Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Red Shoes - (Klimt would roll in his canvas shroud)

   Howdy Folks! Well, it's finished after three months. Not that I've put three months work into it, maybe three weeks worth of labour at most. It's been sitting in the studio for those 12 weeks complaining of neglect each time I went out there, (out to the studio). Have been so busy with so much else going on and lots of research  for my next project - mainly hunting for images of period costume and some image creating Latin texts. (You'll see why the need for Latin when I post the relevent images... if I use the texts I have in mind anyway.)
    Now, I don't know - or rather, havent seen - if other illustrators/artists reveal their failures on the wide world of the web, but I'm about to do so. (This confession probably won't mean much, as few out there in the blogosphere probably view this self indulgent little site anyway.) So, for what it's worth, here goes...
   Looking back at the progress of this particular illustration, you will recall that the back-ground rectangle started out as green. The plan was to paint a few heavy base coats of the said green and then, when the figure work was completed, to overlay the green with bright, metallic gold; this I did and then over the base green I laid in two coats of what is called, 'Crackle Medium'. As the name implies, the medium creates a crackled or crazy pave pattern on the areas over which it is applied but the base coat must be solid/thick enough that the crackle effect doesn't go through to the support; in this case, Bainbridge Illustration board, which is a creamy white. You/I only want the base coat and not the support to show through. Unfortunately, when the medium had fully dried, I didn't behold a beautiful gold with a random crackled effect of green, but a beautiful gold with ugly areas of milky white - not a green crackle to be seen. It didn't bleedin' work, did it!
   I have contacted a painter friend of mine, Lin Stanton - a brilliant painter of semi abstract land and seascapes - who is familiar with and has used this medium, and asked, WHAT DID I DONE WRONG, LIN?!! Lin, has yet to get back to me...she lives in Queensland, a part of the world that seems to run on a time zone all of it's own ... I await her advice by email and shall share the info on this blog when it comes in...
   I suspect, considering the milky effect when dry, that my bottle of crackle medium may be past it's use-by date or that it has gone off.
   So, what to do now? 
   I did what any self respecting artist would do, I cursed, I swore, I stamped my feet, I threw myself on the floor and burst into tears...having recovered my composure after a short while, I sat and looked at the picture and had a thunk... thunk? A cross between a think and a moody funk... this is the quiet moment/s before panic sets in. This time no panic. I set about over-painting the milky areas with pale (bright) metallic gold and then with my green hue and a very fine sable brush I proceeded to try and create my wanted effect. After twenty minutes or so, I realised that though my crackle effect was coming along okay, it looked rather contrived and did not have the haphazard, accidental look that the medium would/should have created.
   So, on with more pale gold, then random dabs of rich gold, followed by burnish copper. What I ended up with was a pseudo, Gustav Klimt look. Not entirely unattractive but not entirely original or what I had intended before I had started laying in colour over the line work. A failure in other words.
   So, Folks, there you have it, my tale of woe. Also a learning experience for me and a cautionary tale for you.  Here's a check list for us all -:

1) Check your medium for use-by dates - if any. If the product is new to you, also read the directions properly. (Mind you, I did both and it still didn't work. I should have undertaken item 3 first. Duh!)
2) Try out your ideas for wanted effects before the final stages.
3) Ensure that your support will respond to the product you're to apply.(This is probably the same as item 2) 
4) If you have followed all of the above and what you have attempted still doesn't work out, DON'T PANIC! As painful as it might be to you, you can always paint, draw or sculpt etc the work again. Contact your specialist art materials supplier, and ask for advice. (I say specialist, as in art material suppliers who supply to professional artist and art schools. Hobby or mixed craft/art supply shops generally don't have staff who are versed in the technical side of the products they sell. Failing the specialist shops, contact the manufacturer...email is a wonderful tool here.)

Well Folks, that's it from me for a few days...happy painting.
Cheers, R.W.S

(Top pic...past the panic point and Klimt background painted in. Second pic... the final image which I won't sign as I'm not happy with it - it may grow on me but I doubt it. Third pic...detail of background patterning. Bottom pic...pale - bright - gold before disaster.)

1 comment:

  1. "I did what any self respecting artist would do, I cursed, I swore, I stamped my feet, I threw myself on the floor and burst into tears..."
    Sounds familiar.. i'm so sorry you had such an awful experience.. however in my humble opinion, the end result i think is fabulous!

    "This confession probably won't mean much, as few out there in the blogosphere probably view this self indulgent little site anyway"
    wanna bet?
    ps.. and you write so well also!