Step by Step 2010 – day 3 & 4

More of that fairly smooth sailing -- and a little auto-pilot, as I didn't do nearly as a good a job taking progress shots. my process here is more of the same though, working back to foreground on the torso, same approach to values. amazingly, I'm sticking with my light background idea, and adding in little swatches of background with each adjacent body part, allowing me to play with the edges with wet on wet paint. I'll usually soften all the edges to varying degrees, either allowing elements further in the background to be a little looser, or creating a little movement outside of the lines. (I don't have any good detail shots of edges at this point but I'll post some further along).

I'm also continuing the drippy bits, as I did on day 2 -- basically completing an area and then going back into it very loosely with my background color, and a lot of extra turp. it's tons of fun actually, and feels at the time like I'm really stepping out and getting crazy. (i know).

A quick long word on mediums: At this point in this particular painting, I haven't used anything but paint (aside from those turp drips). I will most definitely incorporate mediums as I get further along, but lately I've been tying to keep them out of my first layer of paint. the reasons for this are two-fold: one, I've read a lot about the advantages of working 'thick to thin' with oil paint, allowing every layer to to be thinner than the one underneath it, so that everything remains stable. I personally don't paint with a lot of paint at all, very thin layers,  so keeping my first layer as pure as possible just seems like a good idea.* The second reason is that I found I was really only using mediums on my first pass of a painting to make the paint more pliable (again this doesn't apply to glazing, or subsequent layers). Because I paint with so little paint, things dry for me (enough to work back into them) in 2 or 3 days at most, and that's fine for me -- so I don't really need drying time sped up. Instead of using mediums on the foundation of a painting, I've found that using softer paint and more rigid brushes helps a ton with the pliability issue,  and it actually helps me loosen up a bit too.

* correction: this is totally wrong. I'm referring to the "fat over lean" concept and at some point I must have switched this around in my head. (this occurred to me at 2am last night and I have subsequently done some much needed re-research). It's actually the opposite, and refers to ensuring that additional layers of paint do not dry faster than the paint below it, which can cause instability and/or cracking. "Fat" paint can be just a lot of paint, or paint with oils added to it. "Thin" paint can be just thin layers, or paint thinned with a drying agent. (so it can be either quantity, or the addition of mediums). In my case, I don't paint thickly, and I rarely layer over and over (in most areas, it will be a base layer of paint, then a couple layers of glazing), so It's probably not something I need to worry so much about. but good to know and keep in mind! [welcome to the nagel-learn-slowly-as-you-go painting school]

When I do get into working with a medium, I have been using Walnut Alkyd. It's great for working back into areas that have already been painted and it works pretty well as an oiling out medium when cut with gamsol/turp. It was recommended to me by David Kassan, who offered it as a healthier alternative to Linseed Oil and Liquin [he is a fantastic artist, make sure you check him out if you haven't before]. It's non-toxic and plays really nice with walnut oil-based paint. (I use a lot of M. Graham colors, which is the only walnut oil-based oil paint brand i've found...but they're great).  It also works just fine with Linseed and Safflower based paints.

Walnut Alkyd doesn't work for me when it comes to glazing though, it's a little too thin and takes too long to set --  so I always fall back to the always dependable and über-toxic, Liquin. That stuff is funky but it works great. I'll get a lot more into glazing further along in these posts.

more soon, thank you for reading! again, feel free to leave comments and/or questions.