Late Night Texturing, in Company and Departing from Andrew Wyeth

Re-Working the Hopper Composition

Re-Working the Hopper Composition

I work in drybrush when my emotion gets deep enough into a subject.  So I paint with a smaller brush, dip it into color, splay out the brush and bristles, squeeze out a good deal of the moisture and color with my fingers so that there is only a very small amount of paint left.  Then when I stroke the paper with the dried brush, it will make various distinct strokes at once, and I start to develop the forms of whatever object it is until they start to have real body.  But, if you want to have it come to life underneath, you must have an exciting undertone of wash.  Otherwise, if you just work drybrush over a white surface, it will look too much like drybrush.  A good drybrush to me is done over a very wet technique of washes.

Andrew Wyeth, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: A Conversation with Andrew Wyeth, by Thomas Hoving

My thoughts tonight have been quite disjunctive: I’ve been sitting in my comfy chair re-reading the Basquiat biography by Phoebe Hoban, taking notes for my A. P. Art History lectures on Neo Expressionism, and flitting over to my drafting table to add more layers to my “Edward Hopper” style watercolor.  Yesterday I began the lengthy process of preparing the foreground for drybrush, taking Andrew Wyeth’s ideas seriously.  After many years of playing with this, I have parted ways with the Master on several details.  I still lay down several layers of wash before beginning the drybrush, but I also interweave several layers of masquing with the masquepen so I can get some weed-like lines to emerge eventually, ranging from the white of the paper to several off-white, wheat-colored lines from the overlaid washes.  I have four layers of wash and masquing underneath all this.  Late last night I peeled off all the masquing after putting down my first attempts at drybrush.

But because of the time constraints, I have stopped using a small brush and squeezing out all the water.  I have found this process to turn my project into days and weeks of work, and I just don’t have that, with my job and my advanced age.  So, I discovered a much larger brush (size 12 round, Winsor & Newton sable) that holds a great deal of water and still forms a razor sharp point.  I use it like a fountain pen to add dozens and dozens and dozens of curvy, calligraphic, razor-sharp lines of varying sepias and bronzes and browns, and I occasionally jam the tip into the paper to splay it into several points and keep on laying down multiple lines.  This makes the process go much faster.  Tonight I have bent over this composition and added hundreds of lines, points, dashes, scribbles, fingerprints and funky texturing patterns to the foreground, hoping that eventually it will emerge to look like an overgrown, weedy, unkempt yard.

The night is getting very, very late.  In twenty-four hours I will be forced to go to bed early to start summer school.  So . . . this is most likely my last “creative” late night episode to post, and believe me, these nights have been a genuine joy.

Working Late into the Night

Working Late into the Night

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am never really alone.


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