Author Archives: ellentrezevant

About ellentrezevant

I'm an artisanal painter living in Bruges Belgium. My work is figurative in the big picture and abstract in the details.

A Piece of Me #05, oil on panel over cotton. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #05, oils

Underdrawing for A Piece of Me #05.

Underdrawing for A Piece of Me #05.

A Piece of Me #05, oil on panel over cotton. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #05, oil on panel over cotton. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

I can’t believe it, but this panel marks the end of the line. It’s the final oil panel as well as the final panel in the whole project of sixty-four. Soon begins the work of mounting and assembling. And from there, tweaking decisions. I am expecting and welcoming a certain amount of visual dissonance but I also know that (just like in American politics) too much dissonance can destroy the unitive vibration of the whole. So there may be some changes to make? We’ll see. But for now there’s cause to celebrate! The champagne is in the fridge. It’s been almost two years.

So again, this was the last panel. One quarter of my face. For those of you who have been following this project you will remember that in any particular medium I tend to leave the more important/challenging panels for the last. I begin with the abstract compositions, then proceed to the body parts compositions, then the complex figurative groupings, leaving my face (which was cut up into four sections) for the last.

To render this panel I began with the underdrawing in pen and ink over a yellow imprimatura. See above, right. Then I covered the face area with an underpainting of terra verte (green) and let it dry. After a few days I laid in a  clear glaze and set to work, moving from background to foreground. There was: the back wall, two heads of hair and one face. After three hours of work I had achieved what I was looking for – a rendering of the forms with spontaneity and freshness. I’ll leave it to dry and see if anything else begs for my attention. But I’m pleased with what I have so far. If I make further changes they will be small ones.

A Piece of Me#30, oil over acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #30, oils

Underdrawing over yellow ochre imprimatura for A Piece of Me #30.

Underdrawing over yellow ochre imprimatura for A Piece of Me #30.

A Piece of Me#30, oil over acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me#30, oil over acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Wow, sculptured texture. Twice. This panel is a celebration of the painting knife. It all began on the preparation phase. I applied an acrylic modelling paste to the lightly primed panel. (The design had already been transferred.) I started with the rear tiles and worked my way forward, the fabric folds and my beloved leather handbag. At that level it was white on white: a polar bear in a snow storm (toting a handbag).

After that dried, I covered the panel with a light yellow ochre imprimatura, and transferred the design (once again), this time to lay in the underdrawing (see above right). I find as I work on these panels, in acrylic, encaustic and (pure) oil, that the hard lines of the pen nib are much preferable to the light washes created  by a brush. Both can render a design and set up formal values, but the nib sets up texture in such a way that a few covering strokes can soften but not eliminate them. Nice! Egg tempera and the mixed technique – as media – do not possess the covering power needed to soften this harshness, so it’s necessary to use washes for the underdrawing.

Underpainting for A Piece of Me #30, oil on panel over pre-sculpted acrylic modelling paste. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in..

Underpainting for A Piece of Me #30, oil on panel over pre-sculpted acrylic modelling paste. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in..

During my first painting session (see second image, right) and after a few hour’s work I had introduced the main colours of the compositional forms. Overall, it looked good but was too coarse, light and sketchy. Something more was needed. But what? I let it dry for about a week as I wondered.

Then yesterday after detailing the tiles, my linen jacket and glazing the lady’s blue shirt with some ultramarine blue, I decided to bring that blue glaze into the purse. Everything darkened in a nice way but now there was nothing left to do but reclaim that beautiful russet glow of the leather with the painting knife. I spread on burnt sienna, just like buttering toast. A delicious bodily opacity emerged. Oh yeah, this is going in a good direction. Then I had to dig out the highlights and shadows describing the form now buried under this avalanche. I added detail where needed, letting the form tell me what to do. (See above left as well as the spotlighted image in the online view of this post.) It took me about an hour, but wow, just as dinner was ready, I was satisfied, ready to surrender to different kind of knife.

A Piece of Me #15 oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #15, oils

A Piece of Me #15 oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #15 oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Underdrawing for A Piece of Me #15.

Underdrawing for A Piece of Me #15.

The original photographic image which was cut up into 64 sections for rendering separately contained a horizontal background swathe consisting of groups of small tourist figures receding into the far distance. So there ended up being five panels containing these figural groupings as well as the architectural backgrounds behind them. Because of the need to employ a sliding scale of finely tuned (gray) values to describe these distances, rendering these panels (in any medium) is proving to be one of the most challenging tasks of this whole project.

This panel then was no exception. I worked on it yesterday and a few hours today. In general, I’m happy now with the hues and the values that have been established. The distance reads well enough. There is a red/green complimentary colour contrast, too. I’m posting it now as a beta version. After it dries I intend to clean up some passages that became muddy. When that’s done (and I’m satisfied) I’ll update this page.

