Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A big painting calls for a big brush. Unfortunately, a big brush also calls for more time to wash out all of the pigment when it's time to clean up.
My studio feels very crowded because I am trying to work on several pieces concurrently in order to have everything ready for my show beginning January 16th.
An easy way for me to mix the color I want: I squeeze out two stripes of Prussian Blue for every stripe of Burnt Umber.
This painting needs a large, dark background that I have to apply in layers if I want to create a sense of depth. I'm planning to apply at least five more thin layers. Since each layer takes about a day to dry, this segment of the painting process requires patience on my part--an attribute I find harder and harder to maintain as the deadline for my show gets nearer and nearer.
While I wait for the background to dry I can mix the colors I will need for the landscape.
Ahh, a blank canvas, a clean glass palette, and a tidy taboret -- all I need now is coffee . . .
. . . and some preparatory sketches. Oh, there they are!
Before starting to put paint on canvas, I find it helpful to do some drawing to better understand what I want to see in the finished painting. For me, more than any other medium, drawing with graphite is a way of knowing. If I can draw it, then I can understand it. The painting I am currently working on includes a crater. For inspiration, I looked through images posted on NASA's website of the surface of Mars. There I found a beautiful panorama of the "Santa Maria" crater assembled from photographs taken by the rover Opportunity in December 2010.
Using the panorama image as a guide, I made a drawing on three feet by five feet tracing paper to define the overall shape of my crater. Next I built a small model using a shallow plastic container, cardboard, aluminum foil, and spray paint. I sculpted the contours of the rim of the aluminum foil crater to match the contours of the large drawing. Finally, I made several small graphite drawings of the aluminum foil model, lit by the studio lamp on my drafting table, in order to better understand how shadows fall across the crater.
This process helps me see the connections between three-dimensional form and the two-dimensional world used to represent it. It also helps me understand the basic structure of forms in three-dimensional space (I should say four-dimensional space-time!) so that I understand how to create my own worlds in two-dimensions.