I fininshed my first painting in the new studio in Naples. It is entitled “Looking to the Past”. It is a portrait of a young Native-American girl who was participating in a pow-wow ceremony in Houston. I was struck by her appearance. She was facing West and squinting into the sunset while all her tribal elders were looking East towards the arena where the ceremony was taking place. In a sense, painting her in the classical style is my own form of looking to the past. It would be easy and quick for me to paint an abstract version of the scene but I could only do her justice by painting her in the detailed and time-consuming classical Venetian method.
I completed the grisaille (pronounced ɡriˈzī) today. A grisaille is a monocrhome oil painting in shades of gray that helps to add depth to a painting. Next I will paint from darks to lights. Afterwards, I’ll add chroma or color.
I sprayed a matte retouching fixative on my charcoal drawing yesterday to hold the charcoal on the canvas. Then I painted over it a touch of a light transparent wash mixed with Van Dyke Brown oil paint diluted with Gamsol. The idea is to create a tea stain over the sprayed charcoal to hold my drawing in place. Otherwise, the charcoal will easily smear and create a muddy mess.
Today I added a layer of blue oils mixed with a hint of cobalt violet to the canvas. The object is to begin a background for the sky on the underpainting. If this dries well tomorrow, my next step will be to begin adding the grisaille.
I’m always a bit afraid to start the grisaille on my paintings because I feel very strongly that I must be totally committed to the underdrawing before I move forward. I believe that the design and drawing stages are easily the most important steps in any oil painting. The drawing acts as a scaffold-like structure. With a good drawing in place, the artist can be free to express light, shadow, character and mood. A drawing can therefore make or break your painting.
Here’s what’s sitting on my easel today. This ” Native Princess” is a charcoal sketch on stretched canvas. The subject is a young native American woman Richard and I saw at a Pow Wow in Houston. Now that I completed the under sketch, I will work on the grisaille (a grey scale underpainting). The good news is that we had minimal damage from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey so Richard was able to focus on fixing my Sorg easel that was broken in our move from Colorado to Naples, Florida. It feels good to be back at the easel. I can’t wait to begin painting this young lady.
Mary painted her granddaughter Genevieve on the beach at Clam Pass in Naples, Florida. The painting is oil on canvas and is 18″ x 24″. The painting is a hybrid between the 19th Century impressionist method and the traditional classical approach.
Mary visited Estonia several years ago. Mary watched a basket weaver at work in a rural life museum. Her intense focus and large muscular arms inspired this painting. Continue reading Estonian Basket Weaver→