The Old Masters, How Well They Understood . . .

Titian copy 6 Titian Copy 5

Titian Copy 4

(The most recent version is at the top.)

The Titian copy continues apace, albeit slowly. I just switched over to oils, since I finally needed to really get precise with the colors, and I can't seem to do it with the acrylic. I need to have unlimited mixing time to get a whole range of subtler hues laid out on the palette, and be able to smoodge them around over the course of a couple hours to find whatever peculiar color I'm looking for. The acrylic just dries too damn fast for that. Putting the oil over the acrylic seems fine, except for the difference in gloss:  the acrylic underlayer is all uniformly quite shiny (a little too shiny, actually, for my taste), and the oil paint patches are matte and dull in comparison. Either I need to mix more oil or medium into the oil paint, or figure out what the deal is with varnishing mixed media paintings, so as to obtain a uniform finish when it's all done. I wish I could combine all the best features of each medium into one perfect, Platonic paint. It would be non-toxic and use water was a diluent (acrylic), and you could have the option to have it dry right away (acrylic) or stay open and workable for several hours (oil), and it would dry the same color as it was wet (oil) for optimal color mixing/matching. Sigh.

I find it weirdly relaxing to work on this, perhaps because the parameters are clear:  I pretty much know what I have to do, and it's pleasant work to mix the colors and measure all the funny little shapes. I often work on it upside down, so that I'm more apt to transcribe what my eyes are actually seeing, in all its odd particularity, rather than what my brain thinks I'm seeing.

Some details:

Titian copy detail 1

Still all acrylic here.

Titian Copy detail 2

This detail is a little out of date; I've since started working on the nude with oils, and don't yet have a current photo.

Titian copy detail 3

I have started in with oil paint in this section. Somehow, working on that little patch of grasses was exhilarating.

Trying to negotiate the balance between getting certain things very precisely rendered and leaving other areas less pinned down, more abstract, letting the measuring marks assert their own primacy, was . . . really fun. Like a dance. Trying not to go too far and smother the open feeling (which I usually always do). And I love mucking about with all the subtle greeny variations. Afterwards, I came home and wrote this:

Feeling, for the first time in a long while, yesterday in the studio, thrilled to be painting:

I’ve been so busy feeling inadequate that I forgot to notice my competency, my own helping of talent, the excitement of my visions and their potential realization. I forgot that I love this. And that, goddamn it, I’m good at it.

Why does it seem easier to walk away than to believe in myself? The relentless pendulum of emotion.

I wonder all the time if I am a coward, why I don’t seem to have the same driving passion to paint regardless of the circumstances and consequences the way I imagine real artists do. Why I am not possessed enough. Too bourgeois. Wanting a house, nice things, security, comfort. And yet when I think about not painting, I feel myself suffocating. Sometimes painting is enough. And sometimes it isn’t.