Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Transferring a drawing, rain, and some photos

As I said yesterday, I need a whole lot more foreground and air around the tree that I started the painting of yesterday. Shoehorning the thing onto a 9 by 12 really threw me. So I am going to take another panel and give myself more room. Here's how.This will be real basic for some of you, but others out there have never seen this, and I want to show the simple technique for transferring a drawing.

First, I taped tracing paper from a roll, over the panel from yesterday. I then pulled a tracing from the painting below, just the major lines are enough.

I run my soft pencil around the edge of the panel to mark that, and then I tape the tracing paper into the middle of a larger panel. I use artists transfer paper,that's important. Unlike carbon paper (does anyone still use that stuff, now that no one types? ) transfer paper has no wax in it. Painting over anything containing wax can be a problem, particularly in water media. Here is the transfer paper, it comes in a number of different colors, but I only stock two kinds, black for working on white grounds, and yellow for transferring to dark grounds.

I slip a partial sheet of transfer paper between my tracing and the panel. I go over the lines again with my ebony pencil and then I have this.

Then I drove up to Laconia, about an hour north and set up again in front of my tree. This time I have plenty of room around the tree to add whatever amount of the surroundings I want. There is a pond with deep black water and lilly pads and colored leaves floating in it, and there are cattails across the foreground, I know I want those. I also want more air around that tree so I will paint out from it a ways, and then crop to what I want to keep. I do need the cropped image to be 3 by 4 in proportion though.

As soon as I set up and went to work it began to rain heavily, so I packed the whole kit up and left. On my way home I seemed to drive out of the rain, so I took the exit for Canterbury village, an old Shaker farm that has been preserved. I know it has stone walls and good trees. I am trying to build up my photo collection of these. Although I don't usually work from photos, autumn color is short and I intend to rearrange them a lot when I make the paintings. I want to make some tonalist earth colored studio pieces. Here are a couple of the pictures I took.

This one below, is looking along an old Shaker wall with one of their communal fields on the left. I guess this tree is old enough to have been there in those days.I like to take pictures in the last hour of light, even on a gray day I get the look I want. Lately when I have been out painting, I make a point upon packing up, of getting out my camera and walking around to take some pictures.

I was feeling so BLESSED to be in New England today. I don't often throw that word around, but I don't know any other way to describe how perfect the back roads of New Hampshire are in the autumn as the light fails.


Gregory Becker said...

That's a good transfer method. I think I still have an old piece of transfer paper around here somewhere. I transfered a drawing to a panel, then I repenciled it, then I inked it and did an imprimatura layere and I haven't touched it since. I did however become very well aquainted with my subject through that little experience, simply because I drew it so many times.I should go back to it.

willek said...

The other day we painted a view of Boston from a height in East Boston, loooking south. It was a super clear, bright sunny day with one or two cottonballs on an intense blue sky. We commented on the blue and took a lot of pictures. Painted all afternoon and left for home. The results were not great. After viewing the pictures, I realized I had missed all that blue. The blue bathed all the close things too. I have been painting outside a long time and have not noticed this. The camera got it, though, and after I changed the thing and corrected my drawing, it looks a lot better. The problem is how to make the day look bright with all that blue and how to make things recede with all that blue in the foreground. It was a situation with washed out greens and aquas creeping in from the distance kind of breaking our rules of aerial perspective. Do you go with the blue in a situation like this or do you reinterpret the scene to get the aerial perspective you need? said...

Thanks again. I have been thinking life would be easier with transfer paper..I've mostly been just drawing again from scratch..sometimes it's better, sometimes it's tedious. I do want to get on to the business of painting.Transfer paper here I come!

I kept my skyline from E. B. atmospherically blue/violet...a straight shot across the harbor. Will chose something more intricate with a neighborhood home in the foreground. His sky line was distinct but way in the background haze.

Unknown said...

Bummer about the rain, but it looks like you got the consolation prize of some great photos.

By the way, have you ever done a burnt umber transfer? You paint over the back of the paper and then trace that over the new canvas. I can't figure out if I like that or the pencil and transfer paper method more. Thoughts?

barbara b. land of boz said...

Thank you Stapleton for sharing. You truly are blessed. Not only as an artist--but as a person who is not afraid to say what he thinks. I envy your color changes in New England. Here in Oklahoma we have only just begun to show a few colors. I can barely wait!
I was turned on to your blog by FASO. I love your art history posts. barbara, "Land of Boz"

Stapleton Kearns said...

I like old timey things like transfer paper.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wouldn't know the answer to that unless I was standing there. I know I am more interested in value than color,

Stapleton Kearns said...

Don't count on it. My life hasn't been easy and I have had transfer paper all along.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have never done the burnt umber method, although I have seen it done. You keep trying to sneak that burnt umber back in here don't you.

Stapleton Kearns said...


Thanks.I suppose I have been out spoken,however 90% of what I say would have been common opinion among artists in the 1920's or so. They are ordinary enough ideas in the world of traditional painters in New England. Where I have differed is that I am willing to write them down in a publicly accessible form.

Philip Koch said...

Just back from Mt. Desert Island in Maine and boy did we ever see some fall color! The last time I was up there was June of last year and everything was so much more beautiful this time- late September has the sun lower in the sky and much longer cast shadows. Everything just has more volume and poetry to it. I am lucky to be able to get up to New England as often as I do.

willek said...

Sory to beat a dead horse, Stape. But your mention of using photos for reference got me started on this. I spent the day looking for a photo image from two years ago and finally found it after looking at thousands of images. In the process I noticed that thisphenomenon seemed more promenant when looking towards the sun. I think it is because the sun's glare washes over everything and we are also looking at the shadow side of every big and microscopic thing that is so influenced by the bluest sky behidn and above us. Maybe