Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Master Study Exercises - Study Five

Gregory Manchess, is again, the inspiration for another replication exercise. There are many reasons to love his work and many reasons to do these exercises. So, when I stumbled across his monochromatic (bordering on analagous) scene of the tree in the woods, I thought "Well, that may be harder than it appears". After all, it's not like an artist can simply blob out dioxazine purple and titanium white and call it a day. Additionally, the backlighting of that tree is more difficult than most people would think since the light needs to pour out over those dark limbs in a convincing way.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to study with David Leffel. Well, it's pretty apparent from looking at his work that he works wet in wet and from direct observation, very similar to Rembrandt's style. During one of the classes, he did a demo which was spot on in every aspect. During this demo a student said "Mr. Leffel, what do you think about glazes?" I always chuckle to myself when I think of his response which was a smile answered with simply,"Why not paint it right the first time?" Well, unfortunately, we are all not David Leffel and I do happen to love the look of glazes, but there is some truth to that comment. It's also the reason that I make myself go out and plein air paint. I'm not really much of a landscape painter, but I'm never going to sharpen up my color mixing skills if I stay in my studio hiding under glazes constantly.

So, it's pretty apparent that Manchess did this entire piece alla prima, and I did not. The entire section under the tree had to be glazed down in a light application of ultramarine blue to get both the color and value correct. And once I finished I realized my tree was looking a little sparse comparatively which means I may have overdone the light glows through the foliage. I also wanted to do this painting because the last time I used purple was back in my undergraduate days. I have been working from a standard 12 color palette for over ten years now and purple was kicked out a long time ago, it was fun to rediscover it. 

It is also amazing to me that oil paint can survive just fine in a tube that is over twenty years old. I got this tube of purple oil paint, along with many other colors, while I was in high school. A friend of mine told me "My mom tried oil painting, but she hasn't used those paints in years. You can just have them". Naturally, I wondered if he should ask his mom first, and for awhile I even kept the shoebox of oil paint separate, just in case I was to get an irate phone call of "I want my paints back!". After I went to college, and this was pre-Facebook days when people really did lose touch with people, I went ahead and accepted the paints as my own property. After twenty or so years, I'm certain his mother is not going to call me, but there is a nagging thought that crosses my mind while looking at that tube of paint......what if one of my boys when they are in high school hands some girl my box of paints and says, "Yeah, my mom used to paint."

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