starting the books

i’m glad to be starting on the books.  it’s too much of a strain to reach up and paint above my head.  my shoulder seizes up, and my neck goes out of joint, i get these headaches that keep me in bed half the day, and i only get started working in the late afternoon.

i can sit down while sketching in the books.  that makes all the difference.

but i’m still doing things on the head.  and tho it’s getting pretty dark for white georgia marble, it’s looking pretty good for a paint job.

today i worked with a very thin raw umber and ultramarine blue wash, the same one i’ve been using for all the lines.  i used it for all the lines, meaning the lines i’d covered over with marbling yesterday.  i used the wash to put the lines back in, and then used my small flat brush to put some buff titanium over the lines in the columns.

it’s called pushing and pulling.  you load in the lights, and they’re too much, so you balance it with the darks.  and they’re too much, too, so you come in with the middle tones to bring them all together, but it’s too dark, so you add in some lights.  lather, rinse, repeat.

so i put in the shadows between the columns.  and ran a shadow line down the sides of the columns, followed by a finger to wipe away the edge toward the middle.  then i ran shadow lines on the wall beneath the columns and windows.  when i say shadow line, what i mean is that i take a flat brush loaded with a thin wash, and quickly cover the edge of some line.  and because it’s flat, and comes out into the middle where it forms a hard edge, i soften the edge before it dries with a finger, or the dry brush, or something.

i dislike acrylic because it dries too quickly.  that, and it smells.  i have to remember that acrylic is just another medium, and the important thing is the pigment.  but i don’t have to enjoy it.  actually, i used to have a lot more prejudice toward acrylics, until i learned more about binders in general.  a binder is anything that enables the pigment to stick to the paint surface.  they all can be worked with, they all have their strong points and weaknesses.  and i can handle them all.  except maybe for pottery glazing, because i know nothing about that medium at all.

i still have to put in the lettering on the plaques over the windows, and the dentils and supports in that area, and i have to draw in the arch stone lines as well.  and fill in the carnegie plaque with its plant leaves and tendrils.  and the stone head.

what i did that you don’t see, are the beginnings of the gold buttons, and a covering coat of gold over the epaulets (they were stained with red by the time i got done sponging the jacket).

you also don’t see the beginnings of the book on his tailfin.  i’ve decided to rip off franklin garrett‘s yesterday’s atlanta, a collection of old photos and commentary from atlanta’s first historian.  all the books i’m drawing were photographed in dr. garrett’s office library, so it’s fitting that i continue to make use of his work.  i’ll show my progress tomorrow.

i had planned to print out the photographs of the books in the atlanta history center library (thanks folks), but alas ran into technical difficulties, and am now using the photos as the references they were meant to be.

i took over a hundred photos of books, mainly in dr. garrett’s library.  he had an extensive collection of books on atlanta, the counties and towns around atlanta, the state, the native companies, the schools, the trains, the civil war, everything georgia and the south.  i have plenty of material to go on, and once i’ve gotten a bunch of fiction titles together from a separate source, i will be able to cover the dolphin’s legs back and front with books about or by georgia and georgians.

after drawing the books in mostly to scale, i carefully marked the photo to show which books and which area on the dolphin.  i’m going to be using these references extensively.  the taller books i’m going to have to put at the back, where the jacket rises up over the tail, but i’ll mark them too, and probably just reuse them.

after i took these pictures, i went back and put buff titanium and brown over the hat, because i’d left the marble too white before putting the letters on.  i’ll have to reletter it, but that’s okay.  restate, i should say.

and i’m going to leave the real small lettering on the face until i’ve had loads of practice lettering book spines.  that means i’ll be well able for the acrobatics involved in painting ‘carnegie’ on the inside of a dolphin’s mouth.

the race is on to see if i can finish by the end of this week.  i’m mostly done with the jacket.  on the other hand, i still have to cut and laminate the jacket trim, and make precise round things of his buttons (and me not able to focus on close work anymore, where is that pair of glasses?)  i’m just starting with the books, an that’s going to take a long time.  and when i’m done painting, i will print out a bunch more pages from old books about atlanta, and paste them down over the waves in some manner still to be determined.

i’ve been thinking about the waves.  i would have liked to build them out a bit, soften their form with a few layers of fiberglass cloth and resin.  but i’m not going to do that.  trouble is, when i did the tests for how pages would look, they wrinkled pretty badly over the waves.  i can get past that by using smaller pages, or strips of inch wide text, or only putting the pages in certain directions, over certain wavelets.  and i’m certain i can’t put any photos over the waves, because they are already hard to read.  they’re going to have to go over the feet, along with the company logo.  the logo will be in color, tho i’ll check on that.  but i’m thinking they’ll want it in color.


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