Monday, December 20, 2010

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

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“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”  — Jimi Hendrix

After several more sessions this past week, I’m on the home stretch. Below is the painting to date, another 18 hours or so of work. It’s a relief and great fun to use the larger brushes and loosen up on the background foliage before getting back into the “small brush” stuff with the wheels and tires, but I really dig the whole thing. Just love mixing colors and getting the values right. I started by “oiling up” the entire background with my usual green, a medium-dark mixture of Williamsburg Indigo and Sennelier Chinese Orange mixed with a generous amount of jelly medium Old Master’s Maroger Flemish Medium). After getting another cup of hot coffee, the surface is tacky and ready to accept brushwork using the base green neutralized with Sennelier Warm Grey and modulated with either Viridian, Williamsburg Perylene Crimson or Rembrandt Cad. Yellow Medium. I paint fast and try not to intellectualize to much about what I’m doing or I’m lost and mess things up. It’s important to get it down in one take, directly painted with no looking back. At this point I hardly refer to reference image and just pay attention to my underpainting value map. As usual, the work progresses from the top down and left to right on a particular area. The work progresses in 4 hour bursts — once I get in the zone the time goes by very fast.

Next onto the wheels and tires. My blacks are mixed from Indigo, Perylene Crimson and Burnt Sienna Dark.  Makes a nice rich black and is easily modulated warm or cool with the addition of more or less of one of those colors.  Sometimes I add Ultramarine or Raw Sienna but I never really know when or why, and just try it and see if it works with the overall harmony of convincing outdoor light of the painting.

The first oil up is the aforementioned black but thinned with a lot of jelly medium. Although it’s dark I can still see through to the monotone value map underpainting.  After this sets up, I begin laying in the more opaque body color and blending the forms in light. The final touches are the lighter tones mixed with the addition of Warm Grey and then the highlights mixed with Ultramarine and/or Indigo, Warm Grey and a touch of white.

It all moves very quickly and then I’m onto the wheels, the colors of which are mixed from lots of Warm Grey, Viridian and darkened with Perylene Crimson and/or Raw Sienna.  Highlights are mixed from white with a touch of Warm Grey and  Viridian.

I block in and then refine the red hubs and with carefully and quickly placed smallish strokes of many different values and hues paint the lug nuts and other details. I stop when I feel that I’ve successfully created the illusion of wheels and tires and their attendant details.  Here's a close-up of the wheels in-progress:

To get into painting zone for these sessions I listened to a bunch of stuff including Jerry Lee Lewis London Sessions, recorded in 1973 and featuring a huge group of guest artists including Albert Lee, Alvin Lee, Rory Gallagher, Kenney Lovelace and Klaus Voormann; “Getting To This” from Mick Abrahm’s band Blodwyn Pig recorded in 1970, and the B-52’s immaculately produced “Whammy” recorded in 1983.

Thanks for visiting. I welcome your comments or please ask me a question, I’ll do my best to answer it right away.