Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Painting Larger

"Munds Mountain, Morning"
16x20, oil/linen

It was a crisp morning - 33 degrees - but we finally had clear skies and no wind after a couple of days of unsettled weather. I've been itching to get to my larger canvases, so this was the day. I threw on the parka, slipped on the "glomitts" and a wool hat, and headed out to the Schnebly Hill area.

It took three hours and my biggest brushes to do the painting above. I used a 16x20 pre-stretched portrait linen canvas from Frederix. If you've used stretched canvas in the field, you know the problem with it. Sunlight coming in from the back can make the surface glow and throw off all your value and color judgements. To solve this problem, I slipped in a piece of cardboard to block the sun. But why use stretched canvas in the first place? A 16x20 panel is heavy, so I went with the lighter option. I normally don't like painting on a woven surface because of the texture. Anytime I use stretched canvas, I use portrait linen, which has a finer weave.

My biggest brushes are #12 hog bristle flats from Silver Brush Ltd. (I also used a #4 and #6 for the minimal detail work.) The palette in my French easel was just barely big enough for mixing, probably because I've added Terra Rosa and Yellow Ochre to my six-color, split-primary palette. The weave of the canvas, although fine, really ate up the paint.

While I was painting, Trina and Saba had time to do not one but two hikes! After I finished, I felt like I'd done two hikes myself. Big paintings take a lot of mental energy and physical stamina. But it's a bit like marathon running; once you've done a few, the next ones always seem a little easier. But you can't stop training - stop, and you'll lose your conditioning.

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