Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Extreme Lighting

an oil painting, horse, looking behind, orange light
This was supposed to be a monochromatic painting, like a couple I have painted recently, but it all went horribly wrong not once, but twice. First time, I got a sludge from which a horse barely emerged and tossed the whole thing, canvas and all, into the bin. Second time there was distinctly a horse in the sludge but it was still dire. 
The only consolation was that I am presently obsessed with John Singer Sergeant and I recalled this, which I found on this site
There are stories of Sargent wearing out the carpet as he dashed backward and forward from his easel; of sudden exple­tives as he wrestled with the problems of repre­sen­tation: ‘Demons, demons!’ he would cry out in frus­tration; of scraping-downs and rubbings-out as he aban­doned what he had begun and started again.

It has been good for me to brood on this, for people always assume that beautiful paintings materialise from the end of a brush as if by magic - I am just as bad - and that if they do not it must mean you haven't got what it takes (whatever that is). I try to remember it is hard for everyone and that persistence and patience are required. 
More in despair than hope, I decided to have another go with a different palette. I ditched the chromatic blacks, the burnt umber and ultramarine mixes that were failing to produce anything except the colours of decayed swamp, and re-laid my palette with Rembrandt Transparent Oxide Brown (a colour that seems to "behave itself" so much better than Burnt Umber), Rembrandt Cadmium Yellow Deep and Gamblin Warm White.
I looked very closely at the reference photo taken by Janina Suuronen on Paint My Photo and exaggerated the merest hint of orange that I could see in the horse's coat - the red arrows mark the spots:
I appreciate it is a bit of a jump from Janina's photo to my painting, but that is how I did it.