squiggles & dots

squiggles; next take
squiggles; next take

Here’s the next take on squiggles, this time painted with pigments mixed in watery hide glue instead of oil. The iron oxide red finish was done first, and left to dry. Then rubbed down a bit with steel wool. The black was brushed on after the red dried; the brush was loaded with paint, then much of it wiped off – so a very light touch, holding the brush just about 90-degrees to the surface. I’m not keen on the flat look to the red. Still hoping to hear more from the science people at MFA and Winterthur about this notion of  seventeenth-century paints being mixed in glue. Seems to me there has to be something then over it. We’ll see.  Meanwhile I am trying to do a lot of this work, to loosen up the motions when I paint…I want the final version to be confident. Here’s a test one today, this time pigments mixed in oil. A thin red wash over the whole thing, then more opaque in the background, and black squiggles and dots.

more practice painting
more practice painting

I have wanted to do some dots like those seen on the broken slat-back chair in this Judith Leyster painting, c. 1630s I think. I’m going to try to add them to the practice stool above.

detail, Judith Leyster
detail, Judith Leyster
Meanwhile, I looked out the window the other day, and there were first two, then three Great Egrets in the river. We often have Great Blue Herons, but very rarely Egrets. They are around here a lot, just not in our river…I didn’t dare go out to try to get a shot of them; they spook so easily. so this was out the window…
great egrets Jones River
great egrets Jones River
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4 thoughts on “squiggles & dots

  1. I am a German trained Joiner, and I am really glad you are digging into what was actually done on period pieces in real time instead of what the fuddy duddy wax it and forget it museum set says early modern and later medieval pieces were all about. Great stuff!!

  2. Very nice to see egrets in this neck of the woods. Last time I saw one was in the Florida Everglades. Unfortunately, that egret was being stalked by an small alligator. Turned out both were stalking a fish. The alligator got the fish. The egret flew away.

  3. I restored furniture for Vic Chinnery many years ago and one caned chair he brought me was ‘painted’ to simulate (European) Walnut.
    I experimented with the decorative finish which was exposed and friable in localised areas and after trying various solvents to soften some of the flakes, I found it simply dissolved in warm water. Suspecting it was animal glue, I let it go mouldy, however I couldn’t detect the rancid smell of normally associated with putrefying gelatine. Nonetheless, I determined it was indeed animal glue and proceeded to restore the chair using very dilute animal glue as a medium for the faux finish.
    The original decoration was protected by a thin film of oil-based varnish which was easy enough to replicate and tone.

  4. Thanks for the interest in the funny paint, folks. Kevin, this particular project is really a collaboration between me and two museums here in the US, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Both of these institutions are going to time, expense, etc to analyze the painted finishes on their related objects. Without their input, I would be nowhere…

    Robert, one of the objectives in this particular project is to show the museum’s visitors what the cupboard’s upper case looked like new, so I am lucky that I don’t have to match the patinated, old dirty finish. Thanks for your experience with the glue-as-vehicle though…I am surprised how easily the basic pigments have dissolved in the glue so far. I hope to do more with this soon.

    Gary, yes the egrets are a welcome sight. Like I said, I am used to them in the area, but not in our river. quite rare here for some reason…although great blues are frequently here, even croaking through the night.

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