i didn’t get to do much yesterday. but what i did do made a huge difference. but first of all, i lied about what i was going to do next. when i left the studio the night before last, i had in mind to complete the bottom the next day, and only then start on the reflections. but when i got down there yesterday afternoon, i decided to go ahead with the first layers of reflection. so sue me.
first i took some light blue paint that i’d been saving under a glass on my palette. i do this alot, saving paint from one painting to the next. i find it hard to throw away perfectly good pain just because ‘m finished with something. so i put the blue paint on where the reflections of the sky will go. and it was way too dark. there’s not enough contrast between the bottom and the surface to even be able to tell where i’ve got the blue.
i scumbled on the blue, to begin with , and burned it in. and the white in the mix started to tear apart immediately, of course. i kind of knew it would, so i didn’t go too far in heating up this layer of wax. it was apparent to me that i was going to have to put on another coat of blue, and much lighter. but in the meantime i wanted to get past the careful outlining of the rocks i’d been doing, and wanted to put a little atmosphere into it.
so i mixed up a very light batch of paint (meaning i used very little pigment and loads of wax, and thinned it down with orange oil until it was easily spreadable. i mixed in some white, added some cream colored paint i’d already mixed, stuck a little raw umber into it. it was a gray brown, and more waxy than painty. then i plopped several huge palette knives full of this paint onto the board. it landed with a very satisfying plop. spreading it with a palette knife was going to be difficult. i’d just bought a huge palette knife, but it would have spread the wax in a scumbling way (that is, leaving huge gaps between bits of paint) and i didn’t want that, so i discarded the knife and spread the paint with my hands. i love that part.
at that point i had to leave the studio for the day, and so i only melted a little bit of the new layer before it dried. so yesterday morning i came back into the studio and resumed burning in, which took forever because i only use a heat lamp and not a torch, which blows the was off the board if not handled properly.
when i was done melting in, i noticed that the water was now much more obscured than it had been. i had to be very careful melting this layer because of the white in it. i wanted it to melt as one sheet, and not break up, and over the dark lines it was very difficult to keep the white from bubbling open and letting the dark come thru. however, close up it looks marvelous. and after a few more layers the bubbling will be widespread. i just thought i’d limit it at the beginning.
i’m going to deal with the cloudiness of the water later. first i’m going to put on the brighter sky reflections, and burn that in. and then perhaps i’m going to have to lay in some raw umber over the shadowed parts of the water. and maybe i’m going to have to restate some of the lines, and put some highlights on some of the underwater rocks. time will tell, and at this point it’s a question of balancing the elements rather than being a slave to the photo.
one thing i did do, however, was deal with the foreground rocks. they needed to be more brown than pink, so i mixed up some burnt sienna and slapped it on, and then burnt it in, mainly on the bit of rock that’s just barely underwater, but i used some burnt sienna over some of the black lines on the dry rock, too. and then i put another coat of the light wax i’d stuck over the water, back over the foreground rock so it would still look underwater.
anyway, it’s rather a mess at this point, but the more i look at it the better it gets.
that’s always been my goal in painting. i want the scene to look so real you can walk out into it. but not to make it look like a photo. there are other kinds of real.