Here’s how the piece ended yesterday afternoon. I’m really happy with the composition now – I’m enjoying the curve of the rocks from the left, beginning with the man then sweeping across and down to the crouching woman, followed by the ellipse of the bodies in the air. Very satisfactory. Moving the crouching female figure was essential – she was too high and too far into the frame of the picture. Now she’ll live right on the edge of the image, so that double ellipse will come right off the canvas with her. I have to do some correction work to the figure: there are obvious problems with her back and arms, the hands are wrong and she has no head, of course.Â
The paint’s getting super thick now, with all these reworkings. Some nice textures, but it’s pretty close to being TOO goopy for me. No more major changes!Â
A quick technical note: do you see that white sky? It’s going to cause trouble later when I want to put colour onto it, because the paint won’t want to stick properly. I also like to use white to control reworking and reduce confusion, as you can see in the new foreground figure, but sometimes whites form a slippery surface that makes the next layer of paint bubbly. My friendÂ Steve Aufhauser suggested I use a spray can of retouch damar varnish applied to the area I want to paint.Â The damar spray kills that bubble problem completely.
Steve literally grew up in his parents’ art supply store and there’s not a thing he doesn’t know about paint, so I ask him about any and all of my paint problems. He’s the guy who turned me onto Graham paint and their walnut alkyd medium when I was griping about turpentine.