Friday, July 19, 2013

I used an orbital sander as an eraser

I was commissioned a while ago to make a Dia de Los Muertos themed shadow box, and other than making the figures (similar to those for this project) for inside I've made little progress. Until now!

I started with making the box since I wanted to make sure it was going to all fit together after I put huge numbers of hours into the painting. Having decided to go all out and paint the inside with tempera, I then made and applied a traditional gesso base to the inside pieces. I then started painting the inside, but decided I hated what I'd painted and the project stalled...for months...

...until one recent day when I grew so frustrated with looking at my failure that I decided to try something to fix it. I put 220 grit sandpaper on my orbital sander and sanded all the unwanted paint right off. It worked! Well, almost perfect. There were some scattered spots where the paint didn't sand off but nothing that will make a big difference with what I am doing.

I am so totally going to use a power sander next time I make gessoed panels! One of the mental barriers to making panels has been my hatred of hand sanding. Power tools are certainly worth a shot! Next to figure out how to apply gesso with a sprayer...

The painting is going to be a miniature painted room divided into two sections: a simpler, floral patterned upper area, and a more detailed lower area. The person for whom I am making this loves peacocks, so there will be peacocks in the lower section.

For the color palette my goal is to do something that uses a few pigments only so it will be harmonious, and the overall scheme to complement the figures but not overwhelm them or be too distracting.

The graphic above shows some of my progress to date. I started by drawing out the basic design, then tracing it onto the gesso using blue Saral transfer paper. Then I painted in the lines and shaded the flowers with a greenish Raw Umber. Much of the vines will be lost when I wash in the background but I will just repaint it later. These lines are more for use as a guide for the final touch up.

Next I started laying the washes for the background. With tempera there is a translucence which allows previous layers of color to show through, so using multiple layers with multiple colors creates beautiful texture and depth. The Vagone Green by Kremer is a mixture of Chrome Green and an earth green, so it brings qualities of both colors. Next I used a mixture of Bohemian Green Earth, finer than some similarly colored earth greens, and Titanium Buff. I mixed the paint 2:1 because the buff is more opaque than the green, I also used a dilute mixture. I prefer to do multiple layers of a thinner paint so I can get more even coverage at the end and not apply the color too thickly or intensely too soon.

I have started painting in the peacocks but don't have the photos ready, so more on this project later.