Friday, March 13, 2009

The BIG Canvas

My student from Newfoundland, Peter Lewis, left behind one 3x4 stretched canvas he didn't have time to paint before flying home. Knowing that I've been pushing myself to work larger, he said, "Why don't you use it?" Trina also gave me a nudge or two, and so here I am today, announcing that I actually began - and finished - a truly large piece.

I didn't have an easel big enough. My Gloucester easel is back home on Campobello Island, and the biggest I have here is my French easel. I improvised some deck furniture, as you can see below.

In order to paint a surface that is five times bigger than the largest painting I've ever done (a 16x20), I decided to pick up a couple of large painting knives. I thought I'd get bored, scrubbing on paint with a brush from the get-go, so I felt knives would allow me to pile on the paint more quickly.

I ended up using the knives only for the bottom portion, the landscape. I used my biggest brush, a #12 flat, to lay in washes for the sky and clouds. Then I went back to the landscape with the brush and adjusted the texture so it looked more like it had all been done with a brush.

The painting took about six hours yesterday and another two hours today. Most of yesterday was spent outdoors with it, working from life, until the thunderstorms rolled in. (Yes, thunderstorms in mid-March! We had a hard rain and then a few sloppy snow flurries.) Surprisingly, the land portion went quickly, and it was the sky that took the most time. I finished today in the garage, looking out the window at my scene. I consider this a plein air piece, though some might argue with me.

"Virga Over Coxcomb"
3x4 FEET

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