I had a real good painting session yesterday on the Royal Crescent of Bath painting that is my current commission. It’s taking longer than a painting would normally do, but that’s because of two reasons, which together make a larger practical problem. Firstly, its in oils, so its taking ages to dry between stages, and secondly, its a block canvas, which means that I can’t keep it vertical AND stand it on a surface if all of the sides are wet with drying oil paint. So, you would think, put the canvas horizontal then, and that would be the logical answer. Except that’s not how you paint pictures. If they are painted lying flat on a horizontal surface the verticals in the picture get lengthened to compensate the eye. Painting it on the vertical, or at least a strong diagonal will help to view it better for painting. But, a picture isn’t viewed from close up, its viewed from a few feet away, so the artist should always stand back a bit every so often to make sure that it looks good still from that distance away, and that the tones are right, the shapes are right, there aren’t too many “coincidences” (that’s where things in the foreground fit exactly into something that is in the background, like if a cloud shape is exactly the same shape of a tree its behind, or if a house roof in the middle of the picture ends exactly where the horizon ends, that sort of thing) and that it just “feels right” to the artist.
So, all in all, the picture has to be painted vertical, and from a distance a way. And I can’t do that, because of the wet paint…..
I’d done as much as I can, up until yesterday, and I stood contemplating the picture, with a mug of tea in my hand (one of my best thinking times, whilst drinking mugs of tea!!!) and I was itching to get on to the next stage, and knowing that it might be a week or more away before I could do anything whilst the paint dried. MMm….. that’s not good enough, I want to paint it NOW, whilst the momentum is there, whilst I feel like doing it, whilst I’m in the floooooowwwww….
I’ve got an idea!!!!
The obvious one really!
And easily remedied…
….I’ll stand on a chair, whilst the painting sits on my work surface on the flat, and I can both let all four of the sides dry, because they’re not being affected, and see the whole of the painting from a distance, because I was far enough above it, to see the whole picture from a distance of four feet or so away. YAY! Ingenious!
And because I was in the flow, and able to carry on with my momentum, and was playing the right sort of rock and dance music that gets me going, the painting went well, the colours were right, the paint went on thick, and fast, and now has movement within it, with the texture as well as the flashes of colour put here and there.
Who’d have thought it! My best painting aid this week, was a chair!