Monday, August 25, 2014

Rainy Days and Mondays

Dang - it's raining again on Monday, the day that, at least during the summer, I like to drive to Whitewater for figure drawing.  But the rain today has been noisy with rolling thunder and constant.  It is one of those gloomy days where the lights need to be switched on to read or do any artwork, and I'd just as soon be asleep, thank you.

But I did spend a few hours up in my little studio working on a piece that I started about a year ago, and had no trouble abandoning - more than once.  It's turning out to be a mixed media piece, although when I originally planned it I thought it would be acrylic with gold leaf.  I'd done a series of 8x8 inch acrylic paintings with gold leaf backgrounds, and I wanted to try the same technique with something larger.

So, I drew out three seated children reading together from a flea market snapshot, and quickly realized I was in trouble.  I had primed the canvas in red, and started the under painting in black and white, and I knew that I did not know how to work out the background.  What to do?

Nothing.  I put it aside for several weeks and on a winter workshop day I hauled it out and dutifully worked on the value part of the painting some more. But the love was not there.  So, once more the painting leaned against the wall in the studio, neglected but not forgotten. 

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Then I had an idea. I had done a 11x14 inch nude study, with collaged papers in the background, glazed over so there was an interesting pattern behind the figure, but subtle.  Why not try something like that with the painting of the children?  I couldn't like it any less than I did already, so nothing to lose but some time.  So, I hauled out some of my bags of printed papers, wallpaper samples and the like and used gel medium to paste them down.  Then I used burnt sienna acrylic paint to tint some clear gesso and went over the whole thing to unify it.  Suddenly that old lovin' feeling began to return.

Now I am using water soluble oil paint and painting in the figures.  The background will be mostly dark, and I hope the patterns peek through.  We shall see.  But at least I'm moving forward.

What a relief!

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