three hour painting
I’m taking a ground-up painting class this semester. There are certain holes in my painting (like how to build a good stretcher) that I want to fill. Today we kicked off the painting part of the course with a “show up with a photo to work from and a prepared surface, finish something by the end of class”. The studio part of the class is from 1-3:45 and we spent the last half hour (running over to 4) discussing them. The actual painting was pretty much free-painting with little commentary- basically the professor getting to see where we were all starting from. I took another half hour after class to touch up, and I’d like to touch up some more, but I like what came out of this.
I took the image from a library of congress photo by Alfred Palmer of a woman building a B52 bomber. I cropped it, desaturated it and mucked with contrast and shadows before using it as a source. The original photo is full color.
My thought was that if I was supposed to work from a photo was that I wanted to get some of the qualities of photography into the painting and black and white helped do that. At the same time I decided to use three blacks (warm, neutral, cold), so it’s not exactly a monochrome painting. Knowing I would have only 3 hours and have to cart it back wet to the studio I worked small.
It felt good to work wet-on wet on a neutral grey background. I’ve never done it before. With representational painting I have been working more in layers. I also really enjoyed diving into Flake White- much more silky and less chalky than titanium white, but more opaque than zinc white- a good match for the photo feel I thought. It’s not done but I’d like to finish this one. I like the circle of machine surrounding the woman- organic, mechanical… it was a good painting session.
I’m so often pushing the edge with new processes and materials that I forget how easily things come now when it’s just paint.