This week’s painting has two meanings – one semi-political and one very personal.
I don’t think I’m being particularly controversial when I say I’ve had enough of the rancor in American public life – from both sides. I know it’s not going away anytime soon. I also know we’ve been through much worse and will come out of this just fine.
All the same, it’s getting old, and a message of common purpose and simple unity – red AND white AND blue – is healthy to see once in a while. I had a good laugh when somebody looked at the painting in progress and said that if it was going to be political, it would need more nuts.
On the personal side, I’m incredibly fortunate to have both of my parents alive and relatively well, with all faculties intact. As they approach their 80th birthdays this year and next, I’ve been considering the way these very different people (polar opposites in some ways) have contributed to my own personality. I thought about tea being poured from both pots, and being mixed as one in the cup.
The Technical Side
“Unity” was done entirely from life (without use of photography). It is painted with oil on linen, which is mounted to a hardboard panel. The dimensions are 11×14 inches (27×35 cm). I worked with a straight-forward grisaille (black and white) underpainting. This was followed by a mixture of opaque paints and glazes on top of the underpainting.
It was kind of a rough road to finish this piece. I spent Monday and Tuesday doing a long-planned reorganization of my studio. By late Monday night it looked like somebody had tossed a hand grenade into the space, which was momentarily discouraging. However, by Wednesday morning I had a thoroughly clean studio that was much more suited to the way I work now. I think this painting reflects how much I enjoy the new setup.
A technical experiment with new product during the underpainting stage led to more delays. I tested a new oil which should have dried overnight, but in fact took about 48 hours to dry. The painting spent all day Friday under a heat lamp to help speed up the process, and I was only able to start the color layer on Saturday afternoon. I tried to use the time well, though; among other things I was able to write a longer article about my philosophy and techniques for underpaintings.
Getting the shape of the various ellipses was crucial to making this painting right. I was able to write a shorter post about one of the quick-and-dirty perspective tricks I used during the process.
If you’re interested in adding “Unity” to your collection, send me a message using the “Connect with Me” section on the sidebar to the right. Please bookmark my blog and watch for posts about this coming week’s painting.