24th June 2006
This is the last of the ten pairs of objects series.
For this one I indulged myself and did a larger painting over 6 days. AlthoughI’m not entirely happy with it, there are things about it I like, and I learned from it.I didn’t have time to do a write up of this painting when I did it, and now, fourpaintings later, it’s drifting into past history and I’m no longer interested enough in itto write it up.
However, for reasons which escape me now, I did keep a diary of it as it progressed, so hereit is unedited, for what it’s worth. I’ve included some of the progress shots I took along the way.
Diary of a Still Life
- 05:00 – Get up.
- 06:00 – Start setting up still life and easel with plumb line.
- 07:00 – Start drawing out painting, working sight size.
- 08:30 – Realise composition is unbalanced, rub out and start again. Drop sight sizebecause too close to easel for it to work – perspective distortion. Measure by markingtop of bow & relate measurements to that.
- 12:00 – Stop for lunch, get stuff for tea (Lamb gigot chops) and to refresh eyes. Take photo.
- 14:00 – Eyes refreshed, realise drawing is wrong. Rub out and start again. Think about isolatingground for next series of paintings because ground is getting disturbed by the turps. Pick pointfrom top of bow to crease on fabric which matcheslength of brush (Cornelissen kolinsky sable round 5). Line up eye and brush with this measurementevery time a new measurement is taken.
- 17:00 – Break. Take photo.
- 17:30 – Start working again.
- 18:30 – Michelle comes home. Stop to cook dinner.
- 06:00 – Get up
- 07:00 – Start painting, make some corrections to the drawing.
- 08:30 – Drawing out finished. Take photo. Start laying shadows. Too dark initially, lighten.Realise that shadows too light can be fixed later, shadows too dark can’t.
- 11:00 – Stop, have to get on with some work. Take photo.
- 16:00 – Bit more fiddling with the shadows.
- 17:00 – Stop to cook dinner.
- 06:30 – Get up (slept in.) Feeling a bit rough, tired with a mild headache.
- 07:00 – Start. Tighten up some of the shadow glazes on the cloth wherethe form isn’t working. Take photo.
- 08:00 – Start laying down colour on the body of the fiddle.
- 10:00 – Stop for a cuppa. Take Photo.
- 11:00 – Start again. Lay down some opaque colour for dark and white cloth. It wentkind of impressionist at this point due to lack of patience.
- 12:00 – Stop to go into town and get supplies from Cornelissen, to check out someRubens paintings at the National and to see the BP portrait award. Rubens paintingsvery moving, despite looking mainly at technique. “Samson and Delilah”glows with light. Realise paintings here were done with streaked ochre ground, notwith the streaked grey ground I’ve read about in Doerner’s book. Spend some timein the Rembrandt room too. NPG closed by the time I get there.
- 06:30 – Get up.
- 07:00 – Start painting. Scrape back paint on dark cloth with palette knife. Nicetexture, seems to help the light. Thinking about how loose the Rubens and Rembrandtpaintings were, except on the focus areas – the faces and the figures. The fiddle ismy face, a portrait of the fiddle. Thinking about how best to handle the dark cloth,and about the focus of the painting. Feeling stressed and tired, worrying about business,money, but inspired by the paintings in the National Gallery. Try to forget it andfocus on the painting. Take photo.
- 11:30 – Stop for break, after doing more work on fiddle and tones of shadows of darkcloth. Bow has been worked into more. Take photo. Decide to work onmatching colours of background cloth more closely next. Shadow glazes are too warm,distracting from the warm wood of the fiddle.
- 1:30 – Start again – work on background cloth.
- 15:30 – Stop for a break. Take photo. Sun has come in the window, this might be itfor today unless it clouds over again. The background cloth almost ran away from me,but was exhilerating to paint. Tired but feel a bit better. May finish tomorrow hopefully.
- Have to work today, probably won’t be painting.
- 10:00 I changed my mind. Can’t resist the painting, might be able to squeeze in acouple of hour’s work. Start working more on the dark cloth. There’s something verywrong with the drawing, the board the fiddle is sitting on is at the wrong angle.How could I get it so wrong and not notice at the time? It’s not affecting thepainting much though I don’t think. Maybe the combination of the central plumbline and relational measuring threw it out. Maybe I just got it wrong.
- 11:30 – Stop. More work isn’t really going to change the painting now, andI think I’ve learned enough from it. Now it’s getting to be time to move on tothe next series and start pumping them out again. I’ve spent too long on this one.I’ll leave it to dry a little more then finish the details on the fiddle tomorrowand move on. If I overwork it now it’ll run away from me, I’ll get lost in it, andfrustration will set in. Once the strings and tuners have gone on the fiddle andthe bow is finished I’ll call the painting done. Take photo. Go into town later tosee the BP portrait award show. Some excellent paintings, but overall disappointed.
- 10:30 – Time to get this painting wrapped up, I want to start the new seriestomorrow. Start by putting the details in on the bow, then move onto the tailpiece.Don’t want to overwork it at this stage, or get too obsessed with the details.Overall it’s working, but I know now the painting has problems, with the drawing,with the tones and therefore with the light. More detail won’t fix matters. It’simportant now to move on. The next series of paintings are already taking shapein my head and I’m eager to get started on them.
- 13:00 – Stop. Think I might be finished. Go make a cuppa to refresh my eyes.After a few small adjustments I decide it’s finished.
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