Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gray Paint

The results of a project I've intended to do for a long time: mix and tube eight values of neutral gray, according (to the best of my old eyes, bad light, and less than ideal reference) to the Munsell scale. I have found the best way to neutralize color is with the same value of gray, as complements are hard for me to control and unpredictable. My palette usually contains a string of grays, but each session's string tended to vary by my patience or what I perceived the needs of the painting to be (and my perception often veered toward "less"). Finally I ordered empty tubes (from, a wonderful resource for painters) and on Thursday started squeezing and mixing. I used several ends of whites, mostly flake with some titanium and zinc, and most of a new tube of Michael Harding Cremnitz white (lovely paint). A mountain of white to amalgamate. Then a much smaller pile of "black"--a mix of ivory, Williamsburg's Black Roman Earth, and some burnt umber to maintain the neutrality (black paint, especially ivory, tends toward blue). The stainless condiment cup in the photo holds about 60ml; the empty tubes were 50ml; so I had at least a general idea of how much to mix for one tube. I started with a small pile of value 5, to see how hard this was going to be and to check the hue of my black, and then used it to tint the lighter values. I worked from light to dark and fortunately had mixed enough (just enough) black and more than enough white. Kind of messy but very satisfying.

There was enough white to mix four values of raw umber as well.

The Nap One redux

I hope this one is finished; next week it goes to be photographed. The professional photographer will no doubt be able to get an image substantially closer to the real thing--and maybe give me some tips on improving my own photos of work.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Nap One (WIP)

Might be finished. No title yet, oil on linen on board, 16" x 20."


Finally got a photo of this one before it goes off to a new temporary home in PA.
Rocks (From Dice's Head), 1997, oil on paper, 23" x 30."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Stretching canvas

In today's mail (snail) came Just Paint, Golden's newsletter. It featured an article about stretching canvas, from the corners in, with pictures. Here's a link:
(No pics online?)

Over the years I have become more careful about supports, even though (knock wood) I've yet to have a real failure. One of the things I've managed in the past couple of weeks in spite of this bronchitis that's hanging on is to stretch a few canvases, working in the traditional way from the centers and spinning it, tacking as I go. Then I sized them with rabbitskin glue, and after it dried, as it turned out, almost completely restretched the canvases (it usually turns out that way--I blame it on the humidity). The cheap Polish linen from Jerry's Artarama bagged and sagged unevenly, as though the manufacturing sizing hadn't completely washed out, whereas the Utrecht 66J (my favorite fine portrait linen) sagged quite evenly, needing to be merely tightened (which still involved pulling all the tacks and doing it over). With both linens I was careful to identify the straight grain--thanks to Miss Morrison, who in junior high Home Ec taught me almost everything I needed to know about working with cloth: not just how to run a sewing machine, but how to maintain it; how to alter a pattern to fit; which fabric worked with which styles... The bright yellow "slacks" I constructed for my oatmeal cookie butt were not her choice, but goddamn they fit. Sorry, I digress. My point is that I have always been careful, I'm not stupid about fabric, I use heavy-duty stretchers with quite a proud lip--and still I restretch. My painter friends think I'm some kind of dinosaur because I use tacks rather than a staple gun, but aside from the fact that a tack hammer is easier on my increasingly fragile wrists, it's way simpler to pull tacks when you adjust the canvas.

I've read the Cennini Forum for several years, where I've picked up some very useful information and been exposed to, let's say, some very odd attitudes. Stretching canvas is a subject that comes up often, and the moderator and owner of the forum has been reticent with advice, promising a DVD on the subject soon, with repeated warnings that everything you know is wrong. (Lot of help that is to artists who have to keep working, hoping that what they know is good enough.) I wonder if James Bernstein, in this article, has stepped on Rob Howard's lines. I'm eager to try Bernstein's method.

Mexican Plate

From earlier this year: Trailer Series: Mexican Plate. Oil on linen, 18" x 24."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Time to get started

Since I seem to be unable to get a website up, this blog will serve for the moment to show some new and old work.

This is Trailer Series: Bedroom from 2005. Oil on linen on panel, 16" x 18."