Do you know how, when you open a bottle of champagne —or in my case proscecco— you have to either finish it right away, or develop some method to keep it from going flat? There’s a clock ticking on that bottle and you know that you have to drink it, or you’re going to have to throw it away (or if you are clever, repurpose it as an ingredient in a culinary masterpiece, such as risotto). Yes I know they have those air-stopper things, but do they really work? I always use a recycled rubber cork (from my favorite table red, Hey Mambo), and aim to finish the bottle in a couple of days. Well, the same is true for alla prima oil painting. No dilly-dallying allowed. You have got to finish the work right away. And of course, the larger you go, the more physically demanding the task.
Oil paint takes a long time to dry —months as opposed to days— but the consistency and character of the paint changes quickly. Some color mixes form a film at the surface, and others develop drag. Most of the time you have 24 hours, but the thinner the layer and the dryer the conditions, the faster the paint will set. There are a few tricks you can employ to buy yourself a little more time —and you can carefully follow rules about paint “thickness”, aka oiliness— but from the moment you begin, the race is really on. I started this piece —along with ‘Stirred’, posted on 1/5— yesterday morning and I didn’t have time to finish. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
Today proved to be another challenging day. This time, the distraction was New England weather; rain on top of snow with a fast-following freeze. I had chores to tend to —hand-sanding the entire, 1,650′ driveway— in order to keep my studio access open. I made it. But the natural light was already lost by the time I took this photo. So, this afternoon, I had to deal with the challenge of tungsten lights. I prefer to document my work with natural, indirect illumination, but as the Stones say, “. . .you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need”.
And now for that left-over prosecco.