Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Turkish Panel and Unfinished Finishes

I did tell you I am a snail of a painter, did I not? If you don't think so, look back to my post of January 24, 2012...yes, when I began this painting. To recap...back then my parents had been to Turkey, and one of the places they went to see was the Sultan's Palace, Topkapi Sarayi in Istanbul, with its "Fruit Room" harem painted during the Tulip Reign in 1703-1730. I could only look it up in a picture book, but I could smell the sweet hookah shisha right away and wanted to make my own panel. I only got so far with the painting... I remember being on my knees with the canvas on the floor, painting the little pink roses and thrilling at the blending of the oils and the old fashioned patina I was somehow managing. Then I set it aside, the vase not finished, abandoned. 

Well, I've deemed this the month of finishing the great unfinisheds. With a glorious unencumbered Monday at my disposal, I went at the Turkish panel again. I spent an entire afternoon reworking the'd think I was actually throwing the damn thing three dimensionally on a pottery wheel, kilning and glazing it, then taking a cloth and wiping it back to a lump of clay and starting all over again. 

Turkish Panel ~ Oil on Canvas 24" x 30"
I want to stop right here and tell you this. My favourite EVER blending medium for oils is the Windsor and Newton Blending and Glazing Medium. (I have the feeling I have mentioned this before) It is perfect in every way, for extending the potential of your brush stroke, adding just the right sheen to the paint, and allowing for the addition of other shades to change your colours gently as you go....there must be some Italian word to describe its impeccable is slow drying but not toooo you don't pick up too much of the last colour you put down and pull it relentlessly into the new colour you are attempting to gently blend in.  Sadly, I HAVE RUN OUT. And not all art stores have it and I have to special order it. And now you'll want it too and that will make it even harder to get. Anyway, while working on the vase, I went and tried this Gamblin Slow Dry as well as Galkyd stuff, and OMG it drove me nuts. Now I'm sure these are very fab products for their intended purposes, but this creature of  habit became a creature of havoc....I created a purple shade that would NOT disappear. It was probably my method and not the medium, but I blamed the medium. I don't even know if I want to start another oil painting without my beloved W & N B & G M. 

And so, eventually, the vase appeared as it finally is, and there is no going back. I am at peace with the Turkish panel, but I never did embellish the border with a Turkish tile pattern. In fact on the right bottom corner are famous drip marks that remind me of the sweat that went into this piece...I think they should stay as a lasting birthmark or scar, they might have my DNA in them. Maybe if I  keep the painting long enough I will add a  tile pattern around the border but for now I will call it finished, though not fully dressed, kind of like John Singer Sargent did with his Portrait of Madame X. I can't believe I'm attempting that analogy. But you might enjoy following the link for a bit of fun art history. Even some of the the greatest painters hesitated on finishing touches, on occasion leading to scandalous result.   

Study of Mme Gautreau ~ John Singer Sargent 1884

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Autumn Deer

Start of August, up late one evening with CBC 2 on the radio and white wine in my glass...and along came the deer. This time again on a very small wooden board canvas, only 8" x 9". My beforehand sketch sort of doomed this painting to a certain formula...I used small brushes and oil paint, and stood one deer grazing in front of the other...on their own they looked very fine and simple...but on I went and painted the tree in the corner and couldn't get myself to refrain from the oval shape I did with my fox. I'm pleased with the colours...but what is it with me and oval egg shapes? It's the egg I really wish to burst out of, but I keep enclosing my images inside this ever reappearing shape. Egg is a symbol of earth, birth, renewal. Well, OK, I guess that's not such a bad thing to include in one's art. It must mean I see all creatures as precious and sacred, maybe it's my idea of a halo. Maybe I want to protect them in a bubble.  

Autumn Deer ~ Oil on Wood 8"x 9"

Navel gazing aside, I'm pleased I managed to finish this between two evenings...and I was able to emerge slightly from the depression I've been feeling all weekend. Sometimes I feel stranded and lonely, disconnected and melancholy, regretful and anxious, insecure and afraid, restless and panicked. What a glorious menopausal buffet! You can actually mix and match all the adjectives in any combination you like...for instance anxious and panicked creates a certain je ne sais quoi delirium all of its own. 

Somehow I eventually pull myself out of it, usually by doing one or more of the following, in no particular order:
~going for a jog with my dog
~calling a friend to come over
~listening to music
~going to the beach with my dog
~reading poetry
~staring at my fish pond
~lying in the sun
~watching a movie
~having a hot bubble bath
~clocking in at the library and working a full shift 

If I feel soothed, or useful, usually I can begin to feel better. And meditation brings gratitude.

So, now I have completed two smaller works on wood, and I will place the undone painting, Grizzly in the Wheat, back on the easel. This one is going to take some backbone. More to come.