I do not often paint large pieces. There’s a completely different physicality involved. The way I have always worked, when I see a piece in my head before starting out, included in this vision/conception is its size. If I envision it small, it’s not merely a matter of using larger paper to make it big. I can only make a thing as I saw it in my head.
With Victory I saw it big.
I enjoy the challenge of leaving my comfort zone. Most of my paintings are 11×17, this one would be 20×30. I have a large wooden easel. It has heavy brass machinery. I pull on a loop below the ledge upon which the canvas sits to raise or lower it on the wooden axis. There is a wooden crossbar on the bottom which connects the two front legs of the large tripod.
While painting the lower section of the piece, I sit on a stool leaning forward. My feet rest on the crossbar. It feels as if I am on a ship, brush in hand. Seas calm, seas stormy, call me Ishmael.
I had been in the middle of a full sized Cinefield® when my computer of six years gave up the ghost. This rendered my needed printer into an expensive paper weight. I switched to doing a painting. This is 11×14 watercolor & tan paper.
errata thought on the elderly: In media & especially television, a shorthand for “old people” they often will reference big band music (usually Duke Ellington or Benny Goodman). A few Rolling Stones albums just hit their 50th anniversary mark. If you do the math, an “old” person was not swinging their gal arround on the dancefloor to “Take the A Train” but rather Hendrix’s electro lament for a decades turmoil & new found freedoms.
Lyra water soluble graphite sticks have become one of my favorite mediums. That with a brush and pocket pad and i can do painterly pieces even when sitting at a cafe table. And I need not sprawl out taking over the table. I am also able to maintain discretion as I would hate to be like one of those people stateside who feel it necessary to go to Starbucks to show everyone that they are “writing”.
Aside from fully realized works, i continue to woodshed, hands, feet, whatever is in front of me. It is akin to a musician practicing scales. Both Renoir and Matisse when in the twilight of their years said something along the lines of it being a shame that they did not have a few more years left as they both felt that they were finally starting to get it. Coltrane before and after a concert or recording session would still put in time practicing. This has been my overall approach too. Regardless of how my day is spent, an hour or two at night woodshedding.
I do not go for the outwardly dramatic thing in my sketching. I let the organic truth of whatever the thing is create the emotion. A sort of raw reportage without any preconceived agenda. All pieces are either 3×5 pocket pad or 4×4 pocket pad. My 3×5 pad has circled the globe with me more ties than I can count and is always besides my bed or in my pocket during the day no matter where I am in the world.
I draw every day, no matter where I am in the world. When on the road, at the very least I will do quick guerilla sketches and woodshedding in my ever present trusty pocket pad. Of late most of my formally done works switch off between Cinefield® and painting (during the execution of which I will still woodshed every night).
A new painting had been started but then it rained out every day with the forecast calling for the following week to be more of the same. I only use natural sunlight to paint by so this was not good for me. I put the painting aside and went on to start Cinefield® Where the Sauce is Deluxe. Between the weather and how labor intensive that piece was the painting sat untouched for four weeks, something I had never done before.
When I went back to work on it, it felt strange initially but I quickly found my rhythm. I am very pleased with the piece. Although I always end up over the course of working on a painting having to let it dry a day between coats. As matter of personal preference, I was not a fan of having a piece left untouched for that long a duration.
Once again I tried to change things up a little. I used a heavy stock brown paper 11×14 inches landscape oriented.
Throughout my oeuvre I had done paintings of close up of body parts. The challenge of this to varying degree is that if one does a super close up of an arm or belly without the outline of limbs/silhouette, it’s not necessarily easy to know what as a viewer, one is seeing.
Without visual guidelines, it’s tougher to show volume & mass of a body. This is one of the challenges I enjoy. If I can make the viewer feel the curve of a part without showing the edge, then it’s “easy” when doing an entire body or section.
Another aspect of this which I enjoy is that even when really nailing the volume and mass effect of the skin, there’s a sort of abstract property to the piece. I like the concept of a viewer enjoying these types of works just for the colors and effects rather than the “Does it look like this person?” aspect which can occasionally be a distraction. This piece is not as tight a zoom as I sometimes do for this type of work.
