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 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. 

Comment by greenheron on August 11, 2017 at 4:36am

Kosher that restoration was huge deal in the art community when it happened, so everyone was following and weighing in. I only watched it through photographs, but it certainly was dramatic.

The reason I know about frescoes is because I took a class in it and made a few. It's a strange and challenging process, can't really call it a technique. The damp plaster sucks the pigment and water away from your brush like a paper towel, so it feels very different from painting. One of the characteristics of frescoes is the luminous color, how clear and intense it is. Ultramarine is made from lapis lazuli ground fine and it's brilliant. When frescoes are newly created they just vibrate with color. Since the pigment becomes the plaster, light acts differently than it does when it hits a painted surface.

In terms of conservation, frescoes are a nightmare to conservationists. Not just incense/candle smoke, but roof leaks and water damage, structural cracking, nesting crapping birds, and the fact that plaster just doesn't last. Light itself is extremely damaging to the fugitive pigments prone to fading. You can take a painting off it's stretcher and store it in climate controlled storage. A fresco is a permanent part of the architecture. 

Art historians love the Sistine restoration because it revealed all sorts of details they didn't know were there and now they can go write and argue about them for another two hundred years. Personally, I like how things age, and if you've ever seen my work, I like things that are shades of brown. My freelance photographer friend has a gig right now at the pyramids and the past two mornings I've woken up to pix he's sent. Those things are so old! The stones all chipped and cracked, yet you can still see that humans shaped them, and how amazing the whole creation is. There's such beauty in the aging for me. It shows time, boatloads of time to us, nothing in terms of the earth or the universe. We're such impermanent nothings. I like being reminded of that.

Rosi, sorry to co-opt your post for an art detour! I love these art posts tough :) so much more soothing than talking politics and Kim Jong Un. 

Comment by greenheron on August 11, 2017 at 4:43am

Almost forgot. Rosi, Gamblin comes and gives in class demos to students and courts me to pimp their products. They have a nice website that has podcasts and interviews (and also pimps their products...but they are pretty good products!)  I saved the URL for you, and checked out the one on oil painting which seemed pretty good. You could just listen to it while you are painting...

Comment by Steel Breeze on August 11, 2017 at 6:18am

R&L.......but.......i see a wormhole......engage!

Comment by Rosigami on August 11, 2017 at 6:49am

Hi Anna, thanks for your comments here. Canoeing and hiking and taking pictures- it sounds just lovely. We do a bit of that when time and weather permit. It renews the soul..

Comment by Rosigami on August 11, 2017 at 6:59am

greenfeatherwoman, please continue to talk about art or anything else! I don't feel co-opted at all. 
I like Gamblin's products and have been to their website many times- will definitely check out their podcasts, which I have not ever done yet. It is exhilarating knowing that there is so much more to explore in painting.  
Actually I need silence and lots of it when I am painting. Immersion is an ongoing conversation with the picture that needs my total attention. I don't listen to music- too distracting, maybe because I am a musician, and I want to hear everything- and I don't even like it when the BLP comes in to say hi. 

Comment by Rosigami on August 11, 2017 at 6:59am

Steel. Oh if only it were. I'd be through that thing in a New York minute. 

Comment by Terry McKenna on August 11, 2017 at 7:03am

Rosi: just remember when using any oils (mediums etc), fat over lean..  so more full bodied paint atop thinner washes below.  If you do the reverse, you will get quick cracking.  

Comment by Rosigami on August 11, 2017 at 7:16am

Terry, that's the first rule I learned- so important! And so far, I've had no issues with cracking. 

When I first started with oils, I accidentally mixed some raw umber acrylic paint with sap green oil paint, and it curdled and did some weird stuff on the surface. Luckily I was able to scrape it all off and continue.
I keep all my paints on separate carts, so I'm not sure how the acrylic tube landed on the oil cart (probably one of my students put it away and I didn't notice) but that was a very good learning experience.  


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