June 8, 2010

One Finished Painting and One Underway

Corners, egg tempera on vellum, 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches

I titled this painting Corners because of the way the circle is nestled into the lower right part of the panel and the curved forms flow both towards the upper left, and the triangle at the lower right; and also because I thought that Cornered would sound too much like a film noir.

In a previous post on two cylindrical paintings, I wrote about how doing watercolor studies helped in working out their color. For this new painting, I thought I'd show the original photo and the study I did based on it.

I switched to gouache for this study, which I will use in future; its opacity is better suited to exploring color for egg tempera, rather than transparent watercolor. As you can see, the color is changed from the photo: I wanted a warmer yellow ochre, a more subdued red that acted more harmoniously with the yellow, and a black with ochre overtones rather than red ones and carrying more light. I hope that this works better than the photographic color. We can also see the difference between a hand made painting and a photograph, though the painting suffers from being seen on a screen, negating much of its presence.

When I finished Corners I started right away on a new painting, having 8 newly stretched parchment panels. This piece, which I'm tentatively calling Red Swoop––though here again I have a funny title in my head, Belly Laugh, because the image so reminds me of a rotund jolly belly (would that be too too silly?)––is 6 5/8 x 5 inches. You see it below with its first layers of paint, the drawing still very fluid. An issue with this piece will be how far towards realism to take the ground that the machine is sitting on; right now it's loosely brushed in green, as it is grass. I'm not sure if I want the grass to be delineated clearly, but doing that might make the image even more surreal than it looks now. The only way to find out is to paint.


  1. I like seeing the contrast between painting and photo - it emphasizes how personally determined the painting is, and also brings up other issues - i.e. what kind of information does one want from a visual object -- and why.
    I look forward to seeing what you decide to do about the grass area on red swoop!

  2. rappel, yes the photo/painting contrast does point up the differing levels and types of information, at least with my painting, which, though realist, is fairly formal and simplified. The contrast is diminished, as I mentioned, by the fact of seeing both on a screen, a flattening format taking away one thing I want from a painting: a hand at work.

  3. I so love the top painting, Corners -- I keep coming back to look at it. I can't quite say why, except that these three colors are so elemental, ochre-vermilion-terre verte (did you use those? I guess vermilion isn't what it was in the old icons), and the three shapes and the diagonals and curves are just so good together. Makes me happy to look at.

  4. Susan, thanks, glad you like the painting. I did use ochre, for both the foreground shape, and mixed with mars black in the curved forms. The ochre was of course mixed with other colors. The reds are based in various cadmiums, including a cadmium red vermillion and cad red deep and purple.

  5. Oh, that greeny gray is ochre and black! You did say that and I didn't figure it out. Nice. They fit together.