I spent the morning taking care of administration then got to work after lunch. The studio looks great right now after a big clean up courtesy of our student worker Marianne, who is doing a great job of getting things straight.
I managed to get nearly all of the birds laid down except for a few that need to go close to the seated figure, so that the birds are more clearly emerging from him. I’m enjoying the swirl of birds rising from the bottom of the panel, which looks much more as it will when it’s hung now that it’s raised up a couple of feet on the easel. I’m not entirely certain if the man is sitting on the box now, as a cube. It’s an interesting possibility, suggesting the freemasons’ “perfect ashlar” that represents the work of quarrying away imperfections from the rough stone to reveal the square, upright and true man within.Â By making his chair an ashlar I can add another layer of meaning to the alchemical allegory of the crows.Â
I’ll need to sand down the area covered by the figure so that the paint will adhere to the rabbit skin glue that holds the gold leaf. The gold leaf is not burnished, so it can be a treacherous surface to paint on. If the gold were laid onto a gesso surface it would sit into the surface incredibly smoothly, particularly when burnished. In this case it’s laid down onto canvas, which even stretched over the panel provides a more flexible, textured and consequently less reliable surface. However, the canvas stretched over a panel makes a really great surface for painting on. You can’t have your cake and eat it too…