Sometimes a painting just takes your hand and moves the brush for you and before you know it, free from much painterly anxiety, it is finished. Sometimes every thing is tough and difficult, and stress inducing. This was the latter, and more the norm. When I was back in Northlandia I took some wintry scenes and this picture while not very wintry was kind of neat, compositionally speaking. It is heading East on Mulberry at the Chamber's Street railroad crossing. To the left is the Discovery Depot and to the right is the old locomotive at the train station. The building on the right in the painting is Adams Pressed Metals building.
The preliminary wash is applied all over the canvas. I used Terra Rosa as an underpainting and then applied the hand drawn diagram of the future painting. It is all rather rough just to give it some clarity and this is the time when you make any changes.
Question: What are you talking about when you say "wash"?
A wash is some very light oil paint and a lot of turpentine or Gambol as a first application.
Question: Why do you wash? Why not just start painting?
A wash on canvas kind of sets the base for further application of oils. Besides this is how the masters like Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Reuben's did it. And now Blythe.
Here is the part where I painted (again, with a light wash) the road and fore buildings to get it going. You will have 2 or three washed areas down before you actually get to the real oil painting. See how this is a lot like painting coloring books? You make sure you have the lines and you paint in between them, just like when you were 7.
Question: Were you a good colorer?
I considered myself an excellent colorer, although I got bored with it fairly soon. I'm sure I was better than the Wombie, and I do remember him filching my Brick Red crayon constantly.
At this stage most of the underpainting is finished and we've begun working in oils. One part that vexed me were the light standards. I didn't want just another mixture of grays and white like the road, so I came up with a viridian and alizarin crimson mixture toned down ( a lot) by some titanium white. Along the same lines, I wasn't happy with the sky or the clouds, so I had to re-do that as well. And then I wasn't pleased with the background trees and worked them over, too. You see, things just didn't work well on this one - I had to do a lot of mulling, pondering and then re-dabbling.
Question: You are a lazy-assed unemployed bum, why not ponder and mull all day. What else do you have to do?
In the above picture you can see that the sky is about done, the buildings are about done, the light standards are about done. In other words, a whole lot is done, but much is left. Nothing is completely finished and everything needs tweaked. But it is taking shape and this is basically what we'll have when finished. In the last 6 months of this spurt of performance I have done 3 paintings of this same size, 30" x 40". This 4th has taken longer, and I've spent more time trying to figure it all out than the others combined, probably. It's a real bear. My own fault, however, since I have left it for days hoping some magical hand comes from somewhere to help me get over the hump. But on I slog.
And this is the finished product, more or less. It is what I had in mind when I started. There are things I like and things I don't, but then that's the way it goes for these types of things, I guess. Michael and I used to ply this road back a few years ago when he had his super-cool 4 wheeler and we'd traipse (I'd traipse, he'd have all the fun on his ATV) all over town. Our first stop was always the depot to watch for trains.
So the fourth large painting is done, and I think I'll switch gears. Maybe I'll do some plein air just to shake things up a little. Most of August will be up in Northlandia so we'll see what happens in September. Anyway, I tend not to title these things so this is it, pretty much. I'm tired of looking at it, and not sure what else can be done to improve it but I always leave the possibility open, at least until I put a protective wash of Walnut varnish on it, which won't happen for 6 months.
Question: Is this painting or any of the other ones for sale?
Up to the point they are requested for display at the National Art Museum or The Louvre, yes they are.
Question: Isn't that a rather obvious and shameless plug to sell hack artwork in order to enrich your bank account?
Yes, and you can't believe my embarrassment. I also accept Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.
Question: Are you bullshitting us with all that?