A pleasant couple of hours in the studio this evening proved productive, with enough time to add a second layer of dark leaves overlapping the earlier work. I’m getting more familiar with the pattern of the leaves and enjoying the swoop of the branches more this time around, so there’s a bit more of a feeling of movement to the leaves now as they curve across the sky. I didn’t make it all the way across the painting, but I’m pretty happy to have got this far and I enjoyed the presence of several of my painting students diligently working to prepare their panels for class Tuesday morning. Theyâ€™re producing icons from scratch, learning every step of the way, from composition and drawing transfer to panel preparation and gilding, finally painting the image and finishing the pieces for display in our chapel.
Right now the leaves look a bit peculiar – they’re painted in blue in the first layer because the transparent green glaze that will go on next will finish darker and richer than the last layer on the previous leaves because of the blue beneath them, their darker value giving the illusion of bringing them forward in the piece and making the tree feel deeper, with denser branches. There are no bright highlights here on the edges of the foliage as there were on the earlier layer which I started in the light grey, so I’m expecting these leaves to feel more contained inside the foliage of the tree canopy, hopefully giving us the feeling of being within the shade of the acacia as we observe the traveler passing by.
This morning I sat and looked at the painting for thirty minutes or so to figure out what I needed to do next. I often sit for long periods when the work is getting closer to finishing. I think this period of looking is very important to really refine a painting because I see little things more clearly if I spend time to look carefully, making notes to correct little errors and omissions and making the piece really complete.