Works in Progress #4

The Dang Thing Never Worked

October 24, 2003

This is the third painting of my tractor series and one of the hardest to pull off. It is a study of contrasts of cool and warm blues that push the tractor out toward the viewer and makes the brilliant blue sky recede. It is a fairly monochomatic image with a few spots of red wires to add drama and interest.

I am not looking forward to doing the mass of exposed wires in the center of the piece. It's easy to paint the wrong wire the wrong color or make an area black when it should have color. One way I try to avoid problems like that is to make a visual grid and line up the areas that I am painting with vertically and horizontally fixed points from the original photograph and drawing.

The Dang Thing Never Worked #1

At this point the sky is completely finished but there were problems painting that area. The sky is layered with different shades of Prussian Blue and Cobalt. A bloom in the lower sky appeared when that section dried. It followed the outline of the hood of the tractor over to the steering wheel. As I brought my graduated wash down inside the steering wheel and fading it into the tractor seat, my extra wash water sat too long on the left side of the tractor.

A bloom happens when a section of wet wash travels back into the upper part of the wash that has already dried. An edge remains when the very wet wash dries. This effect can be very desirable for skies with clouds but not for this painting.

I decided that the shape of the steering wheel created problems so I used my frisket/maskoid to make it resist the washes. That way, I could just paint vertical lines of my graduated washes right over the steering wheel. It keeps the wheel white and ready for washes when I am done with the sky.

To compensate for the drying problem, I turned the painting upside down and subsequently did my sky layers going from light to dark starting at the tractor and ending at the top of the sky. This is the reverse of every wash every taught but it worked for this piece. I had three different wells of blue mixed for the sky and started out very dry without a lot of pigment. My first wash was very light with little pigment and lots of water. Then I added a medium value Cobalt wash for the middle and finished with a very saturated Prussian Blue wash. This wash was repeated at least ten times. To shorten the drying time and make sure that a bloom did not reappear, I used a small hair dryer.

Because I was pulling the wash away from the complicated outlines of the tractor and ending in a simple dark wash at the top of the painting, I eliminated the bloom problem. I had to make the sky darker than I had planned to hide the bloom. I also used a three inch wide wash brush loaded with clear water on it and brushed it hard against the paper in horizontal lines to pick up the edges of the bloom. There are ways to save a messed up sky.

The body of the tractor is painted with some staining colors like Thalo Blue because they have so much punch. I used a very yellowish blue by Holbein called Cobalt Turqouise Light. My other blues were Ultramarine Blue, and Cerulean. For the reds and rust, I'll use Burnt Sienna and Windsor Red. In some parts, there is a hint of green. Viridian is an exact match.

November Status
November 4, 2003
Dang Thing
Finished December 10, 2003

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