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A new painting of time passing, filling the pool, and ordering coffee
I finished up a new painting a weekend ago and finally got it varnished yesterday. Applying varnish is not really needed with modern acrylic media - while it does unify the surface sheen and helps inkjet colors pop, it’s mostly a step which helps me say “done” and mean it.
This painting began with another Uniqlo portrait study.
I liked the bright sunlight and clear shadows on the model’s face. The left-leaning composition gives the appearance that she’s trying to see around a corner and over a parked car. I also liked the tagline over the photo. Question asked and answered.
When I crop out a reference photo, sometimes a snippet of text gets orphaned in the page. Without context, it loses meaning and just becomes something visually interesting. I decided to include that in my final painting. It looks like Uniqlo, at least sometimes, uses the freely licensed typeface D-DIN in their marketing materials. So I used this to reproduce some of the ad text in the printed backdrop for my painting.
I printed and mounted this around the same time I started “Too early for breakfast”. I try to stage a couple of paintings at a time so I’m always ready to jump into something when I find the free time and energy.
I’ve had these photos of a restaurant table-number and the neighborhood swimming pool (unfilled and derelict, restored and sparkling blue) kicking around on my phone for a while. This is my favorite artist’s trick: Place two images next to each other, and you start to get a sense of time passing. Add a third and now you have a story. The images can be anything, the mind finds connections on its own.
Once I get all the imagery printed and mounted, I stop planning the painting, and instead try to just sort of respond to what I see there.
The bold “53” table-number seemed like it needed to be repeated, so I started recreating it off to the side, in the big open area on the upper right.
I could have, or should have, blown up the image to the right size on my computer, printed it out, then transferred it onto the canvas. I did it the hard way and messed up a lot.
I felt like the diner needed a coffee mug and after painting the magical number 53 I was older and wiser. This time I created a sketch (in Sketch.app) and used graphite transfer paper to trace it to the working surface. Transfer paper is basically like tracing paper impregnated with pencil lade on once side. Place the black side down, cover with your drawing, trace it, and boom there’s your drawing on your work surface.
I had a wacky thought that I’d like for my coffee mug to appear to almost collaged on, so I transferred the drawing on to blue painters tape, which I cut out to make a stencil.
I shared a work-in-progress photo with a friend and we got to talking about how much we liked having the sketch of the mug taped up with the painting of the mug. I felt like a theme of reaching into the photographic background to pull out elements to paint was emerging. I recreated the sketch of the mug in paint using the same transfer trick as before.
I carried on with this idea, by painting more triangle flags over the left hand image of the empty pool. I used tape again to make super crisp edges and to give the appearance that these flags were behind some of the other layers, when, of course, they’re painted right on top.
I added some tiny, subtle drop shadows around my fake sketch and my fake real flags to make them pop off the surface just a bit.
I like where I landed with this painting. I got to flex some of my old-school academic painting muscles and mural painting skills. It diverges a bit from more recent paintings. I realize, now, it’s in the style of some previous experiments (🥩) with painting on top of photographs. It’s more time-consuming in a way, but tickles a different part of my brain.
Thanks for reading!