Monday, June 25, 2012

27 Dresses Series #6: "Blowin' in the Wind"

"Blowin' in the Wind" 10 x 8" Oil on RayMar oil primed linen.
SOLD     Copyright 2012 Debra Joyce Dawson
This is the second of 5 paintings I did on the streets of Annapolis, MD, this one on April 20.

A little technical stuff here: #1. Why try oil-primed linen? Me, I don't often paint on linen, but so many artist's rave about it, that I decided to buy a 10 pack of oil-primed linen panels from RayMar, maybe 2 years ago. It's expensive, and of course one wants to save it for a great painting, still one never knows when that GREAT painting will come along. I still have 4 of the original linen panels left, and I took 3 of those to the Paint the Adirondacks event to make better friends with them.

"Green Rain" (posted November 1, 2011)
was also painted on oil-primed linen.

#2. The feel of oil-primed linen: the paint glides across the surface, and if you aren't careful, it will lift right off as well. That's why I was able to work a long time on "Green Rain", push and pull, lift and change that paint on that surface, until I found the statement I could live with. But I found that in 'Green Rain', there is very little paint on the surface, with most of the texture being the texture of the linen itself. For one like me, who likes paint texture, I knew I'd have to work on figuring it out. Students often ask me to show them how to lay down wet oil paint over wet oil paint, and it is all about the amount of paint on your brush or knife, and how much pressure you apply it with. This oil-primed linen factors in more slickness in the process. And frankly, I am not sure if what I purchased was the single or the double prime, or what the difference in feel that might have!!!!
#3. Toning the surface: I almost always tone the surface I am working on for two reasons:
      a. I use no medium in my plein air work, so using a little OMS mixed with paint, then wiping it down gives the surface a little less drag factor, not a lot, but some - and this is especially important if I am doing a palette knife painting.
     b. I also tone to get rid of the glaring white surface, hard on these aging eyes. And if you are painting something that is white (and we all know white has color, right?), white always sings best applied over something that is darker.
     The oil-primed linen has a slight greyish tone, so no glaring white. But I have still toned it, not realizing how slick it already was. NEXT TIME, I'll change things up and not tone the surface, to see what happens.
#4. What I did in 'Blowin' in the Wind': I toned the surface with Transparent Oxide Red mixed with a little OMS, and wiped the surface with a VIVA paper towel. While I waited for some of the OMS to evaporate, I did my little thumbnail sketch. I started the painting by blocking in my darks by barely breathing the slightly thinned transparent paint onto the surface, which is really easy to do on this oil-prime.
#5. Photographing this painting: I'll admit, I am the world's worst at taking photos of my work. Heavens forbid I ever want to make a book. However, this painting was really hard to photograph. There is a natural kind of sheen to this surface, so glare is hard to deal with, even though I took the photos after the painting had dried and with no varnish. It seems you can see right through the thin layer of darks, back to the layer of the oxide red tone. I know that all my darks were applied thinly and are transparent paints to start with, but the camera seemed to heighten the separation in those layers more than I could see with the naked eye. Oh that camera's eye! It picks up all of the texture, and glare of the sheen and lightened the entire image. It was maddening! Photoshop Elements, here I come.

#6. Making corrections: I made one or two small corrections to this painting when I got it ready for my current exhibition at Sharon Weiss Gallery. The paint glided onto the surface easily and without fuss, and I don't think anyone viewing it would know where the corrections were made. (This photo is before the corrections were made.)
All in all, I haven't used this surface often enough to know if I will go the extra expense to keep it in my painting bag of tricks. However, I did just order another 10 panels. This surface certainly worked out well for "Blowin' in the Wind". I didn't find myself 'thinking' about the surface, fighting or struggling with it. I do like to experiment with a variety of surfaces, whether drawing or painting, but I hate that feeling of fighting a surface, like a fish struggling to go upstream. In this painting, I went with the flow, and was happy with the result.

Epilogue: I had two instances in the Adirondacks where I was fighting the surface, one was on a RayMar panel I'd bought years ago, the medium canvas surface. This is the surface that I hate, way too much drag of me, and I wound up putting an extra coat of prime on these panels and sanding them to get a resonable surface. Now I buy the RayMar Smooth Canvas and love it.

I had the opposite feeling of NO RESISTANCE AT ALL while using an oil primed linen panel with a Rosemary Ivory brush. Wow! I will post these failed attempts when I get my luggage back today.
Any of you with more experience using linen as your surface, and I would appreciate hearing your experiences with linen with an oil prime, or with another type of prime. And what do you think of Rosemary Brushes? We have been having an ongoing discussion about these brushes this past week in the Adirondacks.

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