Have a Good Time

I'm putting the finishing touches on Dr. Faustus (King Moon & the Rube) today, and pronouncing it finished. I promised myself I wouldn't overwork this one – and I think leaving some areas loose works to the benefit of the overall piece. 

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Next up is to stretch a new canvas and prepare for the next piece in this series, Hyperion. I ordered the book yesterday and should receive it in the next day or so. Never read it, and know only that it takes place in ancient Greece, and was written by Friedrich Hölderlin in 1797. 

Speed bump

I'm at that point that seems to happen to me in every painting. I clip along as quick as can be, thinking that I'm just a few sessions away from completion, and then Bam! I hit this speed bump where everything seems to grind to a snail's pace. I got some work done today, but I feel further from finishing the piece now than I did when I began. It's the drying time that's tripping me up. I made a couple big moves, and now need them to set before I can layer or mask on top of them. It's a frustrating part of the process.

Here's a look at where I finished up at the end of today's session. There's still so much I need to do, but can't risk meddling with it anymore today or risk smudging the wet areas:

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Doctor Faustus (King Moon & the Rube)

I spent a solid day in the studio yesterday fleshing out Doctor Faustus.

At this point the surface needs to dry before I can continue. I need to be able to mask parts off and it's currently impossible, the tape won't stick to the surface. Other areas are so fresh it would smear the paint and make a mess. I tried to add some translucent stripes over the right side of King Moon (currently just one messy blue stripe) and you can see how the paint got under the non-sticking tape, uuug. I don't hate it, it's okay if there's a messy stripe or two, but I'd like at least some of them to be nice and crisp like the solar rays in the upper left. 

Also need to complete the Rube's chair/cube/thing that he's sitting on. Soo much to dooo.

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Finding Faust

Having completed "Venus Bathing" (you can view the final work here), I've decided to return to oil painting through a series of illustrations of classical literature. 

To begin this venture, I pulled 'Doctor Faustus' by Christopher Marlowe off my bookshelf (never got around to reading it) and let the book fall open. The first sentences that I found read thus: "Ay marry, there spake a doctor indeed! And 'faith, I'll drink a health to thy wooden leg for that word." This was enough. From these sentences I will illustrate Doctor Faustus. I think of it as 'illustration out of context'. 

I had a bit of free time on a bus ride from Katowitze to Berlin last week to sketch a composition out in my notebook. From there I was able to create more detailed source material by photographing a willing subject and collaging in some fairytale imagery. It's a rough visual roadmap of where I intend the piece to go.

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I got some stretcher bars, built a frame and stretched it. Gessoed it in the past days, and laid down a background glaze of bright pink. This is going to be a fun one.

Jeopardising Flesh

I finally got back in the studio yesterday and made some progress.

It’s been so cold in recent weeks I’ve wanted to do nothing but cocoon myself in layers of blankets, but yesterday it was at least in the positive digits, so I blasted the heat and made the studio inhabitable.

I darkened the landscape surrounding the figures to help define them and give them some contrast. Also used some warm pink and orange to give the flesh some life. 

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There’s still a blue cast to the bodies so I may work even more warmth into them, but I’m going to hold off on making a final decision on that until I’ve had more time to look at the piece and decide if that’s really what I want to do. I don’t want to lose the impression of the environment merging with the figures, and pumping them up with too much fleshy colour might jeopardise that. 

I'm also going to work at lightening the bit on the left were the greenery meets the sky, I’d like it to fade back and blend a bit more. It's currently a bit too loud and too florid.

Here's a detail of my favourite figure in the bunch:

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Georg Baselitz at Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

I went over to see the Georg Baselitz show at Contemporary Fine Arts this afternoon. Highly recommended. It's up until March 3, 2018. Here's a look at some of the work on display:

Changing things up

As it's a new year I thought I would kick things off properly by cleaning up the studio and switching the wall I work on from the left side of the room to the right. I Spent the day cleaning, moving furniture around and putting up fresh paper to protect the wall. A new tarp is soon to follow, I just mopped and am waiting for the floor to dry before putting it down.

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I've been working on this acrylic painting, "Venus Bathing," after a painting of the same name by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée from 1776. So far so good.

I'm using this great new blue, or "petrol", from Swiss paint manufacturer Lascaux. It's pricey stuff, but so rich! That's a top-shelf blue, that. Very happy how the Lascaux blue towel plays off the cheaper store brand yellow towel. Only the best for this goddess. The white towel weirdly looks like a ghost. Perhaps I should fix that. 

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Elvira Bach at 68 Projects

Saw an exciting show of Elvira Bach paintings at 68 Projects – big and bold, with great colour. Here's a glimpse of what was on view: