from one another by a couple of inches, more between the two in the middle: white; white; RU; RU. The middle knobs are mixed together to form three values ranging from the white on one side of the row and the umbra on the other. Easy enough. I do work that way with values.
Todd's linseed oil/ mineral spirits mix seems important. Using it extends the paint. One little dab did me for what you see of the contour. At the end of class, I did't mind tossing the remainder in the trash. Todd insists starting with fresh paint every painting session and is against freezing it. He hasn't told me why yet.