Another Song About a Girl 11×14 Brown Paper & watercolor
I am now still playing catch up with all the things I had put on hold for a year plus. I am very fortunate that none of it was extremely pressing. Dentist, roofers and a small parade of other things kept me from starting a painting or Cinefield®. I have slowly whittled the list down and started a new Cinefield®. These are labor intensive and so between the two things, it occurred to me I have not posted in awhile. While my studio is being taken over by sheets of tiny cut out images, i can not paint but I can still draw.
When i do short trips i do not bring my painting equipment with me, opting to just draw instead. Sometimes on longer trips even with my painting equipment at hand the weather conspires against me with rain or dark skies. By complete happenstance I discovered Lyra water soluble graphite sticks. I instantly got into this medium. It allows for painterly effects. I have a travel brush which folds into a tiny tube and this accompanying one of the graphite sticks which are size of fat crayon, now allows me to do monochromatic paintings on even short trips. The added bonus for me is that aside from how compact it is, I can use this medium at night (which I cant with regular paints) and in bad weather.
The expressionistic qualities of this medium greatly appeals to me and conveying emotion in only one color makes it that munch “easier” when utilizing a full palette.
I am already pleased with what I can do but am sure that down the line I will get even better.
Now twenty days past my second vaccine, I can start dealing with things which had been on hold for year plus. The vents in my studio needed flushing/servicing. Because of this, I could not do a painting nor start a CINEFIELD® which would put sheets of tiny cut out components everywhere.
I did my nightly drawing but also continued to hone my Lyra chops. This was perfect medium for my situation as it was like painting but each piece was one session after which I could put equipment away.
Studio is back up and running and i have started a new CINEFIELD®. As these are time consuming, i decided to post some more of my Lyra pieces.
I have specific pens, pencils etc that I use. Of course I constantly challenge myself by using lesser quality equipment, it makes using preferred stuff feel easy. As far as travel kits, i am forever tweaking that, the cases and holders all my equipment goes into. I always have three kits; the one for just bopping around the city. This is the smallest and its just a refillable pocket pad, retractable pencil and in the pocket sleeve of the pad a blender or two. This is used as I sit in cafe or bar locally, just doing quick guerilla sketching. As a side note, this is always within reach of my hand and has been around the world with me. I realized that because of the pandemic, it saw zero action for a year plus! It has sat in drawer of one of my tabourets awaiting its chance to see some action. My other kit is for short trips four days or less of being away from home. This is pocket pad, 5×8 pad few traditional pencils of different degrees of hardness and two types mechanical pencil & blenders. It’s still fairly compact, easily carried in book bag. Short trips, I do not bother bringing any painting accoutrements. My last kit is for longer trips week or more and this includes paints etc. The long trip kit is the one i tweak the most often as it’s important for me to work but very quickly space within a suitcase can be taken up.
I discovered during the pandemic a small company that made cases geared towards road warrior artists. The case was very flat and it came loaded with “free” pencils, erasers and all kinds of other sketching swag. Obviously I have not had chance try it out on road. I did try the pencils and sharpeners. All of it was of such low quality it got thrown out. It contained a small cellophane pouch inside of which was three short, pudgy graphite sticks. It reminded me almost of tailors chalk. I had never used it before, so decided try for hell of it. I enjoyed challenge of it and was actually pleased with pieces i did. My way of thinking was that if I could make something happen with low quality version, then using some made by a quality company would be even better. I started doing some research. One thing i found was that the Lyra graphite sticks were said to be basically the same thing, with benefit of being able to sharpen to a point where as the sticks were basically short rectangles.
I had bought one along with a sharpener ages ago but had not used it. I started messing around with it and found i really liked it, the pieces I did were loose and had a painterly effect. Lyra also makes water solvable ones. I bought one to try. It is a game changer for me. It fits in my pocket and all i need is that and one brush and I can do monochromatic watercolors. This will allow me to paint on short trips and not have to up the equipment i take. The actual process is quicker than my normal painting and best of all, I do not need sunlight and can actually do these at night. Two things not possible with my regular painting.
here are my first tries with it. I am sure that the more I do this, the better i will get but I am already pleased with results.