Potato Picker 1 – watercolor on Bainbridge Alpharag Board

I came across this painting tonight. Its in my leather portfolio case. It was framed and hung on my studio wall in a previous location. It hung there for years and years. The frame was a metal frame, the color of her apron. During all the many moves in my life, the frame got scratched. It was a custom size and would be expensive to replace. It wasn’t in inches. It was in centimeters. When we were stationed in Germany, I found the photo of two women, potato pickers, from right there in my village. I wrote to the photographer and got his permission to paint from the photo. I decided I would put each of the two women in their own painting.

The painting above is, by far, my favorite. I can’t part with it. It isn’t just a painting. Its an experience. The board I painted it on had a thin coat of something (sizing, I imagine) on it that caused the pigment to lay on the surface and dry, looking rich and alive. It was an experiment and something told me it would be amazing. I took photos of each step of the way. Painting it was almost a sensual experience. The brush laid the paint down as if it couldn’t help it; as if compelled to create a masterpiece. I’d say it was even as if the painting was already done and the board and brush and paint knew what it was to become and they performed a symphony of color, shadow, and light. Every brush stroke went down as if it was already there and the brush was just painting water over it to bring it to life. I’ve never experienced anything like it again. It was my only piece of board like that. I don’t know if its even made anymore.

mi teintes paper

I say all this because I have found an art board made by mi teintes. I have used papers by the same company. The example is one I did on a gray mi teintes paper. When I went to the store to purchase some black art board, I saw the white art board that is made to take watercolor. I’m excited to try it. One piece was approximately $6 and when the cashier handled it, I was so afraid she’d get oils from her fingers on it. She didn’t realize the significance of that. Do you?

I long to try it out. Not yet, however. I have three commissions to finish before Christmas. If I were to sit down and just get them done, it wouldn’t take long. They happen to be quite difficult. Three pieces, each containing numerous people. The pressure is on. I find myself working for a few minutes on the faces and needing to leap up from my chair and pace. I suddenly feel the urge to wash dishes or sweep the floor. Anything. I long to do anything at all, except work on that face.

Something to look forward to

When the three commissions are completed, I’ll get out the white watercolor board and see what I can come up with. Maybe by then I’ll have some idea what the subject needs to be. Is it like a carving, where the whole process is just releasing the thing trapped within the wood? Or like the painting of the the woman picking potatoes? I don’t know.