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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Driven by Weight Loss

"Toes In The Water"
Oil on Canvas Panel 
12 x 16 inches

If one does much painting en plein air, one finds out quickly that they have plenty of superfluous stuff in their painting kit.   Hmmmm.  Did you say "kit?"   Somehow, the word "Kit" implies something small to me.   Painting outdoors, if you aren't just playing in a sketchbook, involves lots of stuff.   The further one must walk to get to the painting spot, the more one recognizes the need to LOSE the extra stuff.   Soon, the painter's thoughts turn to "how can I make this lighter, smaller, handier, faster, etc."

For some painters, this thought process becomes an obsession . . . even beyond the act of painting.   I have never gotten to that point, but there is something to be said for having a lightweight, efficient set up.   I have found myself assessing every single thing I have in my pack.  (Oh!  did you say "Pack?"  As in back pack?)   Exactly!   And not a cheap one, either.   Walking for a mile or two, to arrive at the place you wish to paint, weight and comfort can (and do) become a fanatical religion.   I recently invested nearly $200 on a very nice back pack and am absolutely tickled pink with how nice and comfortable it is to carry all my stuff to my painting destinations.

But the religious fervor has now invaded my consciousness to the extent that I am examining and re-examining every bit of the pack's contents.   A few days ago, I realized that my nice little lock box of paints (inside my pack) had gotten very heavy and difficult to close (from having too much stuff in it!!)

So, to the art store I went, thanks to Kathleen Dunphy and her terrific recommendations for a limited palette, I acquired  Rembrandt Brand Permanent Red Medium,  Utrecht Brand Cadmium Yellow Lemon,  Ultramarine Blue,  Rembrandt's Naples Yellow dark and Cold Gray (and Titanium White, of course).   I then took some nine or ten tubes out of my little lock box (amazing !) and carried them to the studio drawers to live there permanently.   Today, I went to this lovely little isolated beach with my friend Scott to while away a gorgeous morning to paint in the sunshine and fresh air.  (What a way to live !!! )

After setting up my tripod mounted pochade box, I set about putting the new paints out on the palette and mixing big puddles of the secondary colors . . .Orange, Green and Violet.  I now had  nine little piles of beautiful paint, ready to go.   But wait!    I then took a very close look at the colors and values of the big bluff I was about to commit to canvas . . . .and mixed more puddles of paint (with a palette knife) of the exact color and value that I would need.  Soon, my palette was full of paint puddles.
 
I will confess to, in previous painting sessions, not being a bit happy with the outcome of my colors in my paintings (often muddy) and being frustrated with how milky and muddy my turps had become during painting sessions, thus transferring all that muck to my colors.   
 
Today was a BREAKTHROUGH!   Before I even had a drawing or a sketch, I had all my colors mixed and set, ready to drop onto canvas in exactly the right spots!   This may not seem like a big deal to you, dear reader, but I am a died in the wool watercolor painter who has habits formed over 25 years of painting (They are not easy to break!)   Having been a watercolor painter, I have been accustomed to mixing colors with my brush and rinsing my brush with nearly every stroke!   I stand witness that this is not good with oil painting!    If one follows those habits, the paint on the canvas is thin and often muddy.
 
Premixing so many colors and correct values before anything else happened set me to truly concentrate on applying the paint in the right spots . . .  .not stopping between strokes to mix color . . . . . . .and in that concentration, the act of painting was like music flowing through me!   I was in a zone . . . .a pleasurable trance, if you will, of really and truly making my painting really work!   
 
I can't wait to do it again and again and again!  (Thanks, Kathleen!)
 
And to think that weight loss is what drove me to this!   Why didn't I see it sooner!!   


3 comments:

Cynthia Nicole said...

Interesting! And i really Love this painting, too!

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Kathleen Dunphy said...

So glad using a limited palette helped you, Mike!
Kathleen