Another interesting challenge was my decision to change the hue for the guard-rail (that you see in front of the girl in the dark green sweater). In the original photograph it’s a bright viridian green, but since that guard-rail is the only element in the whole photograph requiring such a pigment – and because on this panel I wanted to create more distinction between the figure and the rail in front of her, I switched the hue to an olive-green. That means I’ll need to do some additional tweaking on two other guard-rail panels but that’s not a problem. Artistic license rules.

A Piece of Me #10 oil on panel over pre-sculpted relief. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #10, oils

Underdrawing over yellow ochre imprimatura for A Piece of Me #10.

Underdrawing over yellow ochre imprimatura for A Piece of Me #10.

A Piece of Me #10 oil on panel over pre-sculpted relief. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #10 oil on panel over pre-sculpted relief. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

This panel has been one of my favourites from the get-go. Back then I was pleasantly surprised by the serendipitous composition. Foreground, middle-ground and background all very well stated in a figurative sort of way. It felt like a comic strip panel from Archie and Jughead, evoking an untold story.

The call out for the panel then was oil over low sculpted relief. I prepared that relief with GOLDEN acrylic modelling paste, then primed it with a few layers of oil based (lead white) gesso and let that cure. (That curing turned out to be almost one year!). Not my  intention, just, what happened.

To begin I covered the whole panel with glaze, let it dry fifteen minutes and wiped it off. The surface was slightly tacky, receptive. Then I started painting, wet-in-wet. I began with the background primarily as gray values, progressing forward to the stronger, definitive, more colourful statements. Although I prefer to work with as limited a palette as possible, this particular panel required all the usual earth tones plus the main primary colours. I’ve included a photo of the palette below – just for fun. BTW: red and green are complimentary colors, which in their natural saturated state, are also of a similar value. So together they always create an interesting vibration in a painting. The two shirts of the two men then in this panel presents no exception.

The whole project took me about four to five hours to do. That’s longer than usual, but these panels with a more complex composition tend to require that. Nevertheless, I was happy to set my work aside and call it done when the dinner bell rang. Another curry for a hungry artist.

Palette for A Piece of Me #10

Palette for A Piece of Me #10

 

A Piece of Me #25, oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #25, oils

A Piece of Me #25, underdrawing.

A Piece of Me #25, underdrawing.

A Piece of Me #25, oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #25, oil on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

The challenge on this panel was simply dimensionality. The man’s pants and sweater were both quite dark, so it was difficult to read where the fabric folds and shadows were. Of course, I could guess a bit, given its placement relative to the whole image, but in any case, I wanted to create interest and motion there. So I introduced that in the underdrawing. See the image to the right.

Thus on the oil level I had three basic shapes to render: the ledge, the pants and the sweater. I rendered the pants in dark gray and reserved black only for the creases and deepest shadow accents. Same with the sweater, two tints of dark green accentuated by dark gray and/or black for the deepest creases/shadows. As it turns out, the buttons on his pants piqued the interest, interrupting an otherwise monovalumatic field of grey (hey, I just created a word!). BTW: those buttons were created by removing paint so as to expose the substrate rather than adding white back in on top (which I avoid whenever possible). It’s one of my pet-painting-peeves.

A Piece of Me #20, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #20, oils

A Piece of Me #20, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #20, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #20, underdrawing over collage..

A Piece of Me #20, underdrawing over collage..

Collage on panel. What can I say? These kinds of panels go quickly. The oil level took me just two hours. Sometimes I think I should put more time into them on the final stages but then I remember how much time I put into getting the collages right, so I don’t.

This time around I did the underdrawing slightly differently though (pictured to the right). The panel posed a further challenge after resolving the underdrawing adhesion issues that I had had earlier. That’s because I didn’t want to create a large cross-hatched value using a pen nib for the black shirt area. instead I wanted to set in a darker wash quickly and easily, plus I knew the collage with its uneven surfaces would present challenges to a pen nib, anyway. So I mixed up a thin wash of mars black oil paint and laid it in with a brush. After a few days of drying time it helped me to achieve a dark, undulating mass rather quickly.

The linen jacket to the left required the most “effort”. I put that in scare quotes because it’s actually a process of discovery which, though it does take time, does not feel like work. The reason being that because the collaged shapes did not entirely match the highlights and shadows of the jacket folds in the original design, I had to do some tweaking. In the end I’m really happy with how it turned out. It reads quite well and I think will pair nicely with its neighbours in the final assemblage.

A Piece of Me #45, oil on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #45, oils

Continuing with the series of oil panels in which (I’m hoping that) the underdrawing will be able to remain fully functional through its superimposed layers. Earlier, in the first four oil panels, I had some technical difficulties (now resolved). They were not show stoppers but they did set me back to the drawing board more than a little bit.  If interested you can read about it here.

