I have a thing…with string.
Or I do, at least, in my new painting. Flashback: It all began with a simple photo of radishes at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. A HUGE batch of super-red, stacked radishes, that is. Bountiful, and bursting forth with string-like roots snaking every which direction. Argh! I’m having an aesthetic fit!! Calm down, now, Beastie. Hmmm…the radish roots seem very string-like, me thinks. How about some thread, adhered to the surface of the plexiglass, echoing the stringy-roots? And, because sheet music’s grid-like structure could add contrast to the circular radish forms, I’ll add it to the background (though I somewhat regret that later).
After 2 weeks of non-posting(C’mon, Sarah, get it togetha! You made a promise to yourself to paint a painting and post about it weekly! Sheesh! What can I say, I spent time with my boys and my husband at the Oregon Coast. No posting…but you all were in my mind the whole time. Really!), I set out to begin the task of strings and radishes singing a tune on plexi.
Here is how the painting came about:
A detail showing squares of sheet music and string adhered to the surface of the plexiglass
Moving ahead with my initial ideas, I gessoed over the sheet music and the string and drew in the composition. In my photo, the composition was somewhat split in half in the top, where the 75 cent sign was; a big no-no in the rules of composition. I added another sign above and slightly to the left to shift the weight to the left.
When I finished the drawing, it looked pretty crazy. There were pencil lines everywhere. Along with the string and music squares, I could hardly tell what was where…how…who? Not sure if it would turn out at all. The string caused most of the confusion, but I kept my hopes up. Stringing me along, it was, with hopes of grandeur. Keep going, Sarah! Don’t lose hope! However, with all the chaos facing me, I worried I might lose the white roots of the radishes. There was so much going on.
Pre-painting drawing. Kind of crazy, I know. Can you tell what’s going on?
The roots were an important piece of the painting, but I wanted to paint quickly. Solution? Frisket the roots! Frisket is a masking fluid, applied to a surface of a painting to resist paint, then later removed. Anything beneath the frisket remains unpainted. So I could paint all the radishes at once without being concerned about keeping the roots clear of paint. Good enough, and I’ve used it plenty of times in the past, for whiskers or hair, especially. You can see the slightly glossy frisket painted on the roots below:
Detail of radish roots showing applied frisket.
At this point, I remembered a horrible fact. I had used frisket once before on a gessoed plexiglass painting, and it DIDN’T REMOVE! Just like Bazooka gum on a shoe! Yikes! Ruined the whole painting. The tacky stuff adhered, in a weird way, to the gesso. It had been an old jar of frisket, though. I tested a corner on my painting where the offending material resided. I touched a corner of it with the rubber remover thingy. It lifted up, and, similar to those rubber glue things that attach pseudo credit cards to advertisements you get in the mail, it pulled up beautifully. Whew, whew, whew!
Sheesh! The stress of the art beast!
Loading a 2″ wide wash brush, saturated with varying amounts of sap green and quinacridone red, I placed the dark green mixture directly into the leaf and dark radish shadow areas. Immediately, before the green dried, I covered the radish area with the 2″ brush, fully loaded with quinacridone red, working around the green areas, but letting it all bleed together. I then worked quickly to lay in the green onions and celery. Here is the first wash:
First wash of radishes, green onions, and celery
Hmmm…the radishes look like a big red blob! If I place some red below the sign in the lower RH corner, it might fix The Blob. It helped. After it all dried, I went into the radishes again and pulled out their circular shapes. I let that layer dry, then, crossing my fingers, removed all the frisket. Hallelujah, it released! The radishes looked pretty good, albeit still a little confusing. I ignored that thought, though, and worked on the signs and detail in the onions.
After removing the frisket, I worked on the details of the veggies and the signs.
Can you see the string fling thing in the green onions? Kinda cool, huh? Maybe it will all be okay? The upper RH corner seemed to lack confidence, though, and I struggled with the music grids. I whited it all out a little with gesso and still wasn’t happy with it. Huh. Fight fire with fire. Maybe in this case, less is NOT more! I cut up more music and glued it on, hopefully making it all seem more intentional. HA!
Adding more music to the upper RH corner.
After the matte medium dried, I added more string and covered it with a light layer of gesso.
Here is an up-close detail of the strings by the green onions:
Detail of string near green onions
Finished painting, below:
Radishes and String Music, watercolor on plexiglass, 22×30
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results of this painting. As you can see, I’ve added tomatoes at the upper top LH corner to echo and somewhat subdue the dominance of the radishes. My focal point is in the 75 cent sign/green onion/radish area, where I’ve provided the most detail, the darkest darks, and the white of the sign. Everything else is the supporting cast for this area. My favorite area, though, is the green onion area. I painted these super-fast, I love the strings winding around them, and they come off looking fresh and real. I also love the tomatoes in the upper right. They are very loose, painted in one wash, beginning with the green tops and working around the green with deep, warm red. The great thing is, they LOOK like tomatoes (hmmm…must…do…tomato painting next…).
Hope this inspired you to get out the paints and feed the beast! Let me know what you have been working on! Thanks for reading and supporting this post. 🙂