Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Accident

At times it happens that while painting a picture artists come to a block, whether if it's for aesthetic or technical reasons. In my experience it happens frequently, but not quite like one particular painting, a portrait I have been trying to complete since October of 2005. My dear old friend Steve is back on the easel, a portrait so close to completion but yet so far off. The background has been reworked so many times, as well as the face, but I can never get it right.
In my eagerness to try to get this picture out of the way once and for all I started making mistakes. I chose a color that might work for the new background, but it turns out that Turkish Umber is way too wet. I thought it would be fine since I would be mixing it with Unbleached Titanium, a very stiff paint. But the umber had too high an oil content. The mixture was too loose, runny, and it would not give me the kind of strokes I needed in this painting. I didn't want to change the color, and mixing more paint would do just that. I reached for some chalk to stiffen the mixture up. Chalk, when added to/suspended in oil turns transparent, but it remains bulky. Just the right thing to fix my dilemma. But out of clumsiness I poured too much out of the jar. No problem, all I had to do was add more oil. Again, I poured too much oil and everything became a watery mixture. To get it to the way I wanted I mixed more dry ingredients such as Titanium White pigment and more chalk. I also added more of the Turkish Umber to keep the grey tone.
After some mixing I got the paint to the consistency I wanted. But to my surprise, when I applied it to the canvas it had a full body. It was thick enough to create some wonderful brush marks without blending. I thought I had come across a new way of painting, I had been looking of something to give my paint more body, and thick painting mediums like Canada Balsam and Venice Turpentine weren't doing the job. Turns out I had the answer all along I just didn't think of it sooner.


Bethany said...

can't wait to see the painting as a whole! I love following your progress!

Luis Colan said...

hey Bethany, thanks for the comment! Believe me, I can't wait to finish this painting... :D

Paula said...

Add more of this, add more of that, and on it goes til I feel like a cat chasing my tail !!!!!

pat said...

funny, never alone. and thanks for not stopping me. the painting was Landscape with a Calm and I had done something about it before from a reproduction.

Best, Pat

Luis Colan said...

Hi Pat, it was very funny running into you at the museum that day because when I walked into the show I saw a painting with a beautiful blue sky whith a deep green tree on the foreground and for some reason I thought of your painitngs, then one room later I see you drawing. Hope all is well.