Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cincinnati in the winter

I traveled with my wife to Cincinnati in early February. We stayed a few days thanks to Gwen, a friend from classes at the John C. Campbell folk school in North Carolina. Gwen drove us around the downtown area, to the historic art deco train station, took us for Cincinncati chili and fed us well. The women are quilters so I brought along my paint and took a drive early one morning to a park several miles outside the city. I painted this in about an hour. You are looking east toward Cincinnati in the distance, that plume of white smoke at the horizon. It was in the low 20s that morning and the wind was howling, so there was no way I was going to stand out in that kind of cold to paint (I'm hardy, but not foolhardy). So, inside the car on the passenger side I painted. In the meantime, the ladies were at work on a cooperative quilt for a charitable cause. After finishing up and cleaning the palette, I set the GPS to help me get to the Cincinnati Art Museum. This place is a real treasure. They have Frank Duveneck paintings, some really famous John Singer Sargents and several of the famous painters of New Mexico and the West; Couse, Farny and Sharp. I had to go there twice on that trip. Not forgetting a beautiful portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn, the Scots portrait painter -- or the Indian motorcycle from 1947.
The painting pictured is a 6 X 8 inch (I assume that you knew it wasn't 6 by 8 feet painted outside at 20 degrees in below zero wind chill) on canvas board. It was kind of nice doing a "plein air" painting inside the car without the bugs and the sun beating down or contending with the wind.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Restoration for the Jack of all trades

When you are an artist you get asked to do all kind of "art" related things. I've been asked to do logos for someone's business (I don't do that). I've drawn children for the cover of a school phone directory. I hate doing illustration, although I've done them (after giving the art director exactly what they asked for, they tell you it isn't exactly what they asked for) -- animation too -- as a result I can hardly watch an animated film anymore.
One assignment I don't mind doing is restoration.
I was recently asked to clean a painting. It was a snow scene done in the 1950's and covered with yellowed varnish. I went out and bought a picture cleaner which I thought would do the job. I won't mention any brand names, but I know you've heard of them if you paint. Well, the cleaner did little more than clean grime off the surface --- although it did leave a lovely pine scent in the air. I tried it several times to no further avail. I brought out my denatured alcohol and it took the old varnish off. Why I didn't start with it, I don't know. The painting was clear of the yellowed layer of varnish. I let it dry and then applied a light coat of damar varnish. The client, a friend, paid me more than I asked, thank you very much.
I've restored a genre painting from a century ago; taking off flaked paint and repainting in the style of the brushwork that was there to begin with. After taking closeup pictures, I was able to overcome nervousness about tackling the job. That's what the Jack of all trades does -- overcome apprehension and barge ahead, sometimes foolishly.
A brief apology to those of you following this blog. I became a bit tired of doing it. I have been painting quite a bit, won an award of excellence in a group exhibit, sold one at a Holiday show. Since I don't crank out a painting a day, sometimes even one a week I don't always have things to post. I am working on a 36" X 48" canvas and you just don't do those every day, unless you paint abstracts. bad, and I'll try to post more often.