Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paint? Not yet

Today has been prep day for painting (wall kind, not fine art kind.)  I was hoping to get some actual paint on the walls today, but it's almost 1am local time here and I've just finished filling in all the holes in the wall.

I may do some hand-painted details around the room after the regular paint is up, if I'm feeling brave.  Stuff like that is notoriously tricky, so I'm not planning anything really big or dramatic--maybe some leaves around light switches and such.  If I didn't have so many other writing and art projects on my list, I might plan out a trompe l'oeil on the section of wall between the sliding glass door and the big window.  In particular I'd love to do an ivy plant growing out of a Green Man pot with maybe a butterfly on one of the leaves and probably a caterpillar or two.

With those sorts of things it's best to first make a master sketch that you then guard with your life so that if it works out you can use it over and over again.  You transfer the master sketch onto canvas or, preferably, a board painted with the same latex you have painted on the wall as a ground.  You then paint your subject in oils if you have an oil-based paint on the wall or acrylics if it's latex, taking notes and/or pics as you go along.  If you're satisfied with your project, you then transfer the sketch onto the wall and paint it step by step (skipping any errors and making improvements as you can) and then you can sell the painting on the canvas or board.  If it didn't turn out, you shouldn't put it on the wall!  Just paint over the board or canvas and start again.  It's much less aggravating  perfecting your project on a board than making a mistake on the wall, especially since trompe l'oeils are notoriously hard to cover.  It's doable, but you have to treat it just like dark paint on the wall--a couple of coats of primer, and then two or three coats of your wall paint.  Why are they tough to cover?  Because even really good paint is just a wee bit translucent.  With a monocolor on a wall, there may be some of the underlying color showing through your paint, but not enough to notice anything but the most overt change in hue from your paint chip.  When there's a pattern, though, the eye is really good at picking up subtle variations in a monotone and you'll see just that hint of pattern under the paint unless you have enough pigment to cover the pattern so the eye can no longer detect it.

By the way, there's a particularly wonderful Green Man here, though it's not my favorite so far.  My favorite was created by my good friend Roz, and it's hanging on her wall at her house.  I've yet to find one that equals the depth of emotion and expression.

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