my sewing room 4


i’m deepening the shadows. i began dilineating the chair, which i’d been avoiding up until now, just like i’m still avoiding the dresser in the foreground. but i’ve done a lot with grays, unfortunately the shortcut taken (black plus white rather than blue red and yellow).

i can see that the whole thing is rather tilted beyond the distortion of the digital lens of my fuji coolpix, which is the low end of digital cameras. never mind that, i wish the sound recording part of my digital camera still worked so that i could put sound on my youtube videos of my grandson.

i’m very bothered by one detail of badly drawn perspective. the top of the baseboard molding on the left is way wrong, or maybe it’s the bottom of the molding. and i still think the lines fo the dresser drawers on the right could use a better eye.

i’ll turn the painting upside down and look at the lines from that angle, and i’ll be able to fix them easily that way.


i’m almost at the end now. i mixed up all the strange colors for the fabrics, bright blues, purples, scarlets. i was very frustrated, because no matter how heavily i mixed in the pigment, it was transparent, and hardly made a dent on the underlying color. only if i mixed white in would it be opaque. and that maddens me. so i’m going to have to go back over the blues and purples several times, and that means letting the wax paste dry, and that means waiting. if i go in too soon with more, i only rub up what’s underneath because of the solvent.. but i encountered that problem in oil painting. when i’d try to do too much too fast it’d just glop up. so patience. i put in the scene out the window, the lawns, the tree, the distant buildings and trees, the blue sky all of maybe 2 inches wide.

everything’s almost there. except that i have to do something to almost everything. the floor needs its lines and the shadows restated, the dresser needs to look like wood, the sewing machine needs its knobs, the material needs to look like it’s draped, the box of rolled up patterns needs to look like cardboard and craft paper, the books in the racks need colors.

of course, the real sewing room looks nothing like this. in the time since i started this picture, i have filled those top two shelves and piled things on top of the box of newsprint lower down. the cat’s sitting on the sewing table, there’s electronic junk piled up underneath on the floor, and i’ve been only waiting to finish the painting before the table and sawhorses leaning up against the wall go to be my silk table in the bedroom, and the folding screen in front of it hangs out on the porch to block the view so i can keep my bedroom door open all night for the breezes.

but i’m not quite done yet. i have to fix those angles, i have to keep laying down material colors on the chair and the blanket rack. the other room has to be finished, including can you tell that’s a painting on the far wall? and i’m not done with the view outside either. the lights need work, the sewing maching, like i said before.

i’m at the point where i’m liking this painting again. i started out being compelled to do it because of the perfect way the scene looked when i saw it suddenly, right after having actually arranged it. oooh i must do a painting – why not an encaustic? i’ve been doing still lives of my rooms for many years, bookshelves, kitchen, stove, etc. whatever looks so perfectly arranged that it’s like being in a museum. well, because of jim’s taste in renovation and decoration, i do live in a museum, and there are a dozen paintings i could do that are simply perfect little interiors begging to be painted. and jim’s encouraging that. he wants to see the bookshelf, the dresser, the pantry, the altar of love, the mummy display.

in the middle of doing the painting, i didn’t like it as much. it was in that ugly middle stage, where everything is awkward and difficult, where there are more problems to be solved than enthusiasm cells for going on. i’ve left a few paintings at that stage, and never went back to them. then threw them out so i never could. but persistence handles all those objections, and anyway finishing is what makes a painting. not the broad underpainting, but the tight expressive little dashes of highlights and rich deep darks. all those details.

but now i’m to where most of it looks like what it is, and that’s where i’m satisfied and stop working on it. because where is there to go after you’ve got it looking like itself? sign it and start on something else.

so only one more session and i’ll stop, i almost promise.

after i finish that by god i’m going to deal with the material  slung over the back of the chair, which is an unfinished wall hanging for my friend kerstin who got me a gift certificate to an art supply place, bless her heart. and when i’m done with that, the silk table goes up and i figure out how to make regular acid silk dyes from fiber-reactive mx dyes. it’s a simple formula involving salt and vinegar but it’s not widely known because… damn just get silk dye in liquid form or get the powdered acid dyes. don’t try to reinvent the wheel. you always take the hardest path from one place to another. that’s why you’re a loser.

i’ve had family members say this to me.

i like reinventing the wheel. it keeps me active. i struggle to find my own answers instead of relying on received wisdom, and really enjoy innovating when it actually works. and there’s nothing more infuriating than to tell me there’s only one way to do whatever. because there’s always another way, and if i have to find it myself i’ll do it just to show you.


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