Now the egg tempera pieces are starting to become more complex. This one still has some basic “abstract” shapes but the importance of chiaroscuro in the foreground is becoming more pronounced. This one took me more time, so also more patience while it challenged my skills. For example, achieving the dark black area on the left is already difficult in egg tempera. The medium itself is translucent, the brush strokes dry almost immediately upon contact with the gesso and thick impasto strokes are inadvisable for technical reasons, so blending just isn’t an option. Achieving a field of an extremely dark value or saturated hue then requires the build up of countless layers of light washes. It’s a very meditative technique. You have to love it. Impetuous temperaments, be forewarned: don’t even think about scaling this mountain. You can read a description of the full project here.
I completed this panel, #46, in the egg tempera series yesterday. It was an intriguing piece to paint since I was applying lightly tinted washes over an already sculpted pastiglia surface – that had also received its preparatory black and white underdrawing in india ink. So in one sense, I had my work already cut out for me. But in another sense I had colors to coordinate and to balance, as well as textures to enhance. Compositionally, the design of the piece is quite strong, an almost white, emphatic vertical thrust on the left (the leg of my linen pants) which needs to balance with a series of tinted trapezoids (floor tiles) on the right. Luckily, there was some drapery top left whose hues and values echo some of the shapes on the right. The pastiglia quickly and easily enhanced the chiaroscuro I wanted to add to my pants leg. I’m happy: this stands alone and, I think, will integrate well in the final assemblage. You can read a description of the full project here.
Here is #51, next in the egg tempera series. It’s an abstract design (of a section of a plastered wall) that, at first, had seemed deceptively easy. But, in fact, the area of gray and white depicted on the far left required integration, that is, it stood out like a sore thumb until I had supplied a light echo to it on the bottom, right. They say a missing word can cause a poem to bleed. I find the same is true of a painting – no matter what the subject matter. Alternatively – when it’s successful – a work of art is driven by its own inner unity, to which the artist must kneel. An overview of the whole project can be read here.
Third now in the egg tempera series on the left. This one went rather quickly mostly because the pastiglia and underdrawing had already done their homework. I created some light washes for the background, applied some of the architectural shadows and then had fun drawing in the back section of the woman’s head on the left. The pastiglia had already sculpted her hair, so the brush strokes picked up that texture quite easily.
You can read an overview about the whole project here.
*Note: the photograph of the panel is the best I could do given my skills and lighting conditions since extremely light pastel shades are notoriously difficult to reproduce. Trust me, the original is more luminous. 🙂
I have been doing underdrawings for the other panels (of this big 64 panel project that you can read about here) earlier this week, thus yesterday I was able to return to the egg tempera series. Here on the left then, is the second in that group. Strangely enough, I’ve been somewhat apprehensive about this one. For the source image is a plastered wall covered with a light warm yellow wash of paint. Otherwise, not much there. Boring. So the challenge was how to reproduce that well enough so as to integrate the panel into the final assembled painting but also create something that could stand alone as an image for the roving eye to enjoy.
In this case, I was able to press a few “new” tools into service as you will see on the left: an extremely fine mesh cosmetic sponge for the very light tonal washes (bottom, right), a calligrapher’s brush for the local washes and a tooth brush for the gray speckles. I’m pretty pleased with the result.
Here on the left is the first in a long 64 part series, now officially “off the press”. A full description of the whole project is on my companion wordpress web-blog site, atelierartisanal.com. So in all these panels I want to create a painting – interesting and hopefully beautiful in its own right – separate from any recognizable form either I or the viewer might want to impose. These are then, all abstract paintings (which in fact are based on close-up sections of a photograph). Thus aesthetically, I am trying to pay attention to: composition (the play of light and the tensions inherent to the already given shapes); color (the contrasts and relations of hues); paint (areas of opacity and translucency); texture (the tactile qualities of the paint, collage, or pre-sculpting); value (highlights, shadows and everything in-between). And though I am interested in reproducing the original image, I’m not interested in absolute fidelity (as, for example, a Photorealist might be). Dissonances can and should arise. Therefore, most designs are transposed free hand – not mechanically. And relative to this image, you can read more about the low-relief sculpting process of pastiglia here.