Thursday, February 26, 2015

Good Medicine

The winter is limping along, and my immune system apparently is giving up.  Last week I had something like food poisoning that left me horizontal on the couch most of the day, content to watch the shadows move across the hillside across the street, and this week the worst cold sores of the century are making my mouth look and feel like I ran into the doorjamb.

But, I have been working a little on my newest mixed media piece - two men and their dog.  There will be a simple white farmhouse in the background, eventually.  So far I have some collage pieces of wallpaper adhered to my canvas, have a thin layer of gold acrylic paint over that, and have begun the first layers of the dog and men.  It is fun to work a little at a time, watching the image develop before my eyes.

And it does make me forget that I feel punky. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Then and Now

Painting over scraps of wallpaper, using old found photographs still holds my attention, and I think I finished up with one last evening.

The original black and white photo featured five people, but the two who caught my attention most were an older woman and a very saucy little girl, so I focused on them.

The process involves drawing the figures on canvas, then adding the wallpaper with a soft gel medium. I only used three styles of wallpaper this time, and I used a larger floral motif to tie the two background pieces together.  In the original photo, besides more people, there were houses, some trees, and a horizon line.  The horizon survives behind the figures, but nothing else.  I learned the hard way that being very careful to press out air bubbles behind the paper, and making sure he edges adhere securely is crucial at this point.  Once the papers are in place, I coat the canvas with a clear gesso, so that the ground is unified. On this painting I also added a thin layer of gold acrylic paint, which will peek through a bit later.

Then I just dive in, painting the flesh tones, the clothing, and trying to paint thinly enough that the pattern from the paper shows through.  A stumbling block as I went along on this one was the woman's left foot, which was lost in shadows in the photo, apparently behind the girl's left foot.  I ended up creating a foot angled out more to the left, distinct from the girl's, but minimized by shadows.

This is about finished, I think. I warmed up the skins tones, darkened the shadows cast by their hats, and added a background that is mostly Indian Red, more opaque near the bottom, more transparent near the top.  I like the results quite well.

A side note here.  The internet is a way to make friends that I never imagined when I was young.  Some people turn out to be nobody I feel the need to every meet in person, and others reveal themselves over time to share all sorts of interests and attitudes.  My online friend Monique Jacobs died recently.  Monique lived in Belgium, was a keen reader, traveler, photographer, and artist. I met her in an online sketching group and discovered we also knew each other on Shelfari.  Over time we began emailing, sending each other small artworks and cards, commiserating when life threw curve balls, and celebrating when life was good.  While we never met face to face, we were friends, and I will miss her for a long, long time.  Rest in peace, my friend.