Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easel Apron! and notes to self - how to approach learning oil painting

First the fun stuff - with pics!

The white cloth is my Easel Apron. I've been struggling with what to wear to protect my clothes when I paint, and I've tried various options. A lab coat, hospital gowns, scrubs, and finally I got myself a huge oversize denim shirt with long sleeves and today I rigged up the easel apron. Of the rather clinical options I started with the hospital gowns seemed like a nice idea - easy to tie behind your back to put on and take off, but the fabric is too thin and paint would go through it pretty easily onto your clothes. The lab coat isn't bad at all, but I'd want one a good deal bigger to go on over whatever I'm wearing under it. Also I didn't like that it only goes just past the knees - I want to keep paint off the bottom of my jeans and my shoes as well!

The scrubs aren't bad, especially when I bought the pants like 3 sizes too big in a Big and Tall size, they go on over my jeans (even with shoes on) and are so long they half cover my shoes. But I want to protect the ends of my shoes too! Has nobody ever faced these problems before? Or I guess they all just settle for halfway measures and end up trashing some shoes and pants. Or only wear old clothes when painting.

I was looking at long aprons, but none of them are long enough. I want them to completely cover my shoes with room to spare - and of course you can't walk around in an apron that long. So nobody makes them.

The I remembered the Micro-Mark toolshop apron. Something jewelers use, and people working with extremely small parts that would get completely lost if you drop them. It's basically just an apron that you tack to the bottom edge of the table - anything you drop falls into the lap of the apron (including paintbrushes, or my ceramic palette cups). I tried it with my denim shop apron - not bad, but I wanted it wider and preferably some totally impervious material. I had this packing cloth laying there right close at hand, which is soft and fluffy on one side and plastic coated or something on the other. At first I just laid it in place to try the size etc, and was considering adding loops and strings to make it like a standard apron. Then I realized - there's no need! Why does it need to be attached to me? So that if I get up to answer the phone or something I pull my entire painting and easel down onto the floor? Instead I just clipped it in place on the table, tucked under the easel, and when I sit down I lay it over my lap - the oversize shirt does the rest. Easy to get in and out, totally impervious. Pretty ideal it seems. Time will tell I suppose. Thought - I should flip it over - if very liquid paint hits the plastic side it will run down and onto my pants and shoes - but if the absorbent side is up it would largely absorb it.

Ok wow, I really wrote the hell out of that! WTF??!! Fun though. Now on to the boring notes..

Important to learn - what kind of strokes can be made with what kind of brushes, and the consistency of paint required for them.

I was just upstairs painting over the Frazetta study and was trying to paint some very thin blackish marks using several different small brushes - no real success yet. Tried a script liner, using very fluid paint like ink - but it's too transparent. I'm using only walnut alkyd medium - maybe adding oil would help? I suspect I need to pay a lot more attention to exactly how much paint is in the mix.

I also have come to believe it's a lot like drawing figures in charcoal in certain ways - after a while you develop a catalog of basic strokes that you know well and know what you can do with them, and you keep getting better at using them, till you can go thick-thin in a single stroke where you want to without losing control. So I want to start doing practice sheets - pages of nothing but different types of strokes. I also want to start doing gesture sketches in paint - just like my current Croquis Cafe sketches in charcoal, only in oil paint. That way I'll really learn how to draw and think in paint.

In fact I've decided I need to concentrate for a while on the early stages of making a painting - the sketch and the wash-in. Or maybe even skip the wash-in and work directly with undiluted paint, no medium and no oil or thinner added. This is how a lot of alla prima artists work, adding more medium/oil as they go.

Developing in this way, I should be able to start working alla prima in a while. When I've gotten good at the early stages, it's not much of a stretch to just finish a painting using those techniques. I can always stop and let it set up overnight, finish with glazes if I want to, or just continue working direct and finish alla prima.

No comments:

Post a Comment