Final Layer

In the third layer of this image, I went mostly monochromatic. There are colors weaving through, but they have been knocked down with touches of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and sepia. The intense middle layer adds some further color variation, unfortunately this layer obscured more than I had intended.

The last layer is the opportunity to lock in chaotic color movement. It provides lots of latitude in the earlier stages when the last touches will sync it all together. It takes a daft touch. Too little and syncing doesn’t happen, in fact it only adds to the cacophony. Too much obscures previous layers and flattens the image. Just right and it’s a thing of beauty.

That didn’t happen ere unfortunately. The final wash was too heavy and opaque, resulting in a very monochromatic image with little variation.

It was not a failure however. The spectator image expanded to 3′ x 4.5′ has a presence to it unlike any others using this subject matter.


Second Layer

Logistically, each layer involves the same process as the first; an additional layer of masking followed by a new layer of watercolor. With each layer, the image will become more defined and darker. Those are a given. Otherwise there is flexibility and leaves room for variation. In this case, the second layer I blasted with intense color to counter the pastel underlay, which should create a smooth color blend. I also plan to tone the intensity down dramatically in the next layer with a more monochrome palette, so the intensity will take a big hit. If I kept the intensity low here, the final palette would probably be flatter than I want.


First steps: Spectators 30

For my first paintings, I decided to push the Spectators series a little further. They were always about maximalism in their own way, but since I had moved the series to watercolor (and therefore applied the ethereal qualities to the images), I had been restricted to smaller images due to the size limitations of available paper. Now, for the watercolorists out there, before you tell me about rolls of watercolor paper (which I have a number of), I should note that I work almost exclusively on 300 lb. paper. I really get that painting WET. I need a paper at a weight simply too heavy to roll.

Fortunately, I had some old stock Arches 300 lb. cold-press at about 42”x 60”. This will do the trick, even if I have to use the back of some sheets. It’s not the 6’ canvases, but it’s more than enough to dramatically open the angle up to accommodate larger sets of figures.

There is a risk though. Whereas the Spectator’s series in acrylic is big, sloppy, goopy, and smeary, the watercolor Spectators are more intimate, which may work better for the ethereal quality it provides. Can too much ethereal lose its other-worldliness? Is the grand gesture of a large image too overwhelming for the delicate nuance of the medium? Or, could it just be that the interplay between pattern and the figurative becomes too lopsided for the home team? I believe that typically the larger image is more inclined to expose its flatness which could certainly destroy the uniqueness of any given area to the overall, flatter, whole.

Since I do not know how this will ultimately be displayed, it’s best to keep the paper presentable in the event that it’s unappealing or just too costly to have it matted and framed. Frankly, I couldn’t afford to have this framed anyway, but better to plan ahead just in case.

So I’ve taped off the outer edge of the work area. Taping only seems to work half of the time no matter how detailed you are. When paint seeps into the border area, there’s no option but the mat. Tape and voodoo sticks, then hope.

I mapped the sheet out into a set of 6 squares by 9 squares. Just like the subject matter of spectators and the relation of the singular to the whole, I’ll be working on this one small image at a time. I had originally thought to actually grid the sheet off with white crayon so that the grid remained prominent, but had a change of heart. I don’t know why I make every choice that I do, so there it is.

The next step was to plan my white areas out on the paper. I rarely do any pencil work these days and go straight in with paint or friskit, but due to the scale of this image, I decided to be a little more cautious and mark the areas out that will be preserved for the white paper in the final painting. Due to the subject matter (large assembled crowds), I should note that without gridding the surface off, this step, and most subsequent steps, would literally be impossible. Go geometry.


A Change of Scenery

I was privileged to be offered the painting studio at CPCC Levine campus for a year to work and produce some paintings. The work area has a glass wall looking out to the atrium, so I’m kind of a zoo animal on display. I may be alone on this, but it seemed like a good idea to me. For one, let’s be honest here, I won’t be goofing off (a real danger when you’re isolated from responsibility). The bigger reason, though, is to just let them see it happen, one step at a time. When I talk about art, I tend to want to de-mystify it and project it in its simplest terms. “It’s no big deal” seems to be the mantra engraved on my pulpit as an art teacher. So, to put my money where my mouth is, I humbly accepted the opportunity. There’s nothing mystical about this. I’ll show you. It’s no big deal.

Oh, and my name is emblazoned on the window so everyone knows who to blame or credit. Pretty damn cool.

I then thought this might be the time to dust off this old blog and keep a running tally (again, publicly) of my progress. Let’s see what happens.

I have to show some appreciation to the folks here who offered me this opportunity: Catalina Ramirez, Dr. Edith Valladares McElroy, and Cassandra Richardson. Thank you!

Ann Landers, Charlotte Observer

March 4th, 1995. Charlotte Observer

“After years of putting up with ingratitude (including no acknowledgement whatsoever), I have called it quits. And I feel wonderful about my decision. – Foolish No More, Saginaw, MI”

October 21st, 1930. Columbia, South Carolina

October 21st, 1930. Columbia, South Carolina

Wilrik Hotel, Sanford, NC. Back

Wilrik Hotel, Sanford, NC. Back

“October 20 – 3:00 pm
I am sitting in the car on a grade near here, while Will has gone in a passing car after gas, about 2 miles either way to gas station. The weather is fine. The sun is hot but very cool at night. Have driven 730 miles to here on the hike, 273 yesterday. Send any mail to Lakeland as we will have it forwarded when we are not there. -Mother”

October 12th, 1970. Greenville, South Carolina

October 12th, 1970. Greenville, South Carolina

Dear Roy & Elissa, Envelope Front, 4" x 6"

Dear Roy & Elissa, Envelope Front, 4″ x 6″

Dear Roy & Elissa, Page 1 Front, 8" x 6"

Dear Roy & Elissa, Page 1 Front, 8″ x 6″

Dear Roy & Elissa, Page 2 Front, 8" x 6"

Dear Roy & Elissa, Page 2 Front, 8″ x 6″

“We still have our colored neighbors and will continue to do so, I imagine.”
“Love, Betsy Tate”