My 36" x 48" wood panel arrived from Blick's and I'm too excited to begin preparing it for paint. I usually haul my own panels by squeezing it in to my car, but since Blick's is currently only working from online, I had no choice. Man, did they wrap it up well! I was literally breaking a sweat struggling to get it open.
As soon as I released the panel from its packaging, I laid it down on some supports (so it floats nicely off the ground and I can move about quickly).
To prime my canvas I use Gamblin Oil Painting Ground and thin it with a little bit of Gamblin Gamsol (Mineral spirits). I apply my first layer very thin, if you apply it too thick it will never dry!!!
It will take a full 24hrs to dry. But make sure it's all the way dry before applying the second thin layer.
Now, please take in mind that it will take 2-3 days for the second coat to fully dry.
*Tip: Set it outside in the sunlight to dry faster.
As the ground dries, unless i'm working on multiple projects, I utilize my time by digging deeper into my research.
I purchase journals and make sure I write down all my findings and possible techniques I can apply to enhance the painting. I'll even date and label them to reference for future paintings.
I know some of you find it easier to write on your laptops or keep notes on your phone...but something about physically writing something down helps me retain the information better.
I will even write down my thoughts and questions that I need to answer.
"Although this story takes place sometime in B.C., I want it to go beyond the bibles story of Jesus and the crucifixion. The meaning of this painting must have contemporary elements in it in order for our audience to relate whether they are religious or not. So who is our "Black" Jesus? What is he representing?"
The more questions I ask myself the more he will develop and appear to me when I find the answers.
Once the ground has dried, I take a fine grain sander and buff out any extreme unevenness. I do not like my surface to be extra smooth because I find texture gives my painting more character.
With my charcoal in hand I quickly sketch out the general positions of my subjects. the end result will look nothing like this because i'm not concentrating on the characters, just the negative spaces.
I call these my "Hollow" figures because they have yet to have a soul in them. Now, in the past I usually never did this, but there will be gold leaf in this painting so I like to gild first before I paint.
Letting it Marinate
After I create my first initial placement, I stare at it for a few days. Literally staring at it. I'll drink my coffee, eat my lunch, talk on the phone, and type on my laptop (like i'm doing know) all while staring at it. I do this in order to really be satisfied on where I want to place my gold leaf. More subjects can be added and/or objects but the basic composition has to be unchanged.
My thought process.
Although Jesus, or anyone else being crucified, would have been stripped before they were whipped and nailed up. I chose (like many other artists) to use my creative license and have him covered. However, to add movement and drama, i'm going to have the Roman soldier ripping off his clothes as he is on the cross.
Even though it is a brutal scene, the beauty and color will come from the fabrics and it will break up large dark spaces (just like Caravaggio).
All in all the composition has to be harmonious. There has to be beauty and strength in not only Jesus but the entire painting...because we, as humans, thrive off of hope.
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”– William Ellery Channing