The temperature here in Heavenish (it’s no longer quite as Heavenly as it once appeared) hit temperature highs yesterday I’ve never experienced here. Bear, Teddy and I were all shocked, and talking with a friend on the phone, I learned not only were Bear, Teddy and I shocked but she and her husband were, too. Her husband had even retreated to an activity he usually only does in winter — a jigsaw puzzle.
One thing that happens in the heat is that oil paints get more schmushy and easier to move around. This is good and bad.
That only makes sense, but who would think of it? All except the holy lapis ultramarine which, I think, is blended differently, a higher concentration of pigment to linseed oil, because it’s SO transparent. If it were made like other oil paints, it would just be a wash. The current painting isn’t relying on it much. I think I just put it on my brush from time to time because it feels like a friend. It’s a fact of life that not everything is blue.
As I was painting — with a very small brush — I heard my high school art teacher yelling, “Don’t use such small brushes! Get back from your canvas!!” No way to placate that man. I think he was a good art teacher, just not for me. Some really fine (and now famous) artists came out of Mr. Frost’s art room. I owe him a lot, too. From him I learned how I didn’t want to teach, even though, at the time I was in his “power” I had no thought of becoming a teacher.
I thought yesterday, “Mr. Frost, it’s not the brush or how close you are to the canvas. It’s what you’re doing with the brush and the canvas.” This morning I thought of a photo of Marc Chagall painting only a few inches from his canvas using a tiny brush. Godnose, Chagall’s paintings are not “tight.”
My new art materials book — which was written in the 11th century — gives a formula for mixing European flesh tones. Yesterday, looking at the woman, her hand, and her face, I went to my box of paints and got the components of my usual flesh recipe. Then I looked at the paint that was already on my palette. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Why not?” I mixed flesh according to the recipe offered by Theophilus and I loved it. Easier to use, easier to shade and?
Sadly, I was in too much of a hurry to see how things were going to look and painted the woman’s face while her jacket was still wet. OH well. That’s why God made rags, but the color? A reminder that I need to think about that face — draw it? — before I try again to paint it.
Paintings always tell me when to quit for the day and stuff like that happens when I don’t listen. There are still a lot of things wrong with this piece, but no one said it had to be a masterpiece. I have the cranes ahead of me and that is a physical problem because I’m not tall enough to reach some of them. I’ll probably lay my easel flat and paint them that way.