Three words (BtS)

So, this one is working up so fast, I haven’t marked my ‘three words’ for it yet.

‘Behind the Sun’ is one of my most color intensive pieces to date. “Color” is a key to this piece. And, as I try to do in all my color pieces, colors move around the piece. Always use a color in more than one space, to keep the elements of the art unified. Violet makes an appearance in the shading of the sun, as well as in the mixing of the cooler purples of the moon. It also is used to shade the browns in Earth.

The brilliant yellow in the sun also appears in the mixing of browns, golds and greens in Earth.

Let’s see…

‘Perspective’ is important in this piece. Not the concept of perspective as an art term, but the concept of looking from a certain point. You are behind the sun, watching Raven and the planets dance.

The framework of ‘Behind the Sun’ is meant to be a series of interlocking puzzle pieces, building blocks of the universe, framing a moment of the planetary dance. Everything is a part of a greater whole. Color, shape, movement and music are parts of the piece. I suppose ‘pieces’ will bring that to mind.

‘Color’ and ‘Perspective’ and ‘Pieces’ of the puzzle. These are words for ‘Behind the Sun’ that should help me focus on the important elements.



Three words and a photo (Ps)

As I have been working on the actual sketch of the Pookah, my ideas on what the final picture should look like have gotten more concrete.

A heavy border of spiral work, dense with detail, and shining with intense autumn colors. So one word for this piece will be “intense” and another would be “detailed”.

What other word will I focus on? I’m not necessarily focused on movement, as the Pookah is somewhat frozen in time, and the spirals I’ve chosen are less flowing than some designs. It has the feeling of a snapshot of a second in time. Everything stops moving so I can catch it in a painting. Perhaps “potential” is the word I want, a feeling that everything keeps moving as soon as I’m done. I want a feeling of ’stop’ then, when the painting is done, it can continue.

I also want a feeling much like A. Rackham’s black and white illustrations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Der Ring des Nibelungen. Detailed, but not necessarily realistic.

So, we’ll go with “potential”, “detailed” and “intense”.

Below is a photo of the final design for the border of spirals for the Pookah.

A Pookah Encountered - border detail

A Pookah Encountered - border detail


Three words (HrK)

‘Hall of the Raven King’ is proceeding apace. I have finished two layers of rabbitskin glue, added the muslin sheeting, and the gesso is drying.

NOTE: Forgot to mention two things about rabbitskin glue. First, do not boil the solution as it loses adhesiveness. Second, do not reheat congealed glue, as it also reduces adhesiveness.

Anyway. Gesso. The undercoat of a piece of artwork is something to consider when planning your colors. Gessos are primarily white, as white does not add anything to the colors of your paints. Even opaque paints can be affected by the undercoat.

I do not use acrylic paints very often, as I like the luminosity of watercolor and I’ve mentioned the list of reasons I like to work with tempera in another post. I find acrylics a bit rubbery and lacking a feeling of light. This may be my lack of experience with acrylics, but I usually avoid using them. In this case, however, I wanted to be able to layout color blocks of background and layer on the detailed Celtic design without having the background and foreground do any blending. Acrylic is very useful for this sort of technique, and I am using ’soft body’ acrylics by Liquitex which will suit my more watercolor style as they are far more fluid than tube acrylics.

I have an extremely detailed layout, primarily a seascape crafted of Celtic design elements. It has a very stylized and ‘old manuscript’ feel to it, especially as I used an old medieval illumination of Jerusalem to help me layout the towers and gates of the Hall.

I decided to challenge myself with a drastically limited color palette, selecting two colors to go with black and white tones. Quinacridone Violet and Permanent Green Dark are my color selections. They fall nearly opposite on the color wheel. Shadows and tones will be provided only with black and white. I am hoping, with these colors, to maintain a feeling of things being ‘bleak’ and ‘unreal’ as I work up the spirals and twisting knots.

To add to this, I have used black gesso as an undercoat, and black as a mixer on the palette. One of the first things you learn in art class is not to use black, but to develop other colors within the painting to provide shadows and darks that are not black but appear so to the eye. Here, I am using black. I want the feeling of gloom that a black mix will provide. The black gesso will affect the colors, which are not completely opaque. I’m thinking of a mix between Patrick Fitzgerald and Edward Gorey. And if you get both of those artistic references, we should talk.

As a whole, the piece should feel a bit unfinished or even shoddy. Worn. Maybe damaged. The board is not squared, and I have allowed edges of the muslin sheeting to show. I kept the gesso thin and I did not build up a smooth surface. The texture of the muslin and glue is rough under my first layers of paint. Black gesso, applied in almost a dry-brush technique, is bringing out the fabric crosshatching and wood grain near the unsanded edges and corners.

‘Bleak, unreal, damaged’ are my words for this piece.



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