Sunday, December 14, 2008

Small Works

I have a friend who for many years made his living as a building superintendent. When he was laid off he decided to go into business for himself. He specialized in doing the jobs that the homeowner couldn't do but were too small for the larger companies. He calls his business "Charlie Small Jobs". During the winter when my converted garage-studio becomes too cold to heat with my little electric heater, I move my paint kit into the house and work on a variety of small paintings. The two featured here,"White Vase with Oranges" and "Black Vase with Potatoes" both measure 8" by 10". I decided to push a little harder into picking up some of the detail with these two. Probably the influence of the cast drawing and the atelier where I've been studying. I've been trying out these Raphael synthetic rounds that I saw mentioned on Tony Ryders website and elsewhere. I'm really growing to love these brushes "they take a licking and keep on ticking". I'm also experimenting with different types of underpaintings. In "Black Vase.." I used a pretty detailed thin, colored ebauche directly on a white canvas and then painted directly over this after it was dry, using a window shade technicque. In "White Vase" I rubbed a thin stain of raw umber and let it dry. I made a detailed charcoal drawing, outlined it and then I went directly into window shading without an underpainting. So far I'm getting a big kick out of doing these small works in this manner and I'm forcing myself to really slow down and justify every brushstroke. I had a fear in the past of becoming overly "tight" but I recently read this great description of Dutch master still life painting which basically said that they managed to pack in a lot of detail while never losing sight of their broad manner. I'm starting to realize that that pretty much describes most of the paintings that I generally respond to.

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