In the studio 2/8/15

I worked on these paintings this morning. I painted-out some foliage in the upper-right of Three Girls. The tone in the photo of that area is more yellow–by far–than the actual tone. The under-painting is done (has been for a bit) and I’m driving toward finishing it. It’s a lot of fun painting the VW Bug. Three Girls is 40″ x 48″.

John in a White Shirt is another painting of my son John-Parker aboard our boat, the Betty Jane. The color range is deliberately narrow although there will be some splashes of red eventually. This oil is 20″ x 24″.

Two unfinished paintings on the easel: 'Three Girls', and 'John in a White Shirt' (top)

Two unfinished paintings on the easel: ‘Three Girls’, and ‘John in a White Shirt’ (top)

The ground for Three Girls is traditional gesso, which is composed of chalk and glue. I really like this surface and it’s very easy to make at home. The concern with traditional gesso is that it’s too rigid for canvas, and prone to crack. In this instance I applied only a single layer of the traditional ground in order to mitigate the problem.  Normally, you would apply several coats–as many as 12. I applied several coats of the extremely flexible acrylic gesso before finishing with the traditional gesso. Why not just use acrylic gesso? Well, I do use it for the under layers, but I always finish with a different final layer, as I recently discussed. Acrylic gesso is too rough for my taste, plus it’s non absorbent. I like semi-smooth grounds that are slightly absorbent.

Traditional gesso is ideal for wooden panels or other rigid surfaces (I sometimes use it over canvas panels).

The ground for John in a White Shirt is acrylic gesso finished with a layer of oil ground. Oil ground is the traditional gesso for canvas: oil paint with an admixture of chalk. You apply oil grounds with a scrapper of spatula. You can also apply it with a brush, which is my preferred method. In this painting, I applied the oil ground with a scrapper. Scrapper-applied grounds are too smooth for my style.


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