Health & Art · Northern Neck Artisan Trail · oil painting · Productivity · Reference Photos

The Blacksmith Painting

I’ve been a very neglectful blogger. My apologies. I think I’m dealing with the February doldrums. For some reason I seem to struggle with motivation during the month of February. I have theories, but let’s just call it Seasonal Affect Disorder for it truly does seem to be an annual thing. If I were smart, this would be the month when we took off on a southerly vacation because I also begin to get anxious and traveling, for some reason seems to distract me from that. And honestly, there are some crazy things going on in the world that are definitely contributing to my overall sense of dis-ease.

However, I have started a painting. My husband is a blacksmith and so has a particular affinity for this subject matter. He wants me to do a second one of a blacksmith actually hammering glowing hot metal so I think that one will also be added to the list.

In this, the blacksmith is working with some sort of tong tool to add a link in the chain. Perhaps I will call it something like “Another Link in the Chain” or “Weakest Link” .

As for my interest in painting this, the reference photo is really awful when it comes to quality as far a as a photo is concerned, but the graininess and weird color “smearing” sort of intigued me.

I also recently read somewhere on line (I apologize for not writing down the reference because I would like to go back and read it again) but the author talked about issues that new painters have with edges. He suggests that before the end of each session that every single hard edge be wiped out. He recommended using a palette knife, a rag, your fingers, or a stiff brush to knock out all the hard edges and then rebuild at the next painting session. Only at the very end would hard edges be established. I thought this to be an interesting approach, far better explained by him than me, but I recall reading something about J. Singer Sargent doing the same thing or something similar and I do greatly admire his work.

And so I decided to give it a go. It’s tougher to do then I thought, but I feel like it is helping me resolve issues that make some of my other paintings appear stiff and “cut out”. Wiping out the hard edges seems to be helping me create a much softer painting but at the same time develop some really interesting painterly effects.

In addition to just feeling generally blue and not really pushing myself to work, there have been a lot of errands and visits to the city that have made me take off several days at a time from this painting. I’m also playing around with book binding a little (joined an on-line class/club) and so when the painting isn’t demanding attention, I’ve been playing with this craft just for fun… but friends and family may find they will start receiving handmade journals or sketchbooks for gifts.

So here is how the painting has been progressing. I’m figuring another full day or two to get it to finish. Will see.

My reference photo
Ugh! His hands are mess!

Hands are still a mess and there are drawing errors in shirt and ear.
Still generally a disaster
Beginning to shape up. Two to three days to go…

I did a lot of glazing over the darkest areas yesterday and finally corrected the ear. Still need to resolve the hand issues but difficult because the photo is so out of focus. I may get my husband to play hand model for me and see if I can figure out what should be happening. The window behind him will go even lighter to contrast against his shirt. His shirt is actually a mid-tone except in the brightest highlight on his left side. But over all, the brightest bright is that window. I want that to just glow.

What do you think? Ever have days when you just can’t motivate yourself to paint?

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