Monday, July 31, 2017

Almost to the fun part

I've been making slow progress on the painting, and have almost finished the underpainting. After getting the more detailed photos I wanted, I'm tweaking the shapes of the bluffs on both sides of the river—and taking a lot more time than I thought I would need to do it. But I've started putting in some shape details and playing with colors a little on both the land and the clouds, which is fun doing this big.

I finally rearranged the easel setup so I can see the tv in my studio while I paint. I'm so used to watching dvds or streaming while I'm painting, I was really missing it.

It's going to be really hot here for the next week and a half, to hot to do anything outside besides water, so I should get a lot done.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I need more paint

Three and a half days of work later, I'm still working on the underpainting. I emptied another partial tube of paint—my cobalt green. I had just placed another order with Blick two days before, so I had to switch to a different green, permanent green light, and adjust the mix appropriately so it's good enough for now. I really underestimated how much additional paint I would need for this. And this is just the underpainting! Who knows how much more I'll need for the glazing!

Other than that, it's going well. I'm getting more detailed photos of the hills to work with, and once those get drawn in, I'll be able to start playing with more hues and layers of glazing.

I would say at this point that being able to work across two canvases at once is pretty much a requirement, for efficiency if nothing else, and especially when you have a design that requires continuity of line across those seams.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The whole three yards

I was sitting in the living room staring unconsciously at my sofa when I realized that its length and poufy cushion makes it possible for me line up the canvases out here so I can see them all together, and from more than three feet away. The only way I can see them lined up in the studio is to stand to one side and use a fresnel lens:

Obviously not a great solution.

So! On we go. For the first two days I couldn't help spending time saying to myself, "What was I thinking?", even as it was taking shape. I would stand looking at just two panels together and think, that is huge! But being right up there next to it, with those intense colors filling my field of view, mixing big globs of paint and brushing it on with large, bold strokes—it feels great!

I have to take my 40% coupon to Michael's this morning and get more purple and diarylide yellow paint, but right now I'm just excited to see it all together. And, very, very happy that I can see it all together.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Making room for a big canvas

The first day of work on the painting I put each canvas up on my regular easel one at a time and blocked in the top band of purple. When I finished that and lined them up, I saw that even with the drawing, there was a big difference on the sides of the #1-#2 seam. I knew then that I really needed to work on two at a time.

So today I moved my regular easel out to the garage and brought the rack back in, and set it up in the studio in the only place there's room. I set up a table on either side, and used the counter behind me to hold everything else.

Once I got a workable setup and started putting on the paint, it became fun. I'm really going through paint as I block in the basic shapes. I wish I could put all three up, but there just isn't enough room, in my 13'x15' converted-garage hobby room/studio.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Bigger Gorge

I'm following in the steps of David Hockney and Robert Burridge and taking on my first ever multiple-canvas painting—and it's a big one. A triptych 4' high by 9' wide—three 36x48 canvases. I've done singles that size, even a 36x60 once, but this is a whole new level of largeness for me. It's going to make this studio feel pretty small, I'm thinking.

The design that my client chose is my little gorge sunrise sketch I did in May:

Since the design has so many lines that continue across two of the canvases, I have to have some way to line up at least two at a time for the drawing, the color matching, and the finishing touches—hmmm, that's about 80% of the painting time—so I'll be pressing my folding show rack into service. I was very happy to find out that it's plenty big enough to hold two.

I'll be blogging this all the way to its hang-up in a North Portland office building! I'm guessing it'll take me 2-3 months to finish. I think the biggest challenge is going to be to create enough texture and color detail to make it interesting at that size when the design is so simple. That may not be a problem at all, but it's the thing I'm most concerned about right now. Well, that and getting around in my studio while it's in here. I had to do some clean-up, some clear-out, and move one chair out to the garage,  but that's not bad. I've always wanted to paint big, so here's my chance to find out if I do like it!

And when I'm done, it'll be Autumn!

Monday, July 10, 2017

An affordable display that fits in my Corolla

Cheap, portable display system
I made this display out of the cheap tripod easels you can get in hobby stores like Michaels and Joann. With a coupon a single one is $10-12. It took me a while to think up a way to hang more paintings off a single easel. I ended up drilling holes through the lower sections in the front legs and inserting #10 bolts with washers and wing nuts. When I first tried hanging the framed works from them, because of the legs angling out, the paintings turned inward toward the center.

I went to Home Depot and bought a roll of vinyl pipe hanging strap, and cut lengths to fit from bolt to bolt with the legs out as far as they go. I used a hole punch to cut bigger holes for the bolts. Because of the thickness of the vinyl, I had to use a bench vise to squeeze the hole punch, but that worked. With the crosspieces tight and the legs spread as far as possible, the vinyl strap keeps the paintings from turning inside.

For quick setup and teardown, I leave the vinyl strap and bolts on, take out the top bolt, and use cheap velcro ties ($7 for 100 on Amazon) to tie the legs together. They take up almost no room in the car (if you don't have anyone in the passenger seat), running from the front foot well back over the seat into the back, and each one weighs very little.

I must say that these are really cheap easels with tiny screw eyes for the chain—they will not withstand rough handling, and might not hold really heavy paintings on the crosspieces. I set up four, two pair back-to-back, using the same velcro ties to (a) tie the back-to-back pair at the center joint of the back legs, and (b) to tie the hanging wire on each top painting to one easel leg. For extra wind-proofing, I hung full gallon water jugs from the crossed rear legs of each back-to-back pair. They didn't move at all and once I got the paintings level, they stayed that way. Now they're all together out in the garage, taking up very little room, all ready for the next time I need them.

As you can see, there's a size limit for the lower paintings, these are 12x16 frames. But if you bolted on a longer, sturdy crosspiece instead of the strapping, that stuck out past the legs, you could hang larger paintings from that.

p.s. — Lewisia sold, and Memaloose Island as well!