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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Darlin' You've Got Paint In Your Hair

Kathleen is so much like her mother (me, of course) it scares me.  We've begun the process of painting together in my studio.  I set Kathleen up with her own easel and canvas, made her a glass tabletop palette, and showed her the ropes to start painting in oils.

First step - Grab a liter of Coca Cola and stick it close by, then begin graphing her reference image while I set up her palette of oil paints and medium.

Second step - Graph your canvas the same as your reference image and sketch it out.

Third step - Study your reference.

Fourth step - Mix your oil paints and prepare for painting.

Fifth step - study your sketch and get your image on the canvas.  Paper towels available - check.  Charcoal available - check.  Hairspray available - check.

Sixth step - Spray your finished charcoal or pencil sketch with hairspray to set it on the canvas and prevent the charcoal from smearing when you begin painting.  I had you fooled about the Hairspray didn't I?  hee hee.

Seventh step - Begin painting, working "thin to fat" and preparing your canvas with the "underpainting."

See the portrait I'm working on?  That is an underpainting.  I put down "color notes" as I call them, and paint a thin layer of color to provide me with a map by which to build the correct colors, values, and thicker layer of oil paint.  And that is what is meant by "thin to fat."  As an artist in oils, I put down a thin layer of paint first, almost transparent, and I cover the canvas.  This enables me to see the direction I am taking with the painting, working to build up the layers of paint, brushstrokes, and detail.  Just thought you'd like to know.

And so, Kathleen works hard on her first oil painting, and she is doing a great job!  I can't wait to share it with you when she's finished.  Oh, and also that portrait of Matthew.  I began that painting 6 years ago and have been procrastinating finishing it.  I think I had an artist's block and, well, I put off getting back to it bcause of my own artistic insecurities.  Thanks to Kathleen's motivation and inspiration, I'm going to finish this painting and dangnammit, make my little boy happy.  Matthew's been after me for years asking "Mom, when are you going to finish my portrait?"  "uh, Matthew - when I feel like I'm not a crappy artist trying to be good at what I do."  He didn't buy it.

Kathleen's painting, by the way, is a beautiful abstract painting that she wants to frame and hang in her bedroom.  Sounds good to me!

Isn't this fun? 


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