Nancy, 12" x 16", Oil on board, January 27, 23014
Traditional painting has morphed into a fantastic new technique that uses powdered pigments mixed with castor oil. Tom thinks that well known nineteenth century English horse painter George Stubbs used a similar technique. Initially the canvas or board is coated with a smooth surface of gesso by scrapping the wet gesso over the surface. Then a razor blade is scrapped over the gesso and another coat of gesso is scrapped over until the surface is perfectly smooth. Then castor oil is mixed with dry powder pigment and applied. The mixture takes a year to dry and is workable for five months. The whole painting is wet. This allows Tom to change everything as needed. In the past he would have to finish a passage in ten days before the paint started to dry. In a year the painting is sprayed with Dammar varnish creating a permanent surface that can be cleaned with regular water. Tom decided on castor oil because it is seed oil and will dry eventually. The fun part is normally nobody touches a painting. A year passes quickly and once varnished becomes a permanent work.
Where possible, visible brush strokes are preferred. In face painting most of the surface is a very carefully stippled and brushed smooth with a clean brush lightly coated with castor oil.
At the prompting of his identical twin, Tom learned about face reading, an ancient Chinese technique, used to interpret the personality using the features of the face. Every feature has a character associated with it. Nancy’s major character is one of mother earth. Her curved eyebrows show a friendly demeanor. Her ears close to the head show a perchance to keep things to herself; her bangs indicate she wants to hide her thoughts. The line down the center of her forehead shows a singular motivation. Her chin makes her very attractive.
The painting is based in Grant Wood’s work. Looking for Grant to say something, nothing was found. Turns out he did have a biography but it was written by his good friend. Much written quotes Wood, digging will have to be done. Wood manipulated his sitters to his vision. Tom attempted to do the same thing in this work by using what he had. The shirt as a Western novelty, the background with its low horizon the face featured was approved and he spent as much time as needed to take it to a high level of realism, even the clouds, though simple, quiet and monotone, were developed completely. The landscape a variety of greens and flesh colors trying to complete the form of a landscape.
Why did Wood not write?
He taught and gave lectures but I cannot find much in the way of his own
words on the Internet. He was accomplished in many manners, design, architecture,
murals, stain glass, and still left few words. His notes are carefully
chosen and beautifully scribed. He was a pivotal powerhouse in his region.
He offered no analysis of his work. Grant was gay and that may be the
answer to the lack of writing, adding the fact that he was shy and demure
caps off the reality that we never will have his thoughts in writing,
Recommended by Angie's;
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This formal portrait is the first high quality traditional painting in the new medium. Tom is now working on a full length formal portrait of his daughter as an astronaut looking out the window of a space ship at Saturn.