Thursday, August 20, 2009

Block Plane

oil on canvas 51x41cm

This is the same block plane as in last month’s ‘Three Watercolours’, but a lot bigger and using oil paint. Finished last Thursday.

The painted image is about three times the actual size of the subject and the set-up presented a few problems. The plane and the canvas were both just over 2ft away - I had to make tape footprints on the floor and stand in them so as to keep my point of view constant. Everything was so close that I was able to dispense with my glasses (multi-focal plus a slight astigmatism) and work without the distortions that they sometimes produce. I quite enjoyed that for a change, but it did mean that my nose was almost on the canvas, and some of my initial drawing went a bit astray. I spent a day and a half rectifying that, which was annoying.

The palette is very limited – all the greys of the plane were made with burnt and raw umbers with ultramarine, and I used a tiny bit of yellow ochre and burnt sienna in the wedge. I used flake white in most of the initial work, and the thicker paint, and slightly boosted it with titanium white in the odd highlight. For the soft translucent washes of the paper towel I used the more transparent zinc white. As an experiment, I painted the acrylic priming with a good quality French Grey satin finish alkyd, which produced a very nice tone and texture to paint on, and should be fine for several or more decades.

As usual I was listening to old comedy on BBC Radio7 while painting, but I had recently come across Michael Nyman’s ‘Fish Beach’ and started each session with it. During the period of painting this, Madam and I were watching the final couple of series of ‘Six Feet Under’ every evening, which was quite intense. Very melancholy stuff.

Overall I’m quite pleased with this one; the size is just about right, the strokes are neither over-fussy nor slapdash, and, I managed to write about it without once alluding to its progress as being Plane Sailing.

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