Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Portrait of Robert Stone - Using Arches Oil Paper

Robert Stone died Saturday. He was a talented American writer who specialized in writing intelligent thrillers. He was 78. Stone was probably best known for his novel Dog Soldiers, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1975. Three years later it was made into a movie starring Nick Nolte (Who'll Stop the Rain?")

What I liked most about his books were the descriptive characters and settings. When you read one of his stories you feel like you know the people and you have actually visited the places. THAT'S good writing. He wasn't formally trained, but instead took writing workshops and learned by "doing". His books were authentic because he lived an adventurous and uncommon life. Although fortune wasn't always kind to him, he rose above that and became a self-made man, another quality I admire.

How many people today could get to where he did after being given up to an orphanage at the age of six by a schizophrenic mother and absent father? Kicked out of high school, he joined the Navy at 17 and traveled the world.

I am going to France in June and I want to take a light weight painting support so I decided to try out some oil paper made by Arches. This 300 It comes in a pad and is called I think Jerry's sent this to me in my last order as a freebie. I knew in advance that it would be absorbent, because I have used primed watercolor paper before as a support for oils. So I combined some walnut oil and Liquin and coated the paper with it, hoping this would give the paper a bit of "slip". It seemed to work pretty well. Next time I'll try just linseed oil if I can get the lid off my jar. Last time I checked it was pretty well glued tight.

I limited my palette to ivory black, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson and titanium white. It's pretty close to the Zorn palette, meaning I omitted blue. I did add just a bit of the Alizarin crimson in some mixtures.

There weren't too many good pictures of Stone. In every photo his eyes seemed to be too open and aware. Maybe he was just one of those people who could not relax when their picture was being taken and their eyes bug out. I have been guilty of it myself. I tried to change that in my painting, by darkening the whites and lowering his lids slightly.

I'm including the underpainting I did in about ten minutes so you can see the way the paint adheres to this support. I tried to wipe out some paint for highlights and it doesn't work as well as wiping on canvas or linen. You can't get the white back again. Something to keep in mind for the future.

I can't complain about this product. I thought it performed well as a support for alla prima panting and I didn't feel like I was fighting to keep it wet. I think the absorbency will be a bonus when I travel with it as the paintings will dry faster and I can stack them for easy transport in my bag.

9"x 12"

Robert Stone
(August 21, 1937 – January 10, 2015)

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