Imprimatura – yellow

Working on a colored ground (a glaze of pigment over the otherwise white board) is helping me to keep my paint loose, my brushstrokes more fluid, and making it easier to concentrate on the form. I generally use a uniform gray, but after reading about the working habits of Giotto and van Eyck, I decided to try a selection of very bright primary colors. This is the first painting in this series:

Yellow imprimatura, underpainting

18 x 24″, oil on board

The set-up is heavy on bright greens and dark red, balanced by the off-white muslin drapery and tarnished silver pieces. The yellow ground should brighten the darks and influence the lighter colors – we’ll see! Here is a detail of crabapples on the salver:

Crab apples, underpainting

Drawings, work in progress

Our new studio space allows me to work on more that one piece at once. I like having drawings stacked against the wall, and the ability to switch pieces out to let the paint set up on one while mixing a whole new palette of colors for the next. It is immensely satisfying to have inventory! (I know I’m coming to this late, folks, really late.)

Right now I have a painting of a milk-glass vase with zinnias and asters in full swing, but I can also look at the previous oil sketch (same composition) and the charcoal and ink-wash drawing (slightly different viewpoint) for reference. AND, the painting is just so much easier having worked out my issues with aster construction in a previous piece. Not that the asters are smooth sailing even now – it’s rather too bad they grow so well in my garden because they are incredibly complicated.

This is the oil sketch: ivory black on tinted ground, 24 x 18 inches:

oil sketch of asters and apples

Here’s a detail. Asters are complicated!

oil sketch detail

And this is the wash drawing on Bristol paper, 20 x 17, slightly different view of the setup:

Bristol board wash drawing

New work, new idiom

It has been a long three months of working through the idea of painting a background. My still life set-up area is not ideal; the hoop house walls are a plastic film that distorts colors and images behind it and my drapery arrangements are fixed as to height and weight. I’m getting more accomplished at setting up objects that relate to the structures they’re sitting on, but it’s all new to me – I’ve always been a big fan of “dump the oranges on to the table-top and paint them as they lay”. That philosophy (or lack of same) just isn’t working for me any more. I either need to move into Cezanne’s kitchen – where every view seems to be a paintable one – or I need to pay attention and integrate all the information available. The second choice seems more sustainable, but I’m not totally discounting the move to Paris.

New work under the new idiom, just dipping my toes in and painting the green and slippery tones that were really behind the set-up. Oil on board, 16″ x 20″, Roses in a Spanish Cup:

Roses in a Spanish Cup

New work in progress

It's all Holland's faultThis was going to be a post about arepas – delicious grilled arepas made with fresh corn and farmer cheese. But this is not that post. Instead, you’re getting an update on the drawing that has me burning midnight oil and still getting up at 5:30 a.m. for the day job. It’s a still life! With a view!

Mallow and the Causeway, 20″ x 16″, oil drawing on panel. I blame the Dutch.

 

New work

The finished version of Asters in a Wire Vase. Oil on panel, 20″ x 16″, and really, quite difficult. Went to see some N. C. Wyeth paintings at the Farnsworth in Rockland tonight, and came home all inspired toward a goal of less ambiguity, more narrative, cleaner lines, and possibly, more pirates.

Asters in a Wire Vase