Monday, September 27, 2010

Overpainting in-progress of rural CT landscape with tractor

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“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things” 
— Edgar Degas

Here is Stage 1 of the overpainting of my newest painting tentatively titled “Orange MMZ in morning light.”  I’ve now laid out a full palette of colors: arranged along top edge of my palette from left to right they are: Gamboge Lake Extra (Old Holland); Cadmium Yellow Medium (Rembrandt); Raw Sienna (Williamsburg); Chinese Orange (Sennelier); Fanchon (Napthol) Red (Williamsburg); Perylene Crimson (Williamsburg); Burnt Sienna Deep (Blockx); Viridian (Williamsburg); Ultramarine Blue French (Williamsburg); Indigo (Williamsburg); Warm Grey (Sennelier); Titanium Zinc White (Gamblin). I also use Quinacridone Magenta (Sennelier) but only for my underpainting grisaille. The paints are pretty much arranged warm to cool and lightest to darkest in value.

I work from the top down, starting with the sky as that is usually the lightest area of the painting. My typical procedure is to direct paint each area of similar colors first before moving onto the next. Using Old Masters Maroger Painting Medium, each “puzzle piece” is first “oiled up” with the jelly medium. In the case of the lighter areas I use the jelly medium straight with no color added. I use a crappy old brush and put on a light coating, then work my paint colors into that. For the sky I mixed up a puddle of light orange using some Cad. Yellow Medium, touch of Fanchon Red and lots of Titanium Zinc White, and brushed that on left to right. I let the wet paint set and get tacky while I moved onto the background. It sets up rather quickly and “grabs” the next layer of paint beautifully.

Now I tackled the background trees and bushes. This time I mixed some darkish green color into the jelly medium and oiled up the entire background area with it. I work fast and mix colors without really thinking much about it. I know where my 11 standard colors are along the top and reach for them unconsciously while I make a great many puddles all over my glass palette. I then make other puddles, lightening, darkening, warming or cooling new colors as necessary. For my basic green first layer color I usually mix up some Chinese Orange and Indigo in one puddle and another puddle using Perylene Crimson and Viridian. These are all transparent color mixtures and make a gorgeous greens that really vibrate over the Quin. Magenta underpainting. The base puddle greens can be easily modified with more orange to warm it up or more Indigo to cool it. I just scrub the glaze colors on varying where I place them here and there until I have something that looks right to me. I don’t pay much attention to my source image at this point just listen to the music and go with the flow. Then I let that area set up and go back to the sky.

I complete the sky with a mixture of French Ultramarine, Warm Grey and a some Titanium Zinc White. Using a some jelly medium added to the new mixture, I apply that new layer making vertical brush marks over the first tacky light orange-yellow layer, grading slightly down to the bottom. The tacky bottom layer slightly mixes with and neutralizes the blue sky layer and creates the desired effect rather quickly. I paint my skies with vertical strokes as I think they look better that way contrasting the horizontal (for the most part) strokes of ground areas. Now back to the trees and bushes.

At this point I just start mixing up lots of green colored puddles in many different values and temperatures and just start applying them over the tacky darkish green background until it looks right. I pay attention to the VALUES of my reference image, but no so much the color -- making it up as I go. There’s no rhyme or reason to it and I work too fast to really think much about. If I dwell too long on color mixing, color and value then what happens is that I end up worrying about everything to much and make a big mess.

I tend to work the overpainting in areas of similar hues, since that way my color puddles are all (pretty much) related and don’t get muddied by, say complementary color puddles. For the tractor I oiled-up and glazed with a jelly medium mixed with Chinese Orange, a bit of Peryelne Maroon and a touch of Cad. Yellow Medium. Then I cleaned the background greens off my palette and started making orange-yellow mixtures from all of my yellow and orange paints (from the left side of the palette) and a bit of Warm Grey, and got to painting. I put down the darkest values of a particluar hue first and worked my way up to the brightest values saving pure white with just a speck of Cad. Yellow Medium or French Ultramarine for the final highlights. Below is a photo of what my palette looked like while I was working on the orange-yellow tractor.

Above is palette showing  yellow, orange color mixture puddles

To get me into the painting zone, today I listened to Rage Against the Machine’s self-named first (and best, IMO) CD, recorded in 1992 and issued by Epic, when the “grunge” movement was in full swing. Unfortunately, I never got see these guys live, but judging from the live shows available on DVD, they really mean business. The band leader and singer Zack De La Rocha’s vocals are dynamic, powerful and frightening at times -- he doesn’t really use melodies, instead he raps, using body language and anger to fuel his unique sound. The band members hurtle through giant chords, evincing a huge soundstage accompanied by guitarist Tom Morello’s inventive and unique playing and noisings. Extraordinary production and superb engineering and mixing by Andy Wallace at Quantum Studios in New Jersey. I really like loud angry music with attitude and this stuff is definitely not for everyone but I love it, often playing the whole CD several times over during a painting session.

That’s it for now. Thanks again for visiting.


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