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Progress toward Cat / Wombat!

I did the hardest task I had ahead for working on Cat in Garden and Wombat in Garden, the diptych that I'm painting in Mont Marte soft pastels on Colourfix sanded pastel paper for laurenmitchell as my half of the way-too-long-ago Great Australian Art Supply Swap. This is the three-drawer pastels box that I have the Mont Marte pastels in, which up till today was sitting across the room on a taboret that's way out of reach, though it used to be right next to me very handy.

It's now in reach and usable again. I haven't used these supplies since before the move to Arkansas because of how my room is laid out here. It's smaller than my room in Kansas and the wall the table's on has less space, so the taboret did not wind up holding the printer. It wound up across the room holding all the wood box sets of anything out of the way and looking nice.

This meant that I couldn't get at anything in it regularly and so anything I did using supplies in that handy little box went undone. Lauren commented about it to my Writer's Block entry yesterday and that reminded me of what I was about to plunge into just before the move -- finishing that pair of good pastel paintings and finally shipping them to Lauren.

Once again I've had to be glad to put the disclaimer on any art I do for anyone that it may take years to finish. Unless I can do it in a day or two, things happen and getting back into working on it is hard. Often that's for logistic reasons. I didn't realize how much this interfered until I was emailing a friend talking about how I felt so much better now that I have a plan -- to get this pastels box moved to its current position sometime before October 1st and then finish the diptych during October.

So while emailing, I thought, why not just get it done now? Then even if today's a lousy day -- it's soggy overcast and arthritically achy outside again with lousy light -- at least I know I've done something important. It was a lot more difficult than just putting either side of the diptych onto a drawing board and pulling it into my lap.

I was working on an easel with it but the way this smaller room is set up, I might not be using that easel for it. I might on a lively day get out my field easel that only weighs three pounds, use it and break it down again after the session, but an easel set up in this tiny room would take up all of the floor space in it. All of it. Then I'd have to clamber over the armchair in order to get in or out of bed plus swivel the armchair around facing either the easel or the table -- much easier to just grab the smaller drawing board, put one side of the diptych on it at a time and stand back from it in the hallway if I want to see them both together.

Which would work propping up the bigger drawing board holding both and balancing that on top of the now-not-so-handy but still beautiful taboret across the room.

The wood box sets on top of the taboret are in some ways easier to get at than they used to be. I've used the Holbeins a couple of times now just grabbing them off the stack, opening it and using the bed as a side table for setting out supplies. It's not so great an idea putting the three drawer box on the waterbed though. It's not a flat thing you open and lay out, it'd bob up and down every time I opened a drawer. Its best use is right on the table where its bottom drawer can also start catching all the small useful things like rulers, magnifying glasses, pencil sharpeners and bits of kneaded eraser that accumulate to cover the entire table surface otherwise.

So in clearing up for that I actually also cleaned and organized the top of my drawing table. This raised a lot of dust.

I also got my QuickCam installed on the netbook, this is what I used to snap the photo of the setup. That wasn't nearly as hard, the album of CDs and DVDs lives under the table where I can get out anything from Diablo to a dinosaur video to watch with Sascha and just pop it in. But I solved a cords problem in the process and now know that it's the CDRW on the left-side USB port and the printer on the right side rear one behind the mouse connector.

Of course I guessed wrong at first and tried to install software while the external CDRW was unplugged and the not-in-use printer was still plugged in. So that got silly.

Sometimes a bad day becomes a day of pushing and getting things done if it's not back pain per se. This was just an achy all over feel rotten day and I don't feel that much worse for pushing it, except now I've got the back twinge that says I've done enough and it's time to sit still and rest. For me, that was a lot, a whole lot of activity. But it's behind me now and compared to that, just working on the paintings will be relatively easy.

I set myself a tentative goal -- not deadline but goal -- to finish Cat/Wombat during October as part of artsomofo so I can post progress on it daily as I get there on it. I created some problems for myself in the underpainting on them but the animals both came out so well that I don't feel like running a vacuum cleaner over the sanded pastel paper or trying to wash it off to start over. It's got a good composition and it looks good, I just need to knock down some of the brighter layers and jazz up the earth-toned animals so that I can bring both the subject and the background to the same degree of colorfulness -- without making the background intrude as more important than the animals.

It's tricky but I've had some time to think about it and I am pretty confident now that I can do something cool with that background even if the hedge is currently bright royal blue. I can get it down to a muted dark green with a loose conifer-like texture so it looks like what I intended -- a clipped box hedge at the edge of a garden these animals are raiding.

Of course while moving furniture I'm also doing still more preliminary work, visualizing the processes. That's the only thing that really justifies the delays. I wind up doing what I do with the sumi-e paintings, thinking about the project ten to a hundred times longer than I spend actually putting pigment on the substrate. It means when I do paint, it's liable tc look very fast and decisive, come out well.

I'm looking forward to it, really anticipating working on it again. Got some ideas on how to handle the tulips too last night and this afternoon that'll be fun. I think it's time to depart from references and work from what's there till it looks good.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
You organize your stuff by color/temp too!!!
Sep. 19th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Of course, always do! That's always stimulating. When it's organized that way it makes me want to get it out and use it.
Sep. 19th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
I do that with my (one, very old) set of Derwent pencils, too.

Don't stress about finishing it. I know the deal :)
Sep. 20th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC)
I'm not stressing. Getting the hardest part over with has made it exhilarating again. I pushed myself to do the setup on a bad day without making it that much worse, now I've gotten it organized so I'm a lot more relaxed and confident about finishing it. I was more stressed about the delay when I hadn't done anything toward getting set up for it and it seemed impossible to set up for it again.

Today I used up one of my sketchbook pages doing some color tests for mixes on the royal blue to get "hedge green" the way I want it.

None of them are exact, I may use all those colors to get it right and the texture isn't right. But it helped me get it in my head. I hope to finish in October -- if I don't and October turns into more of a month of cat gestures and small pieces then it's the weather and I have to accept it. But with doing daily art it seemed like the perfect dovetail -- put it in reach and work on it any day that I'm up to it in what should be my best season of the year.

Today I also ordered the Priority Mail boxes again to ship it. They got misplaced in the move and I got fed up with waiting for them to come up out of the low-priority stuff in the garage. They're free, so I just ordered more from the post office and they'll be here in about ten days. I got my foam boards up here and that was the other Logistical Nightmare about it.

Cutting foam boards to protect it is another physical-intensive task, but not as bad as the stairs.

Fair warning though, if I botch this completely I may substitute something else, like just a wombat in a different setting that's easier and toss in more butterflies. That's the part I'm stressed about -- what if I throw everything I've got into it and it's hideous in the final version? But if it is, I'll at least be able to save the wombat by brushing off all the colors from around it and doing a completely different and maybe blurry background.
Sep. 20th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
I don't think you'll botch it :D
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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