13th June 2006
Number seven of the ten pairs of objects, and I’m back to my usual position right next the window, giving me stronger light.
After the Lemon and Bottle painting came out so thin, and with so much heavily textured ground showing through, I’d decided that this one was going to be thicker, obscuring much more of the ground.Thus the stronger light, and the relatively small amount of shadow area. Plus, of course,strawberries are small and don’t cast very big shadows.
The composition was kind of an experiment here too. Working sight-size means I can’tblow up the strawberries to fill the panel, so that means either a very smallpainting or two slightly lost looking little strawberries. This panel is one of myoff-cuts from when I prepared a bunch of panels for this series. It just seemed to suit,so I ended up with two lost little strawberries.
As with the Lemon and Bottle, I used the Roberson’s Oil Painting medium again for thispainting. Thisis definitely the last time I’ll be using it, unless of course I run out of every otherkind. Although there’s not much translucent shadow in this painting, the darkstrip at the top is painted with a translucent glaze with a high percentage of medium.On the finished painting, it stands out with a higher gloss finish that the rest of thepainting, which has the more satin finish of more neat paint.
I know that I can fixthat with varnish if I want, giving the painting a consistent finish, but I’m savinglearning about varnish for later inmy self-imposed curriculum. The Foxton atelier considers varnish to be less important atthis stage, since only good paintings are worth preserving for years to come. Inany case, the gloss finish and the faster drying time together are enough toput me off this medium, at least for the present. I know it’s properties now, so I canalways return to it if I want higher gloss and/or faster drying time from mymedium later.
No progress shots from today unfortunately. I admit I’m doing less of those now.At the risk of sounding pretentious, stopping to take photos disturbs the flow.It always takes me a little while to get back into the groove when I do that,and when I’m enjoying the painting it’s hard to stop.
But the set up was the same as usual. Looking down slightly on the strawberries meantraking theeasel forwards at a dangerous angle again, but if I want the angle of the easel tomatch the angle of the picture plane, there’s no other option. I just have to bevery careful not to knock over the easel while I’m painting.
As far as the palette goes, I had to use cadmium red today, and for the first timeI used no alizarin at all. When it came to painting the surface of the wooden plank, Ididn’t make myself mix the colour from my primaries. Since I’m roughing out with burntsienna and ultramarine, I already have a tube colour fairly close to the colourI want. I’m getting much better now at mixing the colours I want as I get moreexperience with it, so it seemslike bloody-mindedness to make myself continually mix the colour for this plank.After all, I’ve used the same plank for all these paintings where the objects aresitting on wood, so I’ve mixed this colour a few times now.
So today’s palette: Burnt sienna, ultramarine, cadmium yellow, cadmium red,pthalocyanine green (a very small amount of this, just for some shadow areas on the strawbs,)and flake white. I’m finding that sienna and ultramarine can give me a very dark tonewith a high percentage of ultramarine, and this painting is fairly light, so therewas no need for my usual pthalocyanine green and alizarin mixture to get black.
Today was another early start, I was setting up and deciding on composition at around7:00 am, and putting on the first dabs of paint by 8:00. The painting took about fours inall, so I was finished well before the direct sunlight started to invade the window.I love painting in the mornings. There’s a freshness and coolness to air at that time,and the world is still quiet. It’s hard not to feel positive under such pleasantconditions. Although I’ve always been a night person and a late riser, I find theearly mornings to be an especially nice time to work. Since I’ve been getting up earlier,I’ve discovered that it’s light enough to work now from 6:00 am onwards. Starting earlieralso means I can get well into the painting before there’s any danger of my web businessclients calling me and disturbing my little bubble of concentration. Although, to behonest, I’ve taken to turning off the mobile now when I’m painting.
Although the composition for this painting could be seen as being a littleunconventional and out of kilter, I think it turned out ok. The painting doesn’t look especiallyunbalanced to me. I must confess to a certain amount of indulgence in the position of thestrawberries though. When I was playing around with different positions for them, Ihit on this one, the one you see in the painting. What I like about it is the fact that thestalks of the two strawberries are almost touching, but not quite. That aspect was largely unconscious andhappened of it’s own accord, but I’m happy it’s there. It reminds me of the outstretchedfingers of God and Adams’ hands in that section of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. I’mnot going to try to stretch that metaphor too far, but it’s a nice little touch I think,and it still gives me a chuckle when I look at the painting.
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