Paintings executed exclusively in oils – without the use of egg tempera either as an underpainting or in an emulsified solution for painting. In such a case, the oil may be applied either indirectly through a series of layers or directly, that is, alla prima.
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 “.
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. 😉
Back in the 1970’s after graduating from college, I did a series of “puzzle paintings”. My idea at the time was to explore the different media that can be used to create painted images. So I made three at the time, and was preparing to create a fourth, when my direction (in art and in life) changed. So I packed up the little blocks that I had already had cut, and moved out west.
Some 35 years later I finally pulled those little blocks out of storage. I had already determined that, psychologically, this piecemeal approach to image creation worked best when applied to the human being, so when my friend, Anna, became seriously and unexpectedly ill, my choice of subject matter became clear. I was able to locate a photograph of her that I liked (secured the copyright permission from its owner to use it) and set to work. I used the mixed technique, encaustic, and egg tempera on small individual panels. Some were pre-treated with collage elements others were textured with a light relief, others were left untreated and simply gessoed. Each wooden piece measures 9 x 12.7 cm or 3 1/2 x 5 inches (that’s pretty small!). The assembled piece measures 44.5 x 63.5 cm or 17 1/2 x 25 inches. May 2011.