Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red & gray Ford tractor in landscape underpainting; oil on panel by Paul Baldassini

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“Few people who do anything excellent are ever heard of...Americans have been bred to appreciate the success of the mediocre.”  — Frank Zappa

With my composition laid out, today I began the underpainting, again using Quinacridone Magenta (Sennelier) straight out of the tube. This time around I’m painting on a primed panel instead of my usual linen mounted on panel. The panel is 1/2-inch MDF sealed and primed with one coat of Latex exterior white housepaint and two coats of Gamblin Oil Painting Ground, which is a mixture of alkyd resin, titanium dioxide and barium sulfate — no lead. Trim size is 33 1/2 x 24 inches.

Painting on this surface is different from painting on the primed linen. It’s more slippery as the paint sits on top longer before sinking in so the underpainting takes longer to dry. That's OK with me because by thinning out the paint with OMS I can make the paint behave much like a watercolor. Areas can be totally removed as necessary with a brush dipped in pure OMS or blended together drybrush. Over the course of the painting session the paint stays wet enough to easily manipulate including glazing over with darker paint or wiping out with a rag or brush or both. I keep a couple of folded up sheets of paper towels on the end of my palette to blot up excess OMS from the brush as necessary to effect the area I’m working on. Likewise, if I were working on a watercolor I would use a small household sponge to wick water off my brush as necessary. It’s very easy to make corrections and entire sections can be wiped clean to start over without disturbing the underlying disegno (I love that word). I start at the top and noodle and muddle my way down so my hand does not rest on wet paint when getting in close for some detail work and/or I use my trusty mahlstick. It’s a nice way to paint and exciting to watch the composition take shape and emerge from the pure white ground.

The tunes for this session came from Frank Zappa’s 1970  Burnt Weeny Sandwich  (the 1983 remastered version) featuring most of the original Mothers, and Fleetwood Mac  Live at the Boston Tea Party   recorded in February 1970, part of a superbly produced triple CD package remixed and released in June 1998 featuring founder Peter Green in a sublime performance.

It will be another day or two until I get to Stage 2 and completion of the underpainting so please check in then.


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