Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"The Turban Guy"

A serial subject who's face s getting around a bit lately thanks to our pal David Lobenberg.
I have "feelings" for this one as my dear old mate the Blue Lake Blotch returned again after some months in absence.
I know this makes little sense to most. It relates to the odd blotchy texture that is in evidence in this painting.
This Australian made paper has, or should I say had a very desirable velvety and luxurious quality.
Somewhere in the making process the paper became vulnerable to uneven absorption and the result is a random blotchiness which when doing a delicate subject is enough to break your heart. I've spent many hours getting a good likeness in a portrait only to watch a child's face turn into something resembling a leprosy ridden camels ass after a couple of light washes of raw sienna. Or a light cobalt blue summers sky into an abstract version of The Battle of Britain.
I have stayed with Blue Lake and been in close liaison with the maker over the last 5 years to try to overcome the problem which has been happening for about 3 years on and off .
Sometimes we get great results, and lately although somewhat hard and brittle has been blotch free. Having this happen again is very disappointing. Too unpredictable to trust with larger important watercolours.
I think I've just about come to the end of the road with it.
Sorry Maurice! The more recent productions looked and felt tough and durable, yet are still proving to be as fragile as a moths wing if this is anything to go by.
Will do another of this on faithful old Arches 300gsm  rough.
Anyone want to buy 15 sheets of unopened Blue Lake?
On second thoughts it'll be fine for oil painting after a couple of coats of gesso.
Apologies for the rave, just had to get it out...!


Blogger Nick said...

Heheh, the last turbanned portraits I remember were by an "artist" who couldn't finish the other half of a face. I'm sure you'll recall. It is a subject that interests me, going back to Sargent's bedouins. You've been struggling with that paper for a long time, it seems they owe you a mountain of it (the good batch) for all the positive publicity you have tried to generate. The sheet you sent me literally cemented itself overnight to a piece of plexiglass, and had to be dynamited off. Wonderful velvety texture, tricky to work with.

March 4, 2009 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger David Burge said...

Heck yeah! How could I forget old 1/2 faced Annie?...but i did..till now :-o
Yes, Sargent's Bedouins are yet to be bettered as far as I can tell. They're not a subject I'd normally consider painting either.
The front-on reference and pretty flat lighting don't make for a many abstract natural shapes on this one.
Might have to invent some I guess.

Re the Blue Lake; I've been very loyal and have been previously compensated by Maurice who is a genuinely good bloke.
I doubt It'll continue to be my
1st choice..although I acknowledge that you might have heard that before too.
I Still have quite a lot of it in stock but will use it for a less fluid medium I think.

March 4, 2009 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger wayne said...

Hi David,
Your watercolour portrait of this guy is quite outstanding imo! As you note in your comment above (to Nick) yes i too 've found that front-on flat lighting of a face is very hard to render in traditional transparent watercolour! Yet you have succeeded brilliantly here imo, and created confident sculptural crisply-articulated shapes where the facial form/structure is only barely suggested in the ref photo!
...Awesome watercolour portrait David!!
best wishes,

March 16, 2009 at 3:42 PM  

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