Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gethsemane Postmortem

Day four of glazing this painting and now it is done. This picture has taken 9 days of painting so far, and 21 days work in total including preparation. There is more to do yet. The gold area will include gemstones.

I've learned a few things with this one. Some edges look stark and ugly where the paint was painted next to dry areas during underpainting. There aren't many possible solutions; extend the drying time (not ideal, wet paint acretes more dust), calculate daily painting sections carefully (not always possible) or paint by section and not by object (could work, but would require exact and time consuming colour matching from day to day), or re-wet edges when underpainting (not a bad idea but time consuming, and would also require colour matching together with the hope that the newly wet edges don't show up as different). I'll use bits of all of those. Stark edges are my current biggest hurdle in my quest for perfection.

Another lesson was don't sand the panel before priming. It left a dusty surface that was "hairy" and horrid to paint on, that made me care less while painting. In a way, this was unavoidable. I had prepared one panel for an early version of this painting which I aborted. When I prepared this one I messed up, and in my frustration (and lack of wood!) I decided to flip the panel over and use the back, which needed sanding due to blemishes and is why this one isn't a perfect surface. Even now there is a strong visible scar across the top. I knew this fully before I began, and knew that I could have waited and taken more care but I was growing tired of this old idea. Sometimes you have to compromise quality just to get a job out of the way.

Of good lessons, Blockx transparent mars yellow is great earth yellow, and makes nicer greens than any ochre I've used. I also made good first use of bright yellows and greens for the daffodils, which used cadmium lemon, ultramarine and raw umber (to mute the intensity). Those three and white were used for all of the bright yellows and greens which worked very well.


Kathy said...

WOW! This painting is fabulous and definitely one of my favorite of yours. Powerful, unique, and meaningful. As for the technical challenges you mention - I've encountered them as well since my process in oils is very similar to yours. Once my underpainting is dry, I usually start the overpainting in glazes and once they dry, I use scumbling to soften many of the sharp edges. It works well and I can apply many scumbled areas in different hues to add depth. After I sand a panel I usually wipe it several times with a soft cloth dipped in alcohol. That seems to get rid of the residual dust and particles.

-Don said...

This is looking great! The complexity of the imagery is enthralling and makes me want to get in front of it.

As for all your technical difficulties... I suddenly feel really good about my haphazard, devil-may-care approach to slapping acrylics and paper mache' onto canvas. My one question is, are you really compromising quality when you are putting such a fine work of art onto the support? Isn't it more that you are making the best of the materials you have at hand. The strength of the image and how you employed it will keep flaws in the support from being areas of concern - at least to everyone except you - who will always know it's there.


Kathy said...

P.S. I wouldn't call this a "postmortem." It's alive, not dead!!

Mark Sheeky said...

Hmm yes I think scumbling would work, maybe applied after the underpainting as a separate sort of smoothing layer... thanks for that tip Kathy! I think my MDF is a bit TOO dusty when sanded, it practically becomes like felt and dusty and hairy all over when primed. Yes, the painting lives! I borrowed a term for analysing a completed project from the computer game industry. I'll be adding more to this one later...

Don hmm, I suppose I have made the best of what I've got but I knew I could have got an extra few percent by waiting a week or two and preparing a new panel. However an odd thing happens, I find that when I start with a "perfect" smooth surface I don't tend to produce as good paintings as when I have a rough n ready one. The pictures I don't expect much from tend to turn out better than I thought... which makes sense in a way! As ever I suppose the most important thing is the artwork/meaning etc. not the dust levels. Besides 99% of people never notice. Perhaps only I EVER notice things like that.