October 16, 2011

This painting is hard to shoot and I need to quit obsessing about it

There's a lot of detail and I am clueless as to how many layers are in this painting. I vaguely remember that the stump and the tree growing out of the stump have always been present in the painting, as in real life. 
This is the painting before it reached 98 degrees in the studio. 

After a cool spell, I had turned the ac off in the studio thinking it was fall. Not. Temps rose and the train car studio got really hot. Like upper 90's, and when I walked in, the paintings that were on a table by the window looked like they had been sitting in the desert. They weren't cracked or anything- but the oil had been sucked out of them. If I were to personify them, I would say they were parched and screaming for oil, but being parched, their throats were too dry to actually scream. After a moment of shock, I decided to glaze them.  I'm not a glaze painter. Consistent glazes are too slick for me, but I'll throw down a haphazard glaze when I want to push some colors or build thin layers. 
After glazing, and shot under lights

Shooting glazes under lights is tricky and I start to wonder what's real. The painting under lights, the painting in the studio or the painting outside?

The Tree Within a Tree Never Gives Up, © mahackett, 2011
After deglazing in some areas, but shot in daylight. 

I went back in and dulled down some areas hoping it would shoot better- but this time I shot under natural light, changing two variables instead of one. Too flat. I went back in with some more glazes after I shot it trying to match the painting to the photograph. At this point the painting about a tree that keeps growing out of a stump no matter how much it is pruned, is becoming more meta than usual for me. In real life, the painting is a reasonable facsimile of a combination of all of these shots.  There's a lot of detail. It's not as shiny as the 2nd shot, and by glazing, I brought out some areas that were baked away in the first. If I'm to adhere to fat over thin, I legally can't go back in and add paint out of the tube in order to flatten it out. The painting is 7 inches by 5 inches on linen. I need to stop working on it before it comes to life and drags itself out of the studio. 

On the bright side, I have finally figured out the secret to shooting the small work is the highest aperture number. This might seem obvious, along with using a tripod, a remote, and shooting at the lowest ISO, but I've never set aside the time to do some aperture tests. About fours years later, I did that this morning. So much for using the automatic setting...pffft. 


Carla said...

cold wax? It flattens, but can be buffed. I do the same thing re: leaving whatever sheen happened in the process, but have on occasion gone back in just to tweek the sheen.

I keep wondering if video may be better documentation for some of my paintings, a moving video shot.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

I had thought of cold wax, but it's at the other studio. I may go in with some later. Buffing. forgot about that... thanks.

I knew someone who did a video of their paintings for a grant proposal. Years ago. At the time it looked cheesy, because consumer video was new and it seemed gimmicky and they were explaining their work in the video and it was my first exhusband, and I thought he sounded a tad arrogant. But now that video is just another medium, it seems like a good idea. It certainly lends itself to giving some verisimilitude.

Elaine Mari, Painter and Drawer said...

Yesterday I was sitting in front of a nurse log just like that one and couldn't figure out the painting.

The first thing that struck me about the rainforest here in BC was the nurse logs and they were the first thing I tried to paint. I love that little painting. Thanks for the detailed exposition on photographing, I need to get back to shooting raw.

How to you use the cold wax to reduce the sheen, I don't know that process.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

"Nurse Log"? I love that. Love.
Wax medium. Gamblin's web site would give a better explanation than me. It's just another medium, but gives a matte appearance rather than shiny.

Nomi Lubin said...

I'd be obsessing about this too. Can you explain why a high aperture -- that's the most closed down, right, smallest hole? -- is better for small paintings? I mean, I know means a longer focal distance, but I don't know how that helps.

Elaine Mari, Painter and Drawer said...

I know, when my scientist friend told me that's what they are called, I was thrilled. Thanks for the info on the wax.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

It's the paintings that have lot of built of texture, that this makes a difference. Being so close to the lens and having texture, the smallest aperture gives super sharp detail in both foreground & background-(background being the flatter areas of paint, and foreground being the gobs. Also, in instances of any distortion via camera lens or camera not 100% squared up, the the margin of error increased. (center of painting in focus, outside if painting out of focus- slightly.) I can thank my days as a film editor for being so hypersensitive to detail.

People who shoot jewelry probably know about the smaller aperture thing. If I get a polarizing lens and filter, I should be able to eliminate glare, and I might get pretty good at this.

Nomi Lubin said...

Ah, thank you. (Yes, polarizing filter, me too. But I'd need a polarizing lens too?)

Mary Addison Hackett said...

Yes, they work in tandem. Ironically, or not, you have to open up the aperture with the polarizing lens, softening the focus again. ROTFL. Ah, so funny.

Nomi Lubin said...

Hm. Not about to get a new lens, I don't think. I always thought you could just stick on a polarizing filter and get rid of a lot of glare and that I was just being lazy not doing it. Well, I was, but at least I know it wouldn't have been that simple.