Category Archives: MODE

Artworks in this category are listed according to their subject matter – or not.

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!

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #60, oils

A Piece of Me #60, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #60, underdrawing over collage.

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #60, oil on panel over collage. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Second in the new series of panels executed exclusively in oil. The underdrawing on the right shows not only the layout of the design but also its intentional graphical harshness. It’s supposed to be that way! You want that firmness, those hard lines and clear contrasts. Then the oil level enhances, softens and sensuously mitigates these things – see left.

Thus, after the yellow imprimatura and the underdrawing dried, I started with the oil level. I covered the whole surface with a clear medium and after fifteen minutes wiped it off. The medium created a slightly tacky surface for working wet-in-wet, painting impasto paint into the clear glaze. I began by developing the highlights and quarter tones on the left first, then the strong shadow areas on the right. My goal was to cover the entire panel, to finish it in one working session. I reserved the strongest shadows and highlights for the end. Using the dry fan brush I could softly blend adjacent areas into one another without smearing. One of my favourite activities!

I’m pleased with the level of detail/interest in the shadows. The impasto paint there is not so thick so as to obscure the ground. And there is enough variation to allow the eye to wander. I did have to contend with the collage: the tip of the shoe on the right edge protrudes maybe two or three millimetres? It’s very tactile but difficult to paint. The side-lit photograph in the top spotlight (online display only ) illumines its 3D aspect. Some of the strong highlights you see in the photograph are not paint but rather fugitive reflections.

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 ".

A Piece of Me #55, oils

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 ".

A Piece ofMe #55, oil on linen mounted on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 “.

Finally the home stretch. This then is the first of twelve final panels: all panels in this series will be executed exclusively in oil on an oil ground. This particular panel was painted on linen mounted on panel previous to the application fo the oil ground. All these slight variations in pre-treatment to the grounds mean that there will always be a slightly different relationship between the ground and the application of the paint.

Additionally, because this is an oil ground it’s not receptive to the india ink that I used for the underdrawings in the egg tempera, mixed technique and/or encaustic panels. In those cases the ground was a traditional chalk gesso, which is water based and also very absorbent. So I had to switch to a heavily diluted black oil paint for my underdrawings. The imprimatura too, was a heavily diluted yellow ochre. And after both of these treatments I had to let the panel dry for a few days.

However, because I had laid in this groundwork, the thicker oil level proceeded quickly. It took just one working session to develop the main forms and textures – although I did have to let that dry before painting in the final contrasts. When using an indirect technique for oil in this way means that the waiting times are not for impatient temperaments. I’m pretty chill, but even so I do chafe at the bit sometimes. 😉

A Piece of Me #13, encaustic on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #13, encaustic

A Piece of Me #13, india ink underdrawing

A Piece of Me #13, india ink underdrawing

A Piece of Me #13, encaustic on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #13, encaustic on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

This is the final panel of the encaustic series. It’s been an interesting journey dipping my toes back into melted wax. I’ve learned a number of new tips and tricks, many of which are best summarised in my recent post on my companion website atelierartisanal.com.  I also have understood how important it is to protect my own health. The fumes arising from the melted varnish (which is combined with the beeswax to create the medium) are bad enough but then you also need to avoid oxidizing whatever solvent you may be using – even so called “bio-solvents”. By the end I was wearing a vapour mask from outer space as well as goggles. No gloves or hazmat suit, though. 😉

Thematically this panel was an important one: one-quarter of my face, plus part of the neck and shirt of the lady standing behind me. I had left it for the end, knowing the subtlety that would be required for those precious skin tones. And even though I did have an electrified painting nib, I did not use it(!). Instead I discovered that small bright bristle brushes (held together by a metal ferrule), could be warmed on the palette so that the paint would retain its fluidity a few seconds longer. Of course, this tended to destroy the bristle brushes but it is well known that encaustic eats brushes. So I just buy plenty of cheap bristles and throw them away when death is nigh.

I am pleased with the way the skin tone shaped up. Lots of small strokes which allowed the green underpainting to poke through here and there. That mottling became contrasted to the long strokes of black for my shirt, blue for the lady’s shirt or the waves of the linen jacket. I used  my electrified drawing nib for all the fine, linear details. See for example my necklace. In the end it reads well and I am happy to move on the fifth and final series of this overall project: oil.