Old Reliable

28 Jun



Honestly, I think I was more afraid to start this commission than I have ever been when starting a portrait.  The owner of this tractor loves it.  He is more than proud of it. And so my conundrum (I love that word).   Painting nature is a bit more forgiving and less precise than rendering something that has been manufactured.  Tractors are specific, they have gears & grills, shiny parts and mucky parts along with very specific angles, perspective and proportions. 

The drawing has to be precise and representational of all the details.  No room for errors here.  Have to invest the time upfront to get it right.  Typically, I approach a painting with a very loose drawing focusing on volume – how much space the subject occupies, proportions, and the best composition to do it the most justice.  So I had to switch gears with this one. No pun intended.

In order to capture the softness of the spring sky I used a gel medium to keep the acrylic paint wet longer to allow for more blending.  Then I began working on the details of the horizon and the areas between the rail fence. 

Next I fussed with getting the reds right.  I mixed and tested and mixed some more.  Somewhere along the line I began to relearn that acrylic reds are difficult.  The colors deepen as they dry – whereas with watercolor they lighten.  Often deepening for several hours after the color has been applied.  Also acrylic reds have a tendency towards streaking. Layer after layer after layer of red and orange were applied.  The next day more layering of lighter reds. You get the idea. 

And finally, it is complete and I am at the starting stage.  This is when I stare at the painting with squinty eyes and a critical view.  Looking for any area requiring tweaking and fussing.  I generally wait two- three days before sealing the work and framing – just in case….
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One Response to “Old Reliable”

  1. Julie Hill June 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Helen, thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog today…and now I get to see your work. I have enjoyed perusing your latest, and look forward to following.

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