An Artist’s Diary – Page 5

I have been so absorbed in this painting that I have neglected other responsibilities. I get away from it for a couple of days and balance my life a bit. I highly recommend this to artists and writers like myself who easily submerge in an alternate universe of their own making. When I return to the painting, I see it with  greater objectivity. – There is something off! – I allow myself a moment of panic, rage, despair. Then I gird up my loins and become my own art director, detached and rational, as I deliberate a course of action.

Ezy Boy’s head is a little too small for the rest of his massive body and his legs are a tad too short. In painting that great flurry of fur flinging out around his lower legs and hooves, I have left off the last leg joint beneath the hair. – I take one issue at a time. – I lay tracing vellum over the head and anchor it with tape. Some areas around it are still wet so I set a clear plastic “bridge” on the board to rest my hand on as I work. A leg of the bridge is resting in damp paint, but I leave it there until I am through. I can fix that little area easier than I can the larger one where my arm and hand must be braced to work. I always paint wearing a pair of those half-sleeve things that go from the elbow to the wrist so that I will not get paint on my arm or sleeves if they touch wet paint. I ordered them from a garden supply catalog. At this moment they are a help.

I begin pencil sketching the outline of a larger head on the tracing vellum. At intervals, I back away from it to re-check the ratio of head to torso. I suddenly notice that Ezy Boy’s face needed to be longer anyhow. I make several tries until the size and shape of the head are just right. Now I fill in the details of the face. Suddenly I realize that this new head makes the neck seem too short. I keep the head this new size, but the tracing of it higher up. Now I extend the neck upward to join it. These corrections are still in the pencil/vellum stage.

Adjusting his head and neck upward has cut into his mane. Now I must extend his mane as well to compensate. I lay a sheet of graphite transfer paper under the tracing vellum and transfer the sketch. This is tricky since the dark graphite line is going onto a medium to-dark, complex painting rather than the uncluttered white board so that the outline transferred is more difficult to see. Transfer paper comes in  colors other than the graphite black. Use these if you prefer. Finally the upper body corrections are re-painted.

I use the same basic method for re-doing the lower legs and hooves. Finally it is all done and Ezy Boy is looking good. Now I must repaint some of the background that has become marred while making these adjustments. I tell you all this (embarrassed, but honest). It is a classic “morality tale” of what happens when we misbehave by jumping into the fun part of painting without apropriate attention to good structure. Doing so, we risk landing in a “painter’s hell”.