MMH Learns to Paint

A Houston summer weekend without air conditioning? Not fun, even with ceiling fans and one floor fan that we move from room to room. Seems that the fan motor in my attic stopped functioning. On Saturday, the temperature in this house of mine got warmer and warmer, even though the compressor  outside never stopped. My theromstat was signaling that a service call was needed. Immediately. I decided it was serious enough for a weekend house call. Even with that, nothing can be done until Monday, that is if I want the work done under warranty. So we are sweating.
But it hasn't stopped us from turning the dining room table into a mini studio. ES is painting with water colors and he has been teaching me how to paint with acrylics and how to use acrylic gel. The gel part is important because for decades, I've wanted to mix photos with fabrics, ribbons, words and small objects and have worked at this with varying degrees of success and failure. I am hoping that acrylic gel will be the magic unifier of these disparate textures. I bought 11 x 17 canvases, the same size as the collages I used to make on Kodak's N surface polycontrast paper. (Sure do look like my mom in this photo.)

Last night I photographed vintage postcards I bought at flea markets in Paris. I spent a lot of time pouring through stacks of old postcards, searching for images of the places Aggie and I visited, so I can match them up with our photographs when we put our book together. I printed a few of the postcard images for ES and me to use, including this one of Sacre Coeur. I still have a story to tell about Sacre Coeur. Coming soon.

Of course, ES has a finished watercolor already that includes a small image of Marie Antoinette's Le Temple de l'Amour at Versailles. The image sits at the bottom of a very disturbing painting that foretells the blood bath to come. That's how ES describes it.
I've not gotten very far. Or maybe I have. Painted four 11 x 14 canvases with very watered down paint which gives a transparent quality. Dried them in the sun and then added a second coat. Put ochre over the red canvas and the look becomes almost metallic, coppery. Added a coat of yellow ochre over the pale green canvas and now it has a very nostalgic look to it.
ES says that yellow ochre is an opaque earth color. By thinning it with mat medium, one makes it less opaque and by covering a painting with a thin finish of ochre, the surface of the painting will have multi-dimensioned color.
I put a squeeze of raw umber in a couple of my paint mixes too. ES tells he uses more and more raw umber these days, because he is being influenced by the palette in this home of mine. I've noticed that his paintings are taking on subtle muted tones which I love. A different look, from what he calls, the harsh brassiness of earlier paintings. He also tells me that when he designed sets for Houston Grand Opera's production of 'Faust' in mid-1980s, the set designer told him that a touch of raw umber in any color allows it to harmonize with all the others. Nice to know.
Photo above shows the first transparent coat. Here's the second coat and some fabric scraps for contemplation. I am delighted to have a teacher right here at my dining room table. Truth be known, I've used left over house paint in my collages forever. They, of course, were all the colors I love.  Must all have a touch of raw umber in them. Never quite knew what to do with artist's acrylic paints. Hurray. I'll be learning from the best.
We collage quite differently.  ES tends to frame an images with paint or squares of fabric.  I tend to work with T-shapes or put an image between 'columns'. I add text, often hand color photos, use rubber stamps, stitch on bits of fabric or an image. Onward.
It is now late Monday morning. House is still very warm. The air conditioning repair man is here costing me money, but we'll soon be cool again. Later this afternoon, I am going to Wolfe Camera to have some Paris photos printed for these collages-to-be. I am not liking the clarity of the pictures we printed on my very old printer. So it goes. ES is painting away. I am off to Fiesta for ice cream and fruit. And then.




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