I worked on River Watcherand Night Watcher(see the previous post) concurrently, switching off as one dried enough to work on, and then the other did. Each time I switched – rolling my taboret cart from one to the other, shifting the left-hand easel (River Watcher) to fit the taboret between or beside each piece – it was emotionally difficult to leave the one I was quitting. But I’d gamely work into the current piece, and eventually be reluctant to leave that one! Guess I’m a bit obsessive.
I have a penchant for the 19th-century visual sense, both the popular esthetic and the experimental high art of the time, and it’s showing more and more in my painting. Maybe it’s hokey, but it’s me – at least for the time being. The figure in River Watcher is from the same photo shoot, same cemetery in Manchester, NH, as the one in Night Watcher – another muse-like beauty. She’s placed beside the Susquehanna River in Endicott, NY.
This is the first piece I’ve done, since childhood, which features an expanse of water, and I’m quite pleased with it. A lot of the underpainting is left to show, and I like the resulting depth.
River Watcher presented more challenges than the previous piece, as you can see in the progression below.
Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.
River Watcher 1: underpainting started
River Watcher 2: underpainting coming along nicely.
River Watcher 3: underpainting finished!
River Watcher 4: beginning of color block-in, with light grey-blues in sky and river; greyish browns, greens, pinks on hillside. Underpainted trees show through, to be painted in again later.
River Watcher 5: color block-in continues. Greens added and wiped back in river, white/veridian green semi-transparent glaze over the figure. Some re-drawing on the foot.
River Watcher 6: blocking in the lights on the figure, more darks in the river, and added lights on the river in the same hue as on the figure, for color harmony.
River Watcher 7: values blocked in on figure – a bit too angular.
River Watcher 8: thinking maybe I should lighten up the figure again, after the dark glaze. Definitely have to cut some sky color back into the foliage (can’t believe I thought this was almost done).
River Watcher 9: thought I was nearly finished — just needed to delineate the geese, cut some lights into the darks of the trees and the figure — but I wound up re-painting the entire figure. It was just too choppy and muddy. Much happier with it now, but have to do some more work on the form of the wrist/hand. (The darks under the new surface inform it nicely, I think — I did as much wiping out as I did painting in.) Then lights to thin the trees, and subtle clarification of the geese. This one’s taking a while!
River Watcher 10: finished! just a little clarification of the geese, hand and wrist corrected, lights cut into tree foliage, and blues greyed down just a bit.
I’ve realized, in looking at my schedule for the summer, that because of the Unlikely Dance series I have very few new small pieces to show. And getting so mentally tangled up in Unlikely Dance is not really good for either the work or me. So I’ve started two small (20 x 16 in.) landscapes, and am working them in around Entry Hall. It’s proven great for the large piece — taking a couple of days’ break from it gave me a new outlook, and I made a lot of progress when I got back into it. And I’ve found a new model reference for face #1 (L-R), which just wasn’t working. I’m just waiting for the overpainting to dry. I think two or three more work sessions should see it finished.
During drying times I’ve gotten both small landscapes underpainted, and am nearly finished blocking in first colors on the first one, River Willows. It’s referenced from a series of photos I took last spring, along the Susquehanna River around Endicott, NY.
I also have a new taboret and palette! My husband is doing a complete renovation of our kitchen (his wonderful food and cooking blog is Dinner at Leo’s), and he no longer needs either the small pantry drawer unit or the wire kitchen cart so I’ve taken them over, and added a 12 x 18 in. cheap metal picture frame on the top for a palette. The glass in the frame makes the easily-cleaned palette, and I put light grey paper under the glass for a neutral colored mixing surface. The wheeled cart is so much easier than the previous small shelf unit to move from one painting to another. Very pleased!
The “Unlikely Dance” project was made possible by a grant from the Artists Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York To follow my progress in Unlikely Dance, just click on the “Unlikely Dance” link under TOPICS, on the left of any page in this blog.