Daily Painting Challenge, January 2015, Day 28
January 31, 2015
oil on canvas panel, 6×6″
At this stage of the Daily Painting challenge, Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, I’ve completely lost the sequence of paintings and days. I date the back of each canvas panel and refer to the previous painting rather than the date on my weblog or the date on Leslie Saeta’s weblog. The differences in time zones between the US are huge; the automatic dates on my blogs generated by WordPress are different from my own timezone; Leslie allows extra time for paintings to be uploaded. I know I lost a day or two last week because of a death in the family and some heat stress because of the weather, but the method underpinning each painting is improving day by day and frankly if I’m painting every day, I don’t really care whose sequence I feel I need to fall in with!
I was so “fluent” with the process today that I was able to stop and take some sequential photos.
This dramatic red onion allows me to play around with my tubes of violet paint. Having three, sometimes four, separate colours for red, blue, green, yellow, purple helps.
The underdrawing has to include some of the major tonal areas of the subject. I’m considering big colour changes as well as big tonal changes. I’m concentrating on the contours of the figure against the ground, especially where they count: the light against the dark back wall. I’m not focussing on detail; this is not a Drawing.
The next step is acrylic underpainting in complementary opposites. Invariably, I will lay out red, blue and yellow acrylics and mix from there. It’s a good sign if I am using all three. Mainly to confirm that I’m on the right track with how the figure is in relation to the ground. I could do this in oils of course, or I could do a tonal background using a Van Dyke brown. But this is Fast Painting, not Slow Painting. My 6×6″ canvas panel (tripled primed in white gesso) is being supported on a 8×10″ canvas panel, still wrapped in its plastic. I could Bluetack it to the plastic, I suppose, but this support is enough to keep my fingers away from the edges of the painting.
By rights, if I were to strictly follow Arthur Stern, I’d lay out and mix all colours before going anywhere near the canvas. But I tend to work the three areas separately: back wall, floor, then object. Sometimes I fill up two 10×12″ palettes with my mixes, but in this painting I filled up only one.
Sometimes I will take a break to clean the palette in the middle of my painting session. I don’t clean my palette completely; since this is a wooden one, I simply scrape off any excess and then rub the remainder back in to the “grey” of the palette.
I put the acrylic underpainting in the sun to dry for five minutes and use the time to lay out my tubes of paint. I may add bits of other colours from different tubes, but I know in advance that these are the ones I will rely on almost exclusively for this particular painting: Titanium White since there’s a lot of white and light tints; Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna and a pinkish grey (Australian Grey), since the back wall is a blueish-grey; a range of Yellows for the floor; a range of Purples for the onion. The root section of this particular onion is a rich chocolate brown, so I’ve whipped out my Yellow Ochre and Van Dyke Brown for this special effect.
I’m invariably these days starting with the back wall and here’s how it looks with the palette. I’m resting the painting in my lap on the palette; I’m working outdoors in shade. In a more sophisticated setup, I might have the panel on the strictly vertical on an easel, adjacent to the subject; I’d step back two metres to make my decisions and then move in to add paint. My domestic workspace doesn’t allow for such sophistication! Knowing how much paint to put out has become easier after four weeks; it comes with practice and these days there’s hardly any paint left to scrape off. I leave the blue and brown on the palette because I know I’ll use them for the darkest areas of the onion.
Here’s the floor done and I’ve started jumping into the onion already. I’m not entirely happy with either the back wall or the floor, but I keep moving forward. I know I could spend days on both in order to get them 100% to my liking.
Here’s the onion proper finished. I stop when I’m really starting to fuss over some of the colours and definition of geometric shapes. Despite it starting to turn into a mud pie, I can walk away knowing I’ve got down most of the colours I observed and was faithful to most of the geometric shapes I observed.
Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days, January 2015, organised by Leslie Saeta (http://lesliesaeta.blogspot.com.au).
Reference: Stern, Arthur. How to see color and paint it: a series of projects designed to open your eyes to colors you never saw before. New York, Watson-Guptill, 1984.