Raising the levels: Day 16, Nov.16, 2009

It’s no wonder painters are thought to be a bit mad. This is an up-and-down business. Last night, after looking at the masonite panel photos on the web, I went into despair. I had done them under a window on a white table. They were without glare, but definitely garish. I woke up thinking dark thoughts.

However, I began my Studio Monday by cleaning up my mineral spirits. When in doubt, scrub (metaphorically speaking) the floor. Something about clean mineral spirits always lifts mine — gets rid of the sludge, both literally and metaphorically.

So I tackled the panels again, rehearsing my cool AM light/ warm PM light and got rid of most of the foreground elements (the garish ones in particularly) on the right hand side, where the scenes start in the middle distance and go back from there. I doodled a bit on the left.

Here are the latest versions of Board Panels 1 and 2 (both AM, on the right)

The Amargosa desert (Panel 1), 12 x 16″, oil on masonite, 2009

The Amargosa Desert (Panel #2), 12 x 16, oil on masonite, 2009

I got rid of the oogie foreground flowers in both these panels, and they are better for it, believe me.

And when I finished with that, I started in on the big linen panels.

I needed to get the skies done so I can raise the panels so I can do the mid/fore grounds without laying down on the floor. For some odd reason, this morning I used “real” oils instead of the cheap ones that I had brought to start the project (maybe because by now it’s a bit late to be thinking of “starting.”) What a difference a good paint makes! The linen panels got covered. The skies, while perhaps not completely done, are done enough that they can be left to mix a bit with one another while I do the foreground (on the left) and the mid-ground (on the right). The addition of deep shadow on the left of the masonite panels makes me think that might work well with the linen ones also.

Here’s the first raisings:

The panels look better raised; they are more centered to the eye. So it will be fun to see them now that I will be using good paint and a better viewpoint. Unlike the masonite panels, these aren’t facing much glare, which makes painting easier, and the colors better. I also fixed some other oogie places on the linens, which gave me a great sigh of relief.

Tomorrow I will raise the rest of the panels (I stopped with three today). I didn’t want to raise them unless Jer was nearby because I don’t feel all that confident about standing on a ladder above a concrete floor out of hearing, sight, and knowledge of other human beings. But he’ll stick around tomorrow until I finish getting them up. (He’ll volunteer to raise them, but his clothes are not all covered with paint; mine are. Raising the panels full of wet paint isn’t exactly a tidy task.)

The weather got warmer today, so I could remove my coat (but not my vest, my turtleneck, nor my long underwear). Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer, and I’m thinking of doing a quick jaunt for some plein air down the valley. I want to paint some parts of the Bare Mountain that are blocked from view at the Barn by the mine tailings from the Barrick Gold mine leftovers.

Here are a couple of close-up photos of the Bare Mountains that we took on the way home this evening.

I’m a bit reluctant to take time away from the big linen panels for the plein air work, but I’ve had a special request and the weather isn’t going to get much better than this. And the colors are irresistible, particularly as the sun is just setting.

Reporting, after pizza at the Sourdough Saloon, from the Goldwell House, in Beatty, Nevada.