veils

a veil is a coat of white paint, very thin over the existing paint.  it obscures the color beneath it, but not all the way.  it’s a translucent coat, a desaturating coat, a graying coat.  it’s great for toning things down or lightening things up, without really changing the color.  on the contrary, a glaze is a thin coat of dark paint.  you can barely tell you’ve put a veil or glaze over the paint, but it makes a big difference, especially if you use a few coats.  you can build them up for various effects.  in fact, the ancients (ehehee classical painters, some schools of them) made the whole painting in shades of gray, and only at the end did they come in with glazes and veils, thin coats of paint to lay color over a well-built underpainting.  jim still paints this way sometimes.  i’ve never been able to master it.  the fact that i’m using shades of gray is completely overwhelming to me for some reason.

anyway, today i spent most of the day putting on white.  the raw umber white is all very well, but i needed some real white, so i mixed some up, tainted by only the slightest dab of blue, and gave up on the brush on, wipe off routine.  i got tired of it.  and it wasn’t working fast enough.  and if the coat of white is thin enough, it vanishes into the surface anyway.  so i brushed on white paint, and instead of wiping it off, i brushed it completely out.  and all one way, so that i would leave streaks.  when i put the coat of white and blue on the denim shirt, i was very careful to brush this way, and then brush that way, lighter and lighter, until finally i wasn’t leaving brush strokes anymore, and my surface was nice and smooth.  but for the jeans, i wanted texture, grain, weave.  that’s why the seams are glued down to the sculpture, so that i have physical texture to convince the eye.  it makes my job that much easier, because as you’ll notice i’m still putting in way many hours for the scale of this project.  however, since i’m having fun, i consider it a labor of love, and don’t care if i’m only making $0.07 an hour.

a few coats of white on the pants made them look pretty convincing.  i let each coat dry fully, because if it’s wet, you can brush it up, and then white piles up in some places and goes off of others, and you have big blotches.  it’s easy to screw this up, and you have to be in good form to do it.  every part of the work from here on out demands that i be at my best, and i just have to stop late in the evening when i start to get sloppy.  sloppy means letting a drop or streak of paint dry, and then that means scraping it off later, which will expose the white of the dolphin, and then i’ll have to repaint, and match colors, and sometimes it’s easier to repaint the entire part.

so it’s crucial that i’m paying attention.  which i did, for both shirt and pants on the home depot dolphin.  and i started building up the whitish skin on the dolphin’s front, first with brush and wipe, and then directly painted and brushed out.  since it’s thin…it looks okay, and i’ll do more in natural light tomorrow.

i’m getting to the point where all the work is going to have to be done during daylight, because the color shift at night is too much for me to do the color of jeans, or the colors on the waves, or the color on the chest, or on the mckenney’s shirt, which needs to match the mass tone of their actual shirt.

i spent some time on the waves of the home depot dolphin after lunch (around 5).  i took the original dull green i used on the waves, and added more thalo and painted it back in, next to the purple.  the progression is purple, green, turquoise.  i hesitate to put white in the middle of the wavelets, but i think i should.  jim, of course, thinks i’m doing too much.  but it doesn’t look finished.  a nice seafoam green, only way lighter.  and with sparkly bits.  not sure how i’ll do that, probably as a topcoat.

but by the time i was done putting the green on, the light was gone, and in the dark it looks great.

the thing i can do when i’m done messing up the colors on the waves is to glaze the entire mess o’waves with a unifying color.  or i could veil it.  different effects.  of course, i could always do both…

after it got dark, i was left painting things that i can paint in bad light.  which tonight meant the pipes.  looking at my reference photos, i see several different shades of gray pipe being used at the aquarium.  my color memory is for shit, so i have no idea what i actually saw, and all my photos show different grays, which could be mere lighting effects.  or it could be that different size pipes are different colors, or that different manufacturers paint their pipes different colors, or that the aquarium guys got a deal on paint, or that they have a subdued design sense.

so first i repainted all the black pipes with fresh black.  they’d gotten awfully manky while i was adjusting the pants.  then i mixed up some black with white in it, and painted all the pipes a mid gray.  the black acrylic paint had been sitting for awhile imperfectly covered, and was quite tough, but i was determined, and finally mushed it up into a smooth paste and diluted it enough to get in the cracks.

the pipes, wrapped with cotton gauze – cheesecloth – have bunches of coats of paint on them by now.  kilz, then housepaint green, then a mixed brown, and then blue and either purple, green or turquoise along the edges where it’s connected to the fiberglass with epoxy putty.  at least; i may have forgotten a coat or two.  so the cheesecloth is firmly glued down now.

it’s the trouble i thought it would be to get back inside some of those pipes and underneath some sections.  where they cross and tangle is a real problem, and i end up using a flashlight in one hand and a small brush in the other, angling all around each opening to paint the tiny spot i can reach within, then moving it all and trying from a different direction.  at times nothing will do but a finger dipped in paint and wriggled into the teensy space and around the back of a pipe.  i actually ran out of gray paint at the end of the circuit, with not enough to tilt him over and paint underneath.

this hopefully last coat has to go all the way around, and get every part of the dolphin.  and it’s still happening that i’ll come across a tiny hole that shows the original white of the primed dolphin, and have to struggle to get it dabbed and closed up.  paint is a great sealant.  water is a great invader.

oh yeah.  last night just as i finished writing up my blog post, my kid came home, and we visited for awhile at 2 am.  then i didn’t feel tired anymore, and went back to work.  i mixed up some putty, rolled it out relatively thick (1/16″) and placed my printed out and trimmed pin on top, and cut it out with a razor blade.  i had already taken the cornstarch back upstairs after rolling out all that putty before, so i grabbed a handful of plaster and used that as the no-stick stuff.  whatever works.  i just dipped it in water when i was ready to put it on the dolphin, and laid it carefully on the tip of the collar.

the rest of the putty got rolled out just as thin as i could roll it, thin as bible paper, thin as strudel dough.  dipped that in water, and then carefully laid it out over the pen, and very carefully smoothed the air out with a wet finger, and used my razor to prick a hole in the putty to coax the air out thru.  it disintegrated at the bottom edge, but i’ve had that happen before, and just got more water and gently led it back into place using telepathy.  so now the pen is actually in a pocket, rather than just sticking out thru a pocket protector.

then i took a sanding block and did my level best to make the lumpy pvc pipe look flat and smooth like a roll of plans.  you should have seen me using body language on the sanding block, it was fierce.  you should have seen the pile of dust i had to vacuum up before i started work.

i got to bed around 5.

this morning the pocket got coated out with kilz using the oh-so renewable finger, and this afternoon it got a coat of the now-wrong color blue because the shirt blue was many layers of glaze over the blue i would have used except it now had extra white in it.  but it’s all good, because i don’t have to worry about the shirt until tomorrow.

tomorrow i’ve got to deal with the paint can, and the drill, and the cord, and the ties on the shoes and other shoe details, and the middle seam on the pants.  and the cutter.  and the shirt.  and the apron is weakly orange now that the other colors are coming up, and the badges and all that other stuff.

by tomorrow, i mean another week, i guess.  but, having to double every estimate, maybe i’ll be done by the 21st of this month…

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