By dint of staying up until the small hours of the morning again, and painting in a convulsive frenzy for seven or eight hours straight, I got the background of the second run at this painting mostly done.
I am somewhat pleased at the misty effects I’ve gotten in acrylic, mostly by layering and smearing washes around with bits of paper towel. This is a good thing. It’d be even better if I hadn’t been an idiot and primed the whole thing with a medium blue-grey, which is a technique lots of wildlife painters use and often works wonderfully, and there was no damn reason to do it on this piece at all, and I’ve been fighting with it the whole way.
Some days I think that the image of artists as wild-eyed and zany and impulsive wouldn’t last five minutes if people spreading this image knew how many paintings must be done in a particular, obsessive order. Lay base color, glaze. You can mix light into dark, but not dark into light, or it turns to mud.* Oil over acrylic, never the other way around. Layer the glazes, one over the other, and if one spot wasn’t dry and you end up taking off the layer of glaze you’d laid down before…well, crud.
I’m really bad at this sort of meticulousness. My brain is not tidy enough. I see a spot that I need to fix, and I want it fixed NOWNOWNOWNOWNOW! I want to paint it the color it SHOULD be, not swipe it with gesso and then lay sixteen washes to get the perfect shade of umbery-sienna-with-purple on it over the course of three hours.
And indeed, with digital art I can do all these things, without fuss, without muss. And yet, I still find myself back in the studio, expending anguish and brain cells on physical art. Partly for the money, I admit–original sales make up a tidy bit of my income–but partly for the same reason I took ceramics all those years, because I’m bad at it, and it infuriates me. (It would probably not infuriate me quite so much if other people on earth weren’t so blasted GOOD at it. I am a small and petty person in this regard, yes–but not, I think, alone.)
But hopefully this painting will come out. Along the way, the concept has changed. I like the betta in the little air suit with water tanks, he’s a bold little explorer (and with their immense air tolerance, a natural to explore the surface-world–wild bettas have been found living comfortable in the puddle left by the imprint of a horse’s hoof, and in t’olden days, were often shipped merely wrapped in a wet paper towel) but he is a bold little explorer who will need to explore another painting. The grief this painting has given me has changed it in my brain–there’s a spot begging for the outline of a gear, and what had been a bit of surrealism has become a wildlife portrait of sorts.
Well. It’ll come out or it won’t, and I won’t find out unless I go paint on it.
*This is part of my problem with oils.