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”

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Comment by Foolish Monkey on August 10, 2017 at 8:54am

PS.  look into maroger mediums.  it's a damaar/stand oil rich medium and very luxe.  VERY luxe.  if used exclusively eliminates the need to varnish.  I don't know about the commercially made mediums...I make my own depending on what kind of medium I want. 

Comment by koshersalaami on August 10, 2017 at 9:44am

I see what the BLP means.

If the eclipse hit your neighborhood, you'd be able to watch it with no equipment. Everyone would be in your neighborhood. 

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.


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