Painting is the one thing that keeps me from sinking into an abyss of anxiety caused by the current political/cultural/social/etc chaos. So, I paint as often as I can. That immersion has become more important than ever.

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The smoke from BC has changed the Puget Sound summer air, made it somehow thick. It's not humid here, exactly, but the air clings to the skin and the body reacts as though it were damp. The haze of smoke creates a filter that allows us to look directly at the sun, and photograph it without filling the lens with obscuring light

I painted this a few days ago, another view of Sinclair Inlet at sunset, perhaps a little more abstract than the other sunset picture. It's more about the sun than it is about the water or the land. 
I used an orange-red ground again, but this time I masked out the sun so that I could make it more intensely white. For a little while each evening, before it drops below the horizon, it blazes like this but you can still look at it. The BLP says it burns his retinas (the painting, not the actual sun). 

I posted it on FB as soon as it was done, and within hours I had an offer to purchase it. Since it will be wet for quite a while, and then will need to be varnished, I get to enjoy it for a bit before I send it off. I'm really pleased that someone wants it. I don't really have a hard time letting paintings go after the initial birthing process, but I don't have a pressing need to part with them, either. I’m thrilled that Looking At the Sun will go to someone who understands this piece. 

                           Looking At the Sun  © Rose Guastella 2017  Oils on canvas  16” x 20”

Views: 325

Comment by greenheron on August 10, 2017 at 10:19am

You are really chugging along to Hotsville. Congratulations on the sale. Maybe you can take the BLP out for a nice dinner before the nuking.

Re: smoke. A few years back, a paint plant several miles away blew up, just exploded, then burned for nearly a week because of the solvents soaked into the wooden floors. The stank permeated everything; even a loaf of bread I had on the counter tasted like it.

My thoughts on varnish. Like on wood, it gives depth to the details. But it can alter your palette subtly, and years later (if you care about this stuff), it can look like you dipped your sparkling sunset into a vat of sepia gunk. Oils, unlike chalky milky acrylics, kinda come with their own varnish. You might not want to listen to me, because all I do now is draw and what do I know about varnish in 2017, zilch, just what I see the kids doing. Maybe make a little test swatch?

Comment by koshersalaami on August 10, 2017 at 10:46am

This sounds like the Sistine Chapel ceiling, though I think those layers were from smoke.

Comment by greenheron on August 10, 2017 at 10:58am

Sistine chapel is a fresco. A very different painting process. You lay down a small section of plaster, only the amount of footage that you can finish painting before the plaster dries. Your pigment doesn't need a binder, it's just pure pigment ground fine into water. You apply that to the plaster which draws out the water and seals the pigment inside itself, so that it becomes part of the wall or ceiling, rather sitting on the surface, like paint on wood or canvas or linen. This is why it's such a bitch to restore frescoes. They have to replace the plaster and re-paint, which is why Leonardo's Last Supper has almost nothing left that was actually painted by him, just talented Italian restoration people through the ages. Smoke residue is on the surface, so can be relatively easily cleaned. Also frescoes typically aren't varnished.


Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 10, 2017 at 11:32am

I saw it about ten years ago - the color is beautiful and fresh but they removed important layers of glazed detail - that was the tradeoff.  frankly, I'd have left it alone until someone could figure a way to clean the frescoes without hurting the work.  smoke residue adhered to the pentimenti (just looked it up) and now, thanks to itchy fingered restorers - some of those layers are gone forever.

there is a good deal of hubris in the restoration field.  

Comment by Rosigami on August 10, 2017 at 11:39am

Terry, thank you. 

Monkey, I feel good about what I'm doing, and selling is not ever the goal. Still, it's nice when someone wants to own one.

Varnishing is as new as oil painting for me. That is, about 18 months or so. I don't varnish everything, especially when I want to keep the nice matte surface I prefer on some works. There are matte varnishes but research tells me they are practically an affectation and not much protection. When I do varnish, I have been using a semi-gloss varnish called Gamvar that is crystal clear, odorless, removable with mineral spirits, and is not supposed to yellow, ever. It does seem to unify the surface and it gives a little glow. 

Comment by Rosigami on August 10, 2017 at 11:40am

And I will definitely look in the maroger mediums. Sounds interesting!

Comment by Rosigami on August 10, 2017 at 11:42am

Kosh, we should be in about 93% of totality and I am looking forward to taking some pictures. Perhaps make some paintings, too. 

Comment by Rosigami on August 10, 2017 at 11:45am

greeniebird, that's the plan. We need to have some fun! Actually, he is quite wonderful about springing for dates of all kinds, and he always appreciates when I treat. 
I see that there are as many opinions on varnishing as there are artists and kinds of varnish! This is good. Thank you.

Comment by Anna Herrington on August 10, 2017 at 1:21pm

Wow - you've painted this so well the sun is hurting my eyes in your painting!  And congrats on the sale! That's gotta' feel great  : )

We're getting some of the Canadian smoke down here, too! but not nearly as bad as a couple summers ago when the entire season was basically ruined by such thick smoke you had to run indoors from the car. It's been the nicest summer weather this year - one week of well over 105 degrees in daytime aside!

I've really enjoyed seeing your paintings over the years now - you inspire me with how dedicated you are - and reading that it's also calm in the midst of - for you.... I totally understand that, for sure. For me it's the garden and canoeing and hiking and taking photos, but I do wish writing for me was as easy to sit down and dive into as painting seems to be for you!!

(and this is where I would have expected an orange red ground as an 'outsider' to painting, the fog on the water painting I liked how cool the whole thing seemed, just like the area, you really captured what I remember seeing up your way on Saturday road trips long ago now (I used to live in Olympia for awhile).... 

Comment by koshersalaami on August 10, 2017 at 1:53pm

I saw the Sistine Chapel once before restoration, as a young teenager, and later during restoration. There were arguments as to whether any of the layers were intentional. Was it intended to be muted? There were a lot of centuries of smoke. The difference in mood was shocking. After cleaning, it just popped, it was so vibrant, gorgeous in a different direction. 


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