Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gold potato

gold potato
11/23: Gold potato, oil on linen panel, 5x4 in. SOLD

I'm back from my first somewhat extended blog break. Sorry for leaving abruptly. I hope all my U.S. friends had a great Thanksgiving and were able to get stuffed full of turkey or ham, mashed potato etc., and possibly a syrup-laden cranberry jelly (my wife makes the real thing but we like the canned stuff also). I had had the task of clearing off the mountain range of clutter from the table in the dining room - my "studio" - and I don't know when I would have got it done if the holiday hadn't rolled around. Now I can get started making a fresh mound of clutter.... Yesterday I got up super early and braved the crowd for the first time to hunt down a new vacuum cleaner among other things - I only went to one store so it wasn't too bad, but I wouldn't want to do it again any time soon as I was all messed up the rest of the day.

I also got some Indian yellow yesterday to try for the first time, after seeing too many other painters use it in their standard palettes. Only a tiny bit if any made it into this painting, which maybe shows that I don't really need it, but I've begun to see how having a transparent yellow might be useful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


11/20: McIntosh, oil on linen panel, 5x3.5 in.

Sometimes I don't know where the work is going to take me, this time it felt almost like shaping a bas-relief on the right side. And I sort of like the sloppiness of the green in that part.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Onion #3

onion #3
11/19: Onion #3, oil on linen panel, 5x3.5 in. SOLD

I didn't realize how coppery I'd made everything until this morning when I saw how far off the colors in the photo were (too much yellow, but I think I managed to fix it). Most times the camera gets the color close and other times I have to play around a while in Photoshop.

Monday, November 19, 2007


11/18: McIntoshes, oil on linen panel, 5x6 in.

About McIntosh apples here's what Wikipedia has: "Every McIntosh apple has a direct lineage to a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, a hamlet located in Dundas County in the Canadian province of Ontario, near Morrisburg." And: "Jef Raskin, a computer scientist, is credited with naming the Apple Macintosh, a computer system, after the fruit, adopting a very common misspelling often seen in grocery stores. It is possible that this spelling was used to avoid confusion with the high end audio manufacturer McIntosh. Due to the persisting popularity of the Macintosh computer line, the misspelling of the cultivar has only been perpetuated."

"Anno Domini" goes before the date, people! Not really a non sequitur, because it was while reading more about apple history (and getting sidetracked) that I found yet more places where people are putting A.D. after the date as in the case of B.C. For example,

79 A.D. - Pliny the Elder in his Natural History ...
A.D. was invented in 525 A.D. by Dionysius Exiguus.
... Latin for “in the year of the Lord,” it means that the number that goes with it is the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. For example, it is now 2006 A.D.
Those last two are particularly good as the blog post they come from tries to put on an air of intelligence (though I'm sure I do that), even pointing out the literal translation only to show that the writer doesn't really understand it. Now, I don't mind people getting it wrong in conversation, but I really hate seeing it in print, especially in anything dealing with history - like at the beginning of a "historical" movie (in Monty Python and the Holy Grail I forgive them because they're silly) - this is similar to my thing against Irish pipes in Scottish movies, but anyway....

I ain't no grammarian, but I suppose when people wrote in Latin this happened a lot, and I would say it was because Latin word order was loose and one could go around saying things backward and still be correct: "on the first of the Lord of October in the year 2007 my homework ate my dog." It's maybe better to use B.C.E. ("before the common era") and C.E. ("of the common era") if you don't care about the order and want things simple, but I'm not pushing that - I just wish people remember what abbreviations stand for when they write them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kiwi #2

kiwi #2
11/17: Kiwi #2, oil on canvas panel, 4x4 in.

As I was going to shoot this I saw there was a lot of light bouncing back from some dull spots in the darkest shadow (this isn't the smooth linen so it was more pronounced). I don't normally do it but I sprayed a little Damar varnish to smooth it out some. I figure this doesn't hurt if the paint layer is still wet, as the Damar would mix in with it and not just sit on top trapping the paint and drying at a different rate. It took care of that dullness but I must have done one spritz too many because it began to liquefy and fan out some of the topmost strokes, like the purplish bits. But oh well, it probably turned out better.

Here's my "standard" palette, which lately hasn't changed much, a sign that I am getting more comfortable - I scraped a lot of the mess away from last night but left the mixed blobs, which I drew out a bit more to show the colors better:
my palette 11/17
1. titanium white
2. cad. yellow med.
3. yellow ochre
4. cad. red med.
5. alizarin
6. transp. oxide (or earth) red
7. ultramarine
8. Prussian blue
9. ivory black

Alizarin is usually used just for purples and reds, and black practically never (except lately I use it with ochre and maybe a little cad. red if I want a greenish-brown underpainting) - so probably 8 of the 9 colors are actually in the final picture. The one most used is transp. oxide red/red earth, which I learned about from
Terry Miura's website - it's like a transparent Venetian red as Gamblin describes, and I've been making my two most important mixes with it: (a) with ultramarine for a transparent dark blue-brown; and (b) with Prussian blue for a semitransparent dark blue-green. (b1) and (b2) are simply (b) mixed with ochre and white, respectively.

These were useful for the kiwis and aren't standard but could be: (c) is yellow ochre added to (a), maybe with more of the red earth. I haven't been mixing it much before last night, but I found it works well for the kiwi skin and would probably be of good use every day. (d) is ochre and red earth. (e) is red earth and cad. yellow.

Sorry if this was confusing. For mediums I'm using Galkyd Lite and/or linseed oil, sometimes Venetian turpentine (tiny glob to the left of the palette cups). I keep telling myself I should go back to using cups with lids, but it may be better to let any remaining bit of Galkyd dry out completely and pour a fresh little amount the next day, than let it dry slowly under cover, creating a gummy mess inside; the linseed oil doesn't really get a chance to dry out.