A Piece of Me #45, underdrawing in pen and ink (a mars black oil paint diluted to a dense yet flowable consistency).

A Piece of Me #45, underdrawing in pen and ink (a mars black oil paint diluted to a dense yet flowable consistency).

A Piece of Me #45, oil on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #45, oil on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

This panel then began with a strong pen and ink underdrawing over an already imprimatura-ed wash of yellow ochre diluted oil paint. I had such success with the yellow ochre as a staring point for my acrylic and encaustic panels, I decided to keep with it for the oil series. See right.

Similar to the last oil panel (#35) this was a relatively simple composition. There were three items to consider, the tip of my linen jacket above right, my white pants legs right and left and the intervening shadow. As with the last one, I glazed in the shadow and then followed it up with passages of opaque paint. The main challenge though was creating a visual distinction between the two linens, the white pants and the oatmeal jacket. Both had shadow and volume play to create interest. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. The forms are pretty delicious. Had to stop and eat lunch though instead of chowing down on it: the curry just had to be more nutritious 😉

A Piece of Me #35, oil on panel over linen. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #35, oils

A Piece of Me #35. Underdrawing in pen and ink (diluted black oil paint).

A Piece of Me #35. Underdrawing in pen and ink (diluted black oil paint).

A Piece of Me #35, oil on panel over linen. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #35, oil on panel over linen. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A simple composition executed on a panel pre-treated with linen. The underdrawing (to the right) laid out the basic design, the oil level (to the left) gave the forms dimension. So, for forms: there was my linen jacket on the right, casting its shadow against the lightly coloured plaster wall on the left. That’s it.

The shadow area in the middle took shape rather quickly with a glaze of raw umber. I liked the tonality but the cross hatching of the underdrawing was too visible, so I added some white to my umber and worked back in passages of opaque paint. Much better. As much as I love glazing (and I do!) it’s equally important to balance it with passages of opacity.

The linen jacket was pure pleasure to render, softly dabbing in light and shadow, accentuating its dimensionality so that it almost completed itself. In painting, in creation, there is a point where the form starts to take shape as if by itself. As form-giver, you need to remain especially attentive, listening to what is happening on the page/panel, asking for what else is needed. Strengthening (or modulating) contrasts, tightening up (or softening) edges, adjusting hues. The light yellow wall on the left, for example, was quick work but adding in those spots (freckles) gave this wide open area just that little bit of extra.

A Piece of Me #50, oil over pre textured acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #50, oils

A Piece of Me #50, oil over pre textured acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #50, oil over pre textured acrylic modeling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #50, the original photograph.

A Piece of Me #50, the original photograph.

Texture, texture and more texture. This panel was created with the painting knife, either during the modelling-paste-pre-painting-sculpting phase or during the painting phase, with thick slabs of light pastel coloured paint.

The grey areas were dug out from the paste as well as the paint in the attempt to mimic the cement behind the lightly coloured plastered wall. I don’t have a photograph of the underdrawing phase (was there even one??) so I’ll use this rare occasion to post the original photograph.

Except for the captions, can you tell the difference?

A Piece of Me #40, oil over collage on panel. 21 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #40, oils

A Piece of Me #40, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #40, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #40, oil over collage on panel. 21 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #40, oil over collage on panel. 21 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

This panel had some particular challenges to it, both of which were my own creation. The first problem came from the lack of alignment of my collaged panel (created more than one year ago during the preparation phase) to my black and white transposed design. Although (I thought) I had used the same transfer process, my alignment was off by a few millimetres. Well, OK, I’ll live with that, knowing the texture of oil paint can mask things to a certain degree and also that I’m open to whatever happens in this multimedia process of creation. The only real accidents are lack of adhesion or longevity.

The second problem occurred with the absorbency of the black paint tinted underdrawing. Even after three or four days, it’s adhesion to the ground appeared to be insufficient. Parts of it came off when I used my kneaded eraser to erase the charcoal transfer lines (it was too heavily diluted). Since it’s an underdrawing this too is not a fatal error. Nevertheless I did go into this one with some caution, not sure I would be able to salvage it.

The photograph of the completed panel above left is side lit, so the textural pentementi of the misaligned collage are visible. Those (misaligned) highlights are visually fugitive so they don’t really bother me. Additionally, the lighter-than-I would-wish-for underdrawing did not pose a huge threat, either. I compensated by drawing in the white grouting lines for the blue tiles with white lead paint as an underpainting and let it dry. After a few days I was good to go. Thus, in this piece (and the whole project) I am not out to create perfection, but rather, a visually and tactilely attractive assemblage that ultimately will invite the viewer to unify for themselves. And hopefully experience aesthetic pleasure in doing so!