Friday, June 2, 2006
Dark Road, 2005, Oil on Panel, 12x12
This week has been a bit frustrating in the studio due to technical reasons. I did a whole new batch of underpaintings last week that I am really looking forward to working on but they haven't dried yet! Usually they take three days, four at the most but it's been over a week and I am getting a bad feeling about my summer painting schedule. I had this problem last summer as well, but not until August. It seems that when it is especially hot and/or humid the color that I use for the underpainting can take weeks to dry. As you can imagine, this is be a real problem, especially with deadlines looming.
I have tried everything; different brands of the paint (unfortunately, using a different color isn't really an option right now, the colors I use are what helps to make my paintings, well, my paintings), closing them in a bathroom with a dehumidifier, closing them in a bathroom with a portable heater, using a drying medium (which changes the workability of the paint which again changes the look of the piece, not what I want to do right now), throwing salt over my left shoulder and then spinning counterclockwise three times quickly. Putting the piece under a good halogen light helps a bit, but for the most part, nothing works except dry and preferably cooler weather and more time.
The best way that I have found so far to deal with this is to do as many underpaintings as I can so that when they do dry I have plenty to work on and can then catch up to where I would have originally been. Naturally there are problems with this approach as well. I don't have enough space in my studio for more than about 12 or so pieces, depending on size, to be air dried. Also, having to do so many underpaintings at once can really throw off my rhythm. It's kind of like starting, but not resolving, 10 paintings each day, several days in a row and then having to pick it all up again a few weeks later. Doing this can be exhausting and disconcerting, but I did it last summer and it was ok as long as it's only a temporary way of working.
Alas, that is probably what I'll have to do. I have a solo show at the Salt Meadow Gallery in August, which until last week seemed way in the future. Now the deadline is in sight and we have had rain and humidity all week. I am guessing that I will have to solve the storage issue of drying paintings, by keeping them in our bedroom, the only room we have where I can set them up without a cat brushing up against them (in my studio I have wall shelving and the cats don't get up there). Except for the bathrooms, that is the only room in this old house that has a door with a doorknob that actually latches, but only when it's humid and the door swells up a bit. Of course.