Painting on a Prepainted Background

September 27, 2012

See the post for full details.

Above: Gouache painting (Pentel Pocket Brush Pen Sketch beneath, completely covered) on a prepainted background where a note was collaged down first. (7 x 9 inch hand made journal I bound with Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper.)

On September 16 I posted this prepainted background and another. I've since shown you what happened to the orange/red/green splotching background. Above you can see what I did to the green/blue/yellow background. (The colors are accurate here as this is a scan. The first posting shows a photograph without proper lighting.)

Sometimes Dick leaves me notes for when I return from my biking (because he has since left for work). I like to keep those notes. When I go on trips I actually fold them and will carry one around in my wallet like a talisman. There is something calming about his signature, penned with one of his fountain pens (he carries about 6). If I miss a bus or get held over in an airport I'll take it out and look at it. (You can tell I never really warmed to cell phones! I think people have more important things to do with their day than hear me whine about a missed connection. It's all those years of traveling without such "conveniences.")

Dick doesn't date and time his notes (I know, I know, how is that possible?). When I stick them in my journal as I did here on September 13, I write down the date below the note. 

It was five more days before I painted on the spread. I had only three spreads left in the journal. I had skipped this page spread because of the collaged element and the knowledge I wanted to paint on the spread. (I don't mind a little disruption to chronology in my journals, especially at the end of a journal.)

A couple days before I painted this eggplant I was visiting a friend's parents and her mom was rummaging in the garden. She found this small (probably 5 inches long—I painted it larger than life size) eggplant that she had missed when making moussaka. "You want it?" she asked, plucking it from the plant and holding it towards me.

How could I resist such a lovely art deco styled botanical specimen?

It was several days before I had a moment to paint it—it was late at night after a brutal session of life drawing when I wondered if I could even still see! I put the plant on the TV stand and sat on the floor. A TV show I'd been watching earlier was paused (so I could go and get my paints; I'd watch it later).

Dick wandered in getting ready for bed and watched me sketch and then paint. After a few moments he started to laugh. "You kept looking up at the screen and Matthew Perry, but you weren't drawing him. I didn't see the eggplant right way."

Gouache Tips:
How do you get that lovely dark color on the eggplant body? Mixes of Helio Turquoise (Schmincke) and Quin Red (M. Graham—I would have preferred Schmincke's Purple Magenta, but I didn't have a tube of it out and the Quin Red, which is still a little on the cool side had some benefits being also warmer than the magenta. Depending on how I ran my mixes I could get a very rich dark black and a red or blue cast to my purple). There's also some Cobalt blue in there. I slathered the paint on in a thick creamy state so that I would hide all the pen brush lines, but then I went back in with a little bit of Schmincke Titanium white to blend up some of the highlights. 

Most of my time was spent with the stem—laying in Schmincke gouache colors (Vanadium Yellow, Titanium Gold Ochre, Helio Turquoise [to blend greens on the page], Burnt Sienna) and a small touch of the Quin Red from M. Graham. Since I wanted all the black brush lines to be covered and the top of the plant was so similar in color to the background I went rather stylized, but I still had a lot of fun with the paint.

I used mostly a filbert as wide as my index finger that I could turn on edge for thin lines. Some final details were put in with a small round brush. 

If it had not been late at night I probably would have fussed out more color variation in the eggplant body, but I liked the finish the way it was and just added the scarring. The shadow had been added when the body of the eggplant was still moist so there could be some blending into the shadow.

    • Miss T
    • September 27, 2012

    Lovely painting, Roz. Remind me to tell you about this summer’s eggplant project.

  1. Reply

    First, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that anyone has someone in their life that leaves them notes like that. SHOULD BE MORE! We all need a talisman in our pockets! Second, just thank for the continued reminders of options and potentials. Maybe I don’t have a Rubenesque eggplant, but it does spark the brain into action. Or rather the eye and hand. And the backgrounds. Ahhh….

  2. Reply

    Miss T. I will, and if I forget you will remind me right? Just had a grueling morning holding Phyl up for an X-ray while I was swathed in jury rigged lead. It was surreal. And I kept telling them that she couldn’t stand, but noooooo. Oh well. I’m taking a long lunch!

  3. Reply

    Thanks Karen, didn’t even see that until you mentioned it but that looks just like a trunk. Sadly the little white flecks look like TEETH in that scenario—a sort of saber-toothed elephant!

  4. Reply

    Thanks Lizzie Bo, we are a very “literary” household, neither one of us being very far from pen and paper ever. And he knows it makes a difference. It’s so much nicer (for me) than flowers (which I’m allergic to after all).

    If Rubenesque eggplants are not around I can testify that bell peppers make the most fantastic models. Apples are usually good too. And pears, even celery. I hope you find something to sketch today in the plant kingdom.

    • Karen E
    • September 27, 2012

    I probably wouldn’t have seen the elephant except that my camera bag looked like a turtle the other day.

  5. Reply

    Perfect match of background and focal point. You must be psychic to know what to choose for prepainted pages. The best part is looking through the journal a few years from now and reading the note.

  6. Reply

    Karen, great to talk with you—I think you should start keeping a list of things that look like other things!

  7. Reply

    That’s exactly right Molly. I’m psychic. Ha. I am not above bending the local color of something to work with the background of something! I just like to play.

    Yes, looking through the journals over the years and seeing those notes is great fun. One of my favorite can be seen here

    Not only is it a longer note, on a prepainted background, but the dog’s face is actually morphed into a self portrait. And as I say in that post the whole experience reinforced what I have always known, that it’s a good thing to push myself to draw no matter how crappy things seem.

    I like that piece so much I scanned it and removed the gutter seam in Photoshop and have it framed and very larger on my wall (larger than originally painted). I can look up at it at any time for encouragement.

    We all need that in our lives from time to time.

    Thanks for

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  9. Reply

    Thanks Adrianne.

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