July 31st is my Birthday and always a day that is reserved for special activities. A number of these July 31st have been used to do what is never done throughout the year: start a painting and finish it all in one day.
It takes from two weeks to over a month of evenings and weekends to complete a work of art. Picking the music and completing it all in one day requires more spontaneity and faster decision making, that leads to different techniques being tried, and lessons learned, which helps push everything forward.
Five songs were picked the night before mainly because each could be a possible fit on a 6 foot canvas with 80 millimeters notes: Bridge Over Trouble Water, I Am the Walrus, Against the Wind, Comfortably Numb, and The Long and Winding Road. Comfortably Numb was quickly dropped because of the note range made it difficult to fit the 2 foot height of the canvas. The rest eventually where dropped because of lack of interest, available words, or note length. The Long And Winding Road was finally chosen for these reasons: Great Beatles song, the note range and number would fit, and the words ” Anyway I’ve Tried” fit nice as a reflection of the artist thoughts and a twist to the original wording.
When doing a fast painting a technique for choosing colors was tried again this year. The previous year it was a painting by Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheatfield With Crows that provided the color theme. This year Landscape At Twilight was chosen (image from the Vincent Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam).
The colors of the this painting completed by Van Gogh a month before his death, provided the color choices. This became over the hours a huge time saver when it came to color decisions. Coming back to that painting, from the book Van Gogh’s Van Goghs, kept everything in focus and the path straight (for the most part), became a great discipline tool, and prevented the loss of direction which could have killed the timeline.
It starts this way with a few lines in pencil drawn for the placement of the musical staff.
The base paints used are always acrylics (they dry in minutes), mostly Golden paints, but this time a Liquitex heavy body Cadmium Yellow light hue started it all.
Here looking at the Van Gogh painting certain areas gained color emphasis. This occured through out the day until the point where the work needed to define its own identity, which became evident in the later evening.
Interestingly in the past most of the movement of the base colors for the staffs have been horizontal to emphasize the movement of the music across the canvas. This time the greens of paint where all applied with vertical strokes to relate to the grasses in the Van Gogh picture.
Did not think the background was done, but had to break for an early dinner.
4:03 pm to 5:30 pm Dinner at a Downtown restaurant with the mango margarita being better then the meal.
Returning to the painting, surprisingly, the time away had allow the acrylics to dry completely which now made the work appear to pop. That was all that needed to move forward to begin placing the music.
The color for the notes, green with darker edging was chosen to match Van Gogh’s structure of the trees. Although, he made have used black for his edging, for this work a water based Phthalo Green Blue Shade was used. Water based oils by Winsor & Newton are used because they dry slowly allowing more time to shape the images.
The use of Cobalt Blue, comes from the building and near by from the middle area of the Van Gogh painting, was added to create a flow for the painting horizontally. More vertical greens where added to fill in and enhance that effect.
The beams and the two flags on the 8th notes were a challenge. A techniques that is being used on the current project, The Very Thought of you, did not work here. There was moments of doubt and some direction loss. What brought it all back on track was the excepting of limits and returning to the Van Gogh paintings color choices to make the decisions needed to move on.
Here all the notes where given their final shape and color mix with the edges darkened as much as possible, again to reflect Van Gogh edging technique from the painting.
The Finished work. The two ties, (those swirly things) where another stumbling point, but again the Van Gogh painting colors came to the rescue and Burnt Sienna was used that worked out great. Finally the signature, small an faint by normal standards, was put in the middle left of the canvas, again using a Van Gogh color choice, Raw Sienna, instead of the normal Cadmium Reds that would not fit this look.
The tired and late look (forced smile) of the artist and the painting The Long and Winding Road.
(a larger and higher quality image of The Long and Winding Road will be appearing on the artist website in the next day)