Friday, January 29, 2010

Modeling form with impasto paint. This painting is 11x14, and was done rather quick, using large hog bristle brushes. I wasn't really worrying about detail, but rather wanted to convey form, and focus on the effect of light. It is painted on burlap that has been glued to a hard wood panel. Burlap is a very rough textured fabric, and has exceptionally large interstices. It requires a great deal of preparation, as it is very absorbant. Generally about 4 layers of gesso. A friend tossed a piece to me several years back , and said "try painting on that." I thought he was insane, but gave it a try nevertheless. It turns out to be an amazing surface to paint on. The paint can be plastered into the fabric, and this permits paint to be blended well without mediums, and it provides a nice foundation for impasto paint. I later found out that Gaugain painted on jute, after seeing a painting at the Toledo Museum of art. One thing that is for certain is that it is very hard on brushes.

Another primitive from a few years ago. This is on gessoed wood panel, and is oil paint and and alkyd resin. The colors are Winsor and Newton gold, copper, chromium oxide green, ivory black, titanium white, cobalt blue, yellow ocher, permanent alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, red iron oxide, and Prussian blue. I made the frame for this one, and although I am not a monk, the painting was displayed at the gallery Monk Works, at Worthington Ohio. This gallery was where Father Nathaniel (Greek Orthodox) displayed his icons. I was invited to show work there, and appreciated the opportunity.

This paining is an image that I enjoy painting. Although it is a primitive, it has quite a bit of meaning for me.

As I painted this, I thought of the hours spent watching Father Nathaniel, formerly of St. Theodore House, Galion, Ohio, paint icons. Althought this is no icon, and is completed using linseed oil and not tempera, I was inspired by his icons. Father Nathaniel passed away several years ago, due to a lung ailment. I remember his admonition to avoid making paint, with raw pigments. He indicated that his health was affected by breathing some pretty nasty pigments in his youth.

I heeded his warning, and in making all of the paint for this painting, I used the proper safety equipment. The colors were for the most part earth colors, and non-toxic, except of the yellow ocher. For this painting, I used red iron oxide, lapis lazuli, yellow ocher,raw sienna, titanium white, and burnt umber. The pigments were obtained from Sinopia, Maimeri, and several other sources. They were all hand mulled in cold pressed linseed oil, and a little amber varnish, added at the end. The painting is on wood panel, and is varnished with amber varnish, that I made several years ago, and allowed to age. It is enjoyable to make paint, but considering that it took approximately one hour to mull each color, it is so much earier to simply uncap a tube, and squeeze out a paint nut.

These types of paintings are very different than images that I normally paint, yet painting a primitive, in this manner, is almost meditative. It does improve the focus.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asteh Tisi Elaws

Dave passed away June 1, 2011. He will be missed. One day years ago now, I was standing there under a bright spring sun, talking with Dave, and immediately noticed a spider was crawling on his shirt. It was a quite intimidating spider, and I said Dave you have a spider on you, and pointed to it. He looked at it, then lifted it with his finger, stooped down and placed it on the ground. It crawled away. I would have smashed it, and asked him why he did not do likewise. He said that one shouldn't kill something when it was not necessary. I will never forget that. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known Dave. I hope he has found some good stone and some good tools.

This is a portrait of my friend. Dave is a stone sculptor, and painter. His sculptures are in collections across America. I was inspired to paint this, while both of us attended a pow wow at the Saginaw Chippewa reservation, in Michigan, several years ago. I was honored to participate in a two person show with Dave, in August, 2009, at Delaware, Ohio.

Practice Copies of Old Master's Works

Although I haven't copied old masters works for quite some time, I did this one in order to test an amber varnish that I made. It is many layers thick, employing amber in each successive layer. I am sold on hard resins in painting mediums. The luminous qualities are, in my opinion, much different than when using modern resins. The amber I used in this one was from the Baltic region, and was obtained from Kremer. It was made by heat fusing the resin, or in effect running it. It was then combined with linseed oil, under high heat, and then cooked into more oil to make a medium. This was added in small quatities to the oil paint, in gradually increased amounts, with each layer. The light enters the surface, and as it is returns back out after striking gradually built up under layers, it creates a luminous effect that causes it to appear to glow from within.

Practice Copies of Old Master's Works

The above image is 16x20, and was painted in layers. I used Liquin as a medium. The colors were Cobalt blue, Prussian blue, Titanium white, ivory black, cadmium yellow, napthol red, and alizarin crimson. As with the painting below, it was based on a work by Sassoferrato. It was completed quite a few years ago, as a test to see how mediums behave in glazes. I must say that although alkyds can be quite useful, I sure like natural resins much better. The copies have taught me a great deal regarding layers, mediums, colors, glazing, scumbles, and patience. None are done exactly, nor treated or thought of as an original work of art.

As with the above image, this image is one that I have painted several times. It is a copy of a Sassoferrato. Although it is not exact, I like to paint this image when testing a new medium, as it permits me to see how each behaves in a full range of values, and in glazes.

In the past, I used the word amber to refer to both Baltic amber, and to hard copal resins. Although, upon just looking at the raw resin, they can appears simliar, they really are different materials, and create much different effects, when used in paint.

This is an oil painting 11x14 inches. In the underpainting, I used a medium containing oil of spike, and Canada balsam. I wanted a very smooth surface for the later paint layers, and this medium worked wonderfully. For later layers, I used copal, employing slightly greater amounts of linseed oil, with each sucessive layer. I also added a color called Stil de grain, to the varnish, in very small amount, to create a slight patina. Rather than purchase this color (stil de grain) as a separate color, it can easily be mixed by combining something such as Winsor and Newton's Indian yellow, with a touch of raw umber. That way the colors are much more versatile, and can be used for other purposes as well. The copal worked wonderfully, and in the end, although the picture doesn't convey it, it created an enamel like hard glassy surface similar to those I have seen by Flemish masters, in quite a few museums. This is much different than the surfaces produced by alkyd mediums. In the end, I applied a very thin layer of amber varnish, over the entire surface. Several drops, which were subsequently spread out super thin, over the entire surface.