what was it that i was last talking about before this long traverse to spain and morocco and burying a dear friend– mr spike– at sea? i remember now… the painting!! or, rather, at that time it was a mere sketch, messy pencil marks on a canvas that looked like mascara after a good weep– not that i know what that is like, and nothing wrong in a guy wearing mascara either. whatever, the painting. by the time i left to go tramping around spain it had already begun– as a matter of fact, i had made good progress upon it, at least in a structural sense– the framework was all there and steadily pushing back the grubby whiteness that seemed to cover the whole image.

just the complementary colors though, like looking through a kaleidoscope through the wrong end. when i got back from my vacation it took a little while to reformulate in my brain what i wanted to do, and things began slowly slowly slowly. the view of someone lacking good eyesight in early morning dimness, you had to squinch your eyes up just right to see anything. i began to call it “peach abrigo”, as it was an early morning view, and i wanted a lot of peach tones in the scene.

after a while it began to show out some form and balance, but that first stage of the piece seems to take so very long, and it is hard for me to see just what i want to do. things look flat and dull, and for good reason– the first stage of the piece is just the basic painting, the “canvas” upon which the rest of the piece is painted, but still i stuggled a bunch, trying to balance the colors without it looking too deliberate, working through a progression of tones and trying to think ahead, to where i would bring it next.

things began to accelerate, and i was moving through my progressions with some facility and confidence, and finally i was at the end of phase 1– the painting– even doing a little bittuv work on that pesky little boat in the foreground. now i had to get down to brass tacks and start phase 2– light and shadow.

work went swiftly, and i made a lot of progress, feeling almost invulnerable and in control. a false sense of security, really, given to me by the fact that i was on the easy part, sitting high above the gaping yawp at the wide end of the funnel. but as time went on the progressions became harder, the margin of error thinner, choosing the exact color more important– the funnel narrowed, and i began to get attacks of SPF– this has nothing to do with horribly sunburns though– it stands for “Sphincter Pucker Factor”, and at times the fear was so bad that, were i to break wind, it would sound like the notes issuing from the bell of maynard ferguson’s (king of the high “C”s) horn– dogs miles away would prick up their ears!! only slightly kidding.

everything, even the movement of my brushstokes, became magnified and overly important, and i had to push myself a times to do anything, afraid of messing it up. most of these moments turned out to be good though, making me think it through and mix the paints in my brain, getting exactly what i wanted out of it. i don’t claim to be a super technician at this, it is all done by some sort of sense of feel, walking the tightrope as it were, afraid of falling but going on nevertheless.

especially important for the aforementioned pesky little boat, which i agonised over at length, trying to figure out just how to make it look like it was in the shadow thrown by the trees unseen outside the right border of the painting, yet leaving the canvas shade atop it in sunlight. finally, a special mix of cobalt green, grey, transparent white and some gel and a healthy dose of loin girdling and it just went down– and i was finished up with phase two. tomorrow i begin with phase 3– special effects, the zing, or for those cinematic officiandos of vietnam celluloid– hope you get the referrence– “the weenie”. see you on the other side