Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to the easel

With my mother safely at home and out of the hospital, I more than felt the need to decompress. I'm still worried as hell for her but I know that it's just way too much medical knowledge floating around in my head. I knew exactly what I needed to force myself to do today. I needed to get back in front of my easel.

When I was a teenager my parents bought me an easel. It's a simple A-frame easel that probably ran them a few hundred dollars back in the 90's. It's a great little easel. To be honest, I have no idea why they bought it. I never painted at home. Ever. But, being the pack rats they are, they never threw the thing away. So now it's over 20 years later and here I am back into painting and here it is in use again! The down side? (Other than the fact that they'll use this as an excuse to hold onto everything)

This type of easel was not designed for small panels and boards. It's meant to hold stretched canvases and not small canvases either. While wandering around many of the blogs I've found on Daily Paintworks, I came across the Altereasel! What a dream come true! Before I was wedging the board between the rims of the easel slots. Push the brush too hard? The board would pop out like a cork. This easel has completely changed all that. I love it, love it, love it!

My father is an avid gardener. He always has been. I was raised on organic produce before anyone knew what the hell that was. These are two giant beefsteak tomatoes straight from his garden. Although, I think he originally intended me to eat them.

These things have been an excellent exercise in squinting. The rubbery skins and red color make discerning value difficult. In the past, I would constantly mix color with my brushes. I'd mix enough for a couple of brush strokes and then have to remix. It didn't seem to matter much when I was a kid, but it seems like a waste of effort now. So this time, since I knew the predominant color of this painting, I mixed my colors in four values. It took a lot of testing before I got the hues to my liking. In fact, I painted the whole damned tomatoes four times. I am so proud of myself for wiping away this painting as many times as I have.

It's something valuable I learned in my recent art class... you can wipe it away. So that's what I kept doing. I drew in the tomatoes and I didn't like how high they were on the panel. I wiped it away. I redrew them but something wasn't right about the left tomato. I wiped it away. I redrew the left one, something was wrong again on the right. I wiped the whole thing and started again. I mixed up 4 colors, a dark, a light and two mid-tones. I painted the two tomatoes with it. I really liked the red color. I thought they looked beautiful and red and something was wrong. The red was too cool. I stared good and hard at them. I realized, I was trying to paint what I knew. I knew the color on my palette was red and tomatoes are red. Right? Wrong. I took a good solid look at the mid-tones and realized these tomatoes are slightly under ripe. They're leaning more towards orange and yellow and even a green tinge in some spots. It took three remixes of my colors until I got this result. I think the color is spot on now. There is still much to be done with this painting and I wouldn't consider it done yet. But I am very very happy with it so far!

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