Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Southeast Whitesburg Mural--10 The hills are alive

The plumbers came, the pipes got fixed, and everything was back to normal (more or less) by 2:00 PM. So after a quick lunch it was off to the college, to get four or five hours of painting tucked into the day.

The cliff and hills in the background behind the Belinda Mason Building are off in the distance a mile or two away, but the hills in the other two-thirds of the mural, are close by, and embrace the college snugly. So while it is not only acceptable, but actually desirable for the background of Belinda Mason to be in a different color palette (slightly different hues and grayer in intensity), it is important for the rest of the hills to have a consistent range of hue, value and intensity.

This means mixing up very large batches of several colors and laying them all in across the entire area in one session. Like most painters, my painting experience involved working on canvasses three or four feet wide and two to three feet high (for landscapes -- the opposite dimensions for portraits). One does not mix large batches of a single color for canvasses this size. So I am engaging in a fair amount of guess work when it comes to how much of a color to mix up for an area as large as the mountains (approximately 11 feet wide and varying from one to two feet in height).

The first photo (right) shows stage one. I started with an intense, bluish-tinged dark value green for the deep shadows under the bushes along the river bank and across the hillside (a combination of Hooker's Green, Pthalo Green and very small amounts of Mars Black with a large dollop of matte medium). Perhaps I could have used a bit more than I did, but I was able to lay down some shadow across the entire area with one batch, so my guess work was pretty accurate. I had to move the scaffolding to three different locations to cover the area.

Then I mixed three different greens: 1) a medium value green with a blue tint (Permanent Green Medium, Hooker's Green, and tiny dash of Cobalt Blue), 2) a medium value yellow green (Permanent Green Medium, Hooker's Green, Cadmium Yellow Medium), and 3) a lighter value yellow green (Permanent Green Medium, Hooker's Green, Cadmium Yellow Light and Titanium White). One problem I am having with this project is that colors that seem very light to me on the palette, and on the wall when I'm standing a foot from the wall, appear darker from the floor (and even darker when photographed). The nice thing about working with acrylic paints is that one can always add lighter colors on top to nice effect. Light colors always appear closer to us than dark colors, so it does not hurt for light colors to be built up on top of darker colors.

I applied the color by dabbing and stippling, rather than stroking the brush. Stippling is a technique, where just the tips of a stiff brush come in contact with the painting surface. There are brushes designed specifically for stippling, but any good stiff bristle brush can be used in this manner. The result as you can see below gives the impression of the foliage of trees. Later I will add detail in the foreground of the hills, suggesting some individual trees with different shapes and types of leaves.

Like with the earlier dark shadow under layer, the scaffolding had to be moved into three different positions to reach the entire area. All this took from 3:00 PM until 7:00 PM, with thirty minutes for clean up at the end.

1 comment:

Deborah Godin said...

Nice to have the play-by-play of this, with your comments and the names of the colors.
It's look-ing goo-ood!