Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gassin' Up

Gassin' Up (detail)
Image size 11" x 15"
Paper size 12" x 16"
"Gassin' Up" is a work that has been in progress for a while. I worked on it some more last night. It's a self portrait, actually. This is one of those paintings where it takes two people to do it. One to paint the picture, the other to hit them in the head and make them stop! Trouble is, I keep stopping, put it aside, look at it for a long while, think of a different thing to do, work on it some more, then look at it for a long while.

My sister stopped at a fillling station in Hearne to get gas late one afternoon, headed south after a trip to Calvert. I was riding with her. While she went in to pay for the gas, I was looking at the backs of the old buildings across the alley. I thought those would be interesting to paint, and it would be good to record them while they are still standing. Those buildings have changed so much since I was a little girl, and used to ride with relatives to this town down the highway from my home town. Some buildings are gone and just the concrete slab is left. All my life, the buildings have been a sedate brick color, with maybe some green or white, maybe a touch of black, trim. Now, bright colors have been used, and colors that don't always exactly match, in my view. That kind of grates on my senses. But, then, the buildings aren't mine. I know that those colors are used to attract attention as cars whiz by on the highway, in hopes that travellers will stop, visit, and shop or eat in small towns. I think they would be much more appealing as they used to be, with dignity and charm.

As I looked at the backs of the buildings, I could see the back of an old cafe where there once were outside stairs that led to rooms and offices . Some windows had been covered with wood. My aunt talked about going there to eat when she worked in that town during World War II. And I remember it as being a nice place, with white tablecloths and heavy silverwear, and a black and white tile floor. But, it was closed for a long time.
I can't remember what was in the building where only a slab is left. I do recall offices, and rooms for rent upstairs in buildings and cafes that catered to travellers and people who worked for the railroad, right across the highway . This was a busy little town with a lot of different businesses downtown.

I didn't have a camera with me, so I used a cell phone to take a picture across the alley. My sister got back in the car and we were on our way. Later, when I looked at the picture, I realized that I had a picture, not only of the alley, but also I had taken a picture of myself in the side mirror! That was a surprise.
When I decided to draw the alley, I thought that it would be different to put the mirror with the face in it to help fill the bottom of the composition.
And, as I started painting, I decided that I would give myself purple hair. I like Cobalt Violet, to start with, so I used that color. (I always thought it would be fun to do my hair different colors! After all, Mrs. Slocumbe on "Are You Being Served" changed her hair color for every program, and, shouldn't the art teacher be colorful! But, when I was told that I would need to remove the color to get the shade I wanted, I decided that would take too much maintainance and be too expensive. When it turns white, maybe I could try it. But that is never going to happen. It may turn gray, but no one in my family has ever had white hair-not even at age 96!) At one point, when they were popular, I wore some wigs, and I tried a red rinse on my hair, but it hardly showed.
Anyway, I gave myself Cobalt Violet hair in the painting, added sunset colors to the backs of the buildings, and shadows where the buildings are recessed. The parking area of the filling station was asphalt, so it is black. I left the parking lot a pale blue, and tried to decide if I wanted to darken it, or if I want to keep it all light.
I finally thought, "Just do something to it and see what happens! Finish it and go on to something else! " So, yesterday, I just let some light blues and purples flow into some water, and I added a figure walking in the alley. I had been thinking of someone going home for supper at the end of the day, with a sack of groceries .
It was a bit too dark in the late afternoon to check colors or to paint, so I propped the painting up and looked at it some more. I've turned it upside down, sideways, looked at it in a mirror-all the tricks I can think of to check my painting. I even asked my "critics" (family), whose response is often, "Do whatever you want to".

With a transparent watercolor technique, you start light and build layers of color to darken. So, I can still add more layers of color to darken the paved area. I'm thinking of going as dark as Indigo Blue. But, with watercolors, which are a staining medium, some of those colors are not going to come off or lighten again, once they are down. My next idea to check on whether or not I want to use dark colors in that area, leaving the buildings and sky light, is to cut out a sheet of dark construction paper and lay it over the parking area. That might give me some idea of what I want to do next.

Another problem that arose is that, when I went back to my picture on the phone to check it, my picture, and a few others, have disappeared. So, I don't have my reference photo anymore.
I have tried and tried to figure out how to get photos from a phone, of things I want to draw or paint later, to the computer, without having to buy something else. So far, the people who I have asked, don't know either. I hope I don't lose the rest of my pictures!
At least I do have this painting. I may have to do the whole thing over and just change it all.
In the scan, there appears to be a lot of yellow. In the actual painting, there are more peach and orange tones, instead of such strong yellow. I'm not getting good camera images, so I'm scanning things in sections.

See below to look at a little bit more of the painting.

The Brazos Valley Art League (See their link.) is having a show coming up. I'm trying to think of what I might enter. I don't think that "Gassin' Up" is something that I might enter, but I'm thinking, and trying to finish up some things.

I added a new link under my Interesting Sites section. This one is for Zamykal Kolaches in Calvert. Some good eating there from one of the old buildings! There are also some updates on the Hammond House link and the Calvert website. Calvert is getting ready to have their Victorian Gala with a tea, booths downtonw, etc. Take a look at the website to find out more. The owner of Zamykal's Kolaches was on tv, talking about the event. There are pictures online from last year's Gala. Sounded like fun, and a chance to dress up in Victorian clothes.

Gassin' Up (detail)

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