Variation in work

May 16, 2008

Moving between two projects today, I experienced very clearly the diversity of the work I do.  These two were a particularly strong contrast and drew on different skills and attitudes.

The first was an underpainting I did as preparation for a study of one of Jeroen Krabbé’s oil paintings.

I chose this painting basically because I love it and also wanted the experience of working with the warm reds he used. Ironic that what I could see through the surface strokes was a blue underpainting; although painters often use the complement or one close to it to provide contrast for the top layer. I pulled out my old oils and the minute I filled up the brush and started working I realized how much I love this medium. It is so creamy and sensual, the colors are so rich. In contrast to this aliveness, acrylic feels like plastic. Which it is. I enjoyed the freedom of brushing on the color with a large brush and being a little messy.

Still with acrylics you can work in layers quickly since it dries so fast, now I have to have patience before I can go on.

The afternoon I spent rounding off a monogram I had designed and hand lettered.

I tried unsuccessfully to upload the grey scale version here so all the touch-ups could be seen. Anyway, this was drawn freehand, quite large (around A-4, 81/2 x 11 format) with pen and India ink then retouched with white gouache. No computer work on this whatsoever. Cross my heart…
It is extremely exacting work, drives me nuts actually. Still the result is nice and it will be used on a gold signet ring.

If you want to see a real wizard when it comes to flourishing, and someone who manages to lift  letter decoration out of stuffy tradition right into super kewl, go to Marian Bantjes .


7 Responses to “Variation in work”

  1. Jim Moran Says:

    Hello Sarah,

    I’ve been enjoying your blog postings for months now and finally have gotten the courage to write. I think what inspired me was seeing your beautiful script lettering, which I have experimented with myself in the past. Currently, I am living in California, but I do recall Arnold telling me, long ago: ‘It’s called ROUNDhand, not SHAKEYhand!” Maybe you had similar experiences with him. But I want you to know that I still admire your work and would like to see even more. I have my own small collection of Linda M. memorabilia which I occasionally pull out just for inspiration. Kudos to you and your wonderful art!
    Jim (still with Jeanie after 33 years)

  2. szoutewelle Says:

    Jim, what a pleasure to hear from you!
    I don’t remember if I learned script from Arnold. I seem to remember that it was slightly frowned upon by Real Calligraphers in our era. I used the Tommy Thompson book and actually learned the most from an old Pgh. ad man, Jim MacFarland. I still have some of his samples on tracing paper, yellowing from the rubber cement on the back, that simply sing.
    I’ve responded privately to you, it is so nice to hear from you.

  3. szoutewelle Says:

    ps. I was inspired for the monogram shown above, so much by Tom Carnase’s script. I remember travelling to NY and showing up at Herb Lubalin’s agency and spending a wonderful hour with Carnase while he totally sidestepped my hero worship and claimed that he admired my calligraphy more than his hyper retouched stuff because it was more spontaneous. Yeah right. He has remained a hero of mine and I have kept all his gorgeous samples he so generously gave me more than 30 years ago. Wonder where and how he is now.

  4. Claudia Says:

    I am very inspired to read your love for oil color. I have just about given up on it and now I wonder if I was too hasty. I might try again. You are right it needs more patience than Acrylic because of the drying time but I also find the texture more satisfying. I just haven’t painted very often with it and so it seems a little awkward to wait for it to dry or else smear etc. Thanks for the inspiration. I really admire your blog, wonderfully written, interesting themes, keep going! I also like Jeroen Krabbé color sense and have never heard of him. Isn’t it amazing how we get our juices flowing just by seeing something that enlivens us.
    All the best

  5. szoutewelle Says:

    Hi Claudia,
    thanks for your kind words.
    I am in the same position as you with oil, I haven’t used it much. At the moment I am working from a ‘How to Paint in Oils book’, which is good because it encourages a looser approach than I and other beginners usually have. I do, find though, that it really is messy, and a lot of trouble to keep cleaning the brushes in turpentine. I am not sure if I’m that dedicated. We’ll see.
    love and happy painting, Sarah

  6. Claudia Says:

    I had good results with just wiping the brushe off really well and then washing them with soap, I didn’t like the turpentine much. I used it very sparingly also while painting maybe thats why it got so messy because it took ages to dry of curse. Will check out the book, who is the author? Also because it is to be used opaque apparently, I get frustrated because I like it to paint transparent. Was thinking of trying egg tempera again, which is the opposite, it has to be treated very cleanly or else it spoils before it hits the canvas. So much to explore, so little time…

  7. szoutewelle Says:

    Thanks Claudia. There is also a vegetable oil cleaner that works well, I will buy it.
    Oh, I thought I mentioned the author, sorry, it is Stan Smith. Many of his examples are quite transparent, using oils thinned with turps.

    They have egg tempera in tubes now, at least here in Holland.

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