Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 Archives

I decided to make a brief post about painting the background of the Golden Bowl. It took quite a while, because there were a lot of fiddly bits that needed attention to soften the edges into each other. If you don’t soften the edges of a background they will “jump” and bring whatever that edge is to the front of the painting. It’s an illusion caused by the focus of our eyes – if you look a tree up close it’s crisp, high contrast and colourful, while that same tree at half a mile distance will look blurry, muted and grey. We can use this effect in painting by making the things we want to pop forward more defined, sharp-edged and rich in colour, while those things (like edges) that we want to drop back into the background are softened. A very handy trick.

Soft edges

In between preparing the canvases for the virtues I managed to get a layer of black onto the lower part of the painting, making a far darker composition which I like very much. The sky will get a layer of blue, which I’ll carry over into the figures and black layer for continuity, then rag it off so that the figures emerge from the dark background. There’s still work to do to get the figures right, there are areas which are not close to being done yet. I hope to get to them tomorrow. Getting closer by degrees…

I’m not thrilled with the way the guy at front right is popping off the canvas, so I’ll probably drop his legs back into the shadows a lot more than they are right now, and I think the shadows on the flesh and clothing of all the characters are far too light, so I expect to work at them too.

I want to warm up the flesh tones a bit, they all look a bit too pale and unhealthy. Bunch of vampires.

I’ve stretched canvas to three panels for the virtues, slapped on three coats of gesso to prime them (with the help of my son, who now thinks forest fires are terrific because he has no school today – is this how pyromaniacs are created?) and I should be ready to start painting them very soon. It feels great to be back into the studio work after this spotty period of studio time. 

There seems to be a pattern of slightly scattered down-time after the opening of any show, followed by a renewal of intensity. So perhaps this is the beginning of the new period of intense work as I start worrying about the Glendale show. I do find having an exhibit deadline immensely helpful. I’d better get busy finding some gallery shows for 2009 – 2010. Don’t want to leave it too late, because curators book about a year or two ahead in their scheduling (you have to be very patient if you want a gallery exhibit).

I do have to get the Halloween Festival organized, so it might be pretty crazy for a couple of weeks – we have to get my exhibit down and install Sean Sobczak’s light sculptures into the gallery on the weekend of the 25th. (Don’t miss your last chance to see the Principle in it’s current incarnation!) I’m grokking the Alchemy conference in fullness now, and I think it goes into my story as one of the most significant events I’ve been to for spiritual and personal growth. I feel re-energized and full of enthusiasm that I am on the right path. Breathing the air in the Red Rocks canyon was transformative, to say the least.

Take me to the river…



Ethan and I took the mighty hound up into the mountains behind the house to see what the fire had done to our landscape, with Ethan particularly concerned to visit the golden fish that bizarrely live in a concrete cattle pool a half mile up the trail. It’s a very different place today. We found it hard to find a way around to the pool,  blocked by broken branches and chain-sawed logs. Firefighters had to cut trees and clear areas of brush to create firebreaks, so the pale tracks and scrapings of the earth movers stand out strongly against the thin layer of fine black ash covering the land. The lower ten feet of the trees are charred black. while the tops appear dried out, but still green. Once in a while we saw birds and butterflies, who are probably feeling a bit lost right now. 

Next year the land will be beautiful – the spring flowers are going to be glorious. 

After the fire