Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Killer on the Road: Part Two

Yes, that is a partially completed painting on a jerry rigged easel. Hey, if Albert Pinkham Ryder can paint on the back of a chair using shoe polish for paint and Picasso can draw on a table cloth I can certainly use a home built easel. Plus, it only cost ten bucks, while a good store bought easel would cost over $100, and fancier ones require a mortgage. Money I'd rather spend on paint. (But if you feel sorry for me, feel free to donate some green to the get Brady a real easel fund. Or better yet, buy some art.)

Okay, on with the painting. Yes I know this is a little further along than a blank newly primed chunk of MDF but I got to this point before I reminded myself that I was going to do this post. After wrapping my mind around the shape and size of my surface, I laid out my paints. I paint mainly with primary colors plus black and white. Working with a limited palette does two things. First it teaches me how to mix any color, and secondly it makes sure that my colors will all work together and I won't have an unusually contrasting color that doesn't fit with the painting as a whole.

My paint of choice is Alkyd. Alkyd is a resin modified oil paint that makes all the different colors dry at the same rate. If you've ever painted with oils you know that some colors can take weeks to dry, like white. With Alkyds I can paint quicker and not have to worry about storing a wet painting for months, worrying if something is going to smear it. Alkyds also have the advantage that they are usually dry to the touch within a couple of days.

I've been thinking about making a red and grey painting for weeks, so the first thing I do is brush a large red splotch across the board about where the sky should be. Next, I fill in the top with black and begin roughly mixing them together on the surface. After I get it looking like I want it, I take a fan brush and lightly, with super fast wrist action, blend the whole thing together to remove some of the brush marks of the coarser brush.

At this point I have to decide where the city is going to be and the white area behind it. I use my palette knife to scrape away the sky area where I want the white and use a paper towel to wipe as much red paint off as I can. (Painting is extremely paper towel intensive. I go through a roll on just about every painting.)

Next I have to paint in the white, but through experience I know that it will turn pink if I just use straight white from the tube. So, to make the white stick to, but not blend with the red underneath I have to mix it with a little bit of paint thinner. After gingerly applying the white paint over the red, so as not to dig into it and make pink. I end up with an arch of white against a red and black sky.

I'm not exactly happy with this but I push ahead and grab a small clean brush and use it, and several paper towels, to scrape away the white paint as I block in the shapes of the city. Then I mix several colors of grey, some with a little blue, some without, some with some blue and yellow. Then I paint the basic buildings.

When I get to this point I want to figure out where the road and fields are going, so I take some white paint and rough in the general shape of the road. But that white arch is annoying me.

So I take a big flat brush and start to blend the arch. This is not an easy task, since on one side I have very wet buildings, that if I run into will make the white grey or the buildings white, neither one a desirable outcome. And on the other side, I have a red sky that is also wet and threatening to make it a pink arch. I finally come up with an almost Cezanne type brush stroke of dabbing that makes the arch blend in with the sky, and yet remain white behind the city. And yes I did have to go back and fix the buildings a couple of times.

I'll continue this next time since this has gotten way too long. This had several steps in it, I expect the other posts to be far shorter.

(To be continued.)

No comments: