Wednesday, July 28, 2004

July 28, Wednesday

Last night we worked with Maurizio, our model at Charles Cecil's studio, for the last time. In the six days that we had him, we tried three different poses, and I experimented with two unfamiliar painting surfaces. The first was the oil-primed linen of which I have bought a 2 x 3 meter piece for about 100 euros. It has an interesting graininess but I find the texture too slick. It doesn't give the resistance that the cheap cotton duck does, and which I have integrated into my drawing technique on canvas. The other material was a process which I sort of invented-- I bought two sheets of Arches rough cold press watercolor paper, which I was going to tape to a board and gesso. When I did this, the paper got wet and buckled. I remembered that you could wet and tape watercolor paper and it would stretch as it dried, so I soaked the sheets of paper evenly with water over the sink, and with the gesso already applied liberally to the side I wanted to paint on, I taped them flat to a board using regular two-inch masking tape. After that I damped off the excess water and let them dry in a horizontal position. As they dried the tape began to stick and the paper flattened out as it contracted. They became very flat and made an interesting surface to work on. It is extremely rough and absorbant. If I had more time I would like to experiment with it further. I think it would lend itself to a combination of media, like graphite, watercolor, and oil. The oil paint is instantly absorbed into the paper and blends when painted over in a unique way. The masking tape did let go in one place at the end, causing a slight buckling of the paper. Better tape with more glue on it would probably work better, but I was surprised at how well the masking tape worked. I think that, the larger the sheet of paper, the greater the width of the tape that will be required to hold it.
We began painting a view of Maurizio's back with his arms elevated on a rope, but I only had perhaps an hour on this painting before the mosquito bites he was receiving on his bare back required us to change the pose to one that was more comfortable. From here I worked for another hour or so on a view of his head turned down and in three-quarters angle. These were the two sketches I began in oil on the stretched, gessoed Arches paper. Both are crude and indefinite, but I think there might be something more of him in this head than in the one I worked with for three days on the linen, which now appears lifeless and staring to me.

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