I finally finished “Reading Time”. It was challenging in many ways and I learned a great deal. I estimate about 50 hours of time was spent on this painting. That makes for a long week of work given I could do this full time; however, I paint around my day job and family so getting this done over a month is a bit longer than I wanted to take.
One thing I have noticed is that I am no longer intimidated by complex imagery or subjects, it’s only the mechanics of laying the paint down with absolute precision that continues to challenge me. The unique artistry that often eludes me is still present and this I think will be the most difficult obstacle to clear. Regardless I continue to press on with more work.
“Reading Time” posed some difficulties that I want to illustrate. First and foremost was the lettering. There was a lot of it in this painting and I was very concerned about the bookbinding and the letters at the top of the book. These required absolute control of the pigment throughout every layer. I did not achieve this to the level I wanted, and the letters suffer in part because masking fluid is almost impossible to lay down straight. Painting around the letters isn’t an option either because you lose uniformity of color with the rest of the book. I worked to isolate the book from the rest of the painting by masking and taping everything off. This allowed me to make sweeping wet in wet green washes, mixing massive amounts of greens and blues together. What this does is provide a brush-less smooth color distribution and blending. The caveat to this is the masking fluid itself. Sometimes minute spots are missed and the sweeping washes leak into parts of the paper I never wanted it to go. Masking created very hard edges that had to be softened and as I stated before it does not go on smoothly. Imagine painting rubber cement with a detail brush, while it’s drying in mid stroke. >:- [
On to the positives, which for me was the watch and its reflection. I love the color, and the radiance it seems to command over rest of the image. I find that it keeps the viewer looking deeper and deeper into the brass & gold. The metal of the pocket watch was deeply influenced by the late evening sunset. I setup this still life out back on our deck when the sun was burning like an orange flamed copper disk, about a ¼ up from the western horizon. Too bad I had a cheap camera, my reference photo pixelated out above 800 x 600 pixels. I need to get one of those lenses that allow you to take tight in shots that are super detailed.
I expect the next foray into metal reflections will only get better. I’d like to explore how much I can get into a distorted reflection in future paintings. Perhaps I can toy around with some surrealism using reflections.
Tonight I’m cleaning off the painting desks and re-organizing everything again for the next painting. This one is larger and has more J.R.R. Tolkien’s books in it from my collection. Perhaps it will garner some interest from the science fiction readers and Tolkien fan base out there. This will be #11 and I have high expectations. Painting #12 will be small, a change up from the size I’m used to working with. This too will be pose more difficulty in getting the details of whatever I end up painting on a piece of paper so small.