August 4, 2011

A New Painting: "Three Pipes"

Three Pipes, egg tempera on calfskin parchment, 6 x 4 1/2 inches.

The three cylindrical volumes of differing color, texture and direction are what interested me in this image. The corrugation of the topmost pipe added rhythm and complexity and was a challenge to paint. I wanted to leave the form a little "soft", not as crisp as I could make it (though I realize that to you it probably looks very precise). It was very difficult to photograph this painting because the balance of reds in the orange pipe and in the corrugated pipe tended to work against each other; I finally realized I could isolate the orange and adjust it, so now the photo is closer to the actual painting. I find the orange pipe's bulging form very satisfying and hope it doesn't overpower the rest.

In this detail you can see some of the surface irregularities in the browns––the texture of the parchment and bits of dust––thrown into relief by the light from above, since I shoot in natural light under a skylight. When you see the painting straight on, the texture is not evident. While working on this painting, I kept telling myself "paint slowly" because I've noticed that when I run into trouble it's because I've taken a large brush and worked the volumes too quickly––an especially strong temptation with cylinders––which leads to mistakes and over-painting and wiping off paint, etc etc. Patience!

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