Random Untitled Fun – A Journey

IT BEGINS – 04/01/2021

Hey Ho Y’all!  Oh I’ve been quiet all through March, trying to sort myself out and recalibrate after a job change and now a new calibration begins with yet ANOTHER job change effective today … SO MUCH CHANGE.  This is all delightful and terrifying … such is life.

This piece began with days and days of drawing during my vacation the first week in March, and I was absolutely delighted at the joyful character that emerged.  Showing it to my daughter she said ‘Mom, I really like it but some drawings just weren’t meant to be painted.’ … which was a challenge I simply had to rise to.  She may be right (she often is) but I know no rightness but my own.

I was committed to a red background.  I really wanted to red to show through the center section behind the figure as well as through the two windows.  I had a vision of a happy friend entering, announcing himself ‘HEY HEY!’ … I used my acrylic paint pen again (they continue to serve me well) and got the outline on the canvas.  Then the color choices began.

My intention with this was to have the embellishments on the doors to have a brownish/tan hue.  I used Vandyke Brown and Azo Brown thinking, for sure, this would work well… and they made green.  This is what I get for mixing on the canvas instead of on the palette.  Ever flexible I reworked my mental image a little bit and rolled with it.

Right … look at that blue.  While listening to the ‘Old Gods of Appalacia‘ podcast I pulled out some French Ultramarine for the main color and Dioxazine Blue for the darker hue, and then, of course, my Raw Umber for the stronger shading and Zinc White for highlight mixing.  It all went just smashingly.  That mofo just jumps off the canvas.  It is intense and saturated and I was just in love.  

I do have some speed painting videos I may share as public posts if you are interested in seeing some of the process… unfortunately Patreon doesn’t want to let me embed any video in the posts themselves.  

I’d originally planned the ‘marbles’ to be a pale green, but with the door accents being green I decided to run with a burnt orange.  This felt a gamble next to the red background but what the hell, I’m in this for the learning and curiosity rather than following a set path (which never really works out for me, as you will see momentarily.

HOLY SHIT WHAT DID I DO?!  I’ll tell you what I did.  I mixed up some Naples Yellow and Flesh Tone (I do wish companies would stop calling a pale peachy pink ‘flesh tone’  come on Winsor & Newton, it’s 2021) … It was and is gorgeous.  Perfect for these doors to balance out the intense red.  So I started in, listening to my podcasts and just filling in ALL the background, including the windows.  I got half way through the second window before I realized my error.  I was on autopilot and thoroughly enjoying the challenge.  You should have heard the words that came out of my mouth in that moment.  There were many and all were profane.

So, I suck, BUT I did notice things.  First, the change in how the blue pops with that yellowish background instead of the red, much less poppage … ALL of the colors pop less.  The lighting in those last two photos is identical, this isn’t quite identical but it’s awfully close.  Just changing the tone of the background impacted the ENTIRE painting.  I’m gobsmacked and still very very irritated with myself.  

Once I realized I sorta had to go with it.  I can and have removed small bits of painting errors with turpenoid but this was simply beyond the pale.  Once this dries I have some thought for how to proceed and do something entirely different than the original vision.  I am, still, beating myself up over this absurd error and one thing about oil paints is that, given the extensive drying time, you simply must stare at the error for DAYS before you can go in and paint over sections.  So I stare and am miffed.

—UPDATE 04/29/2021

Well y’all things over here have gone w.e.l.l.!!!

That’s right. I decided to just throw caution to the wind and tackle that background with gusto. I did a gradient of raw umber, cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium, and cadmium yellow pale. Aside from knowing I wanted the light at the top and the dark at the bottom I didn’t have a solid plan but I’m just thrilled with how this is going.

My dissatisfaction now comes from the head full of marbles. I originally wanted them a translucentish olive green but it wasn’t working well with the green trim I’d done in the doors – so I flipped them to that burnt orange color. Well NOW the burnt orange doesn’t work because of the background. Life comes full circle.

I used terra vert, cadmium lemon and cadmium yellow pale with some raw umber for shading and just had a blast with those. All of the colors I chose are translucent, so there is still some warmth from the under painting of orange, but the layers of color now are really pleasing to me … and that little belly bird is so fun.

I feel like there’s still mountains to do but am also feeling like my initial snafu of painting the entire background the wrong color really did push me to simply abandon all sense and just go for it.

Next up is the doors and the door trim. I’m not sure of the color combos I’m going to employ but I also have three or so other pieces in the works – so I’ll let this one chill and just bask in the satisfaction for a small bit.

–UPDATE 06/02/2021–

This is the piece that just won’t end!  I do think I’m finished with it and I’m not sure I love it and so it goes.

I had a bit of a tantrum when working on the side panels and just covered that whole damn bad boy with some zinc white, naples yellow and my bad attitude … all with a palette knife.

I found this a satisfying move although it did change the WHOLE FEEL of the piece.  So I snatched up my burnt umber and did my thing, leveraging the texture I’d applied with the palette knife.  I used my hands primarily to rub on the burnt umber, which allowed the texturing to show through, and this was a good move.  It has a distinctly ‘Olive Garden’ feel to it now, which makes me laugh.

Truly, at this point … I’m just not feeling the piece anymore.  I don’t hate it and I don’t love it but by GOLLY I will finish it.  I went back through and added shadows and highlights just to polish it up a little.  I’m pretty well sure I won’t sell it and may even paint over it in time … and I’ve learned so much and had a hoot doing it – so it’s a win.

Just a quick last note here on the differences between the last two pictures.  The only substantial changes here were the addition of white highlights and raw umber shading (oh and the fingernail painting).  It’s still amazing to me how much of a difference is made with just a bit of white and umber … it pops off the canvas much more at the end than it did at any other point.  Magical.

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