Tad Spurgeon oil paintings


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      A Sunday look at process and product.

september 15

      Summer still slowly winding down, a lot of memories in this time of year from being a kid around here, going back to school. Some mornings and evenings with that magical temperature that's not hot or cold. Got my electric bill, was absurdly happy to see that my window-blocking with sheets of cardboard on the hottest days of last month made the bill a full third lower. I mean, there's so much going on that I can't understand, but I can understand a lower electric bill. Week of the full moon, it was late Friday night, kind of an itchy or antsy one for me. Not the usual full steam ahead week either, kind of weighty, as though some dark entity were lurking just offstage, about to make an entrance. Various tense inner planet transits to Neptune this week, often felt both spacious and confused, an odd combination. Last year it often seemed like the old me was dissolving to make way for a new me, that feeling returned this week. There is not a lot of old me left at this point, it is interesting to see the ways it tries to reassert itself. This then means pausing to ask what really wants to happen. Is this the "old me" or the "new me" talking? Who am "I" and what do "I" really want? This spacious but confused quality was reflected in the work, I liked what happened with the colour, a great deal actually, and with incorporating last week's changes into the style that developed over the summer, but the work also seemed to be searching for it's new self. It's interesting to slowly get into more and more levels of "whatever happens happens for a reason." It's like the Russian dolls, only the one inside is larger than the one outside.


      Great graphic from a recent paper very kindly extracted by my friend Roland; summary of a complicated process. Research is in the process of zeroing in on the role of metal soaps in causing paint film degradation over long periods of time. This particular paper is more abstract science than technical art history, and proposes a complex mathematical model for this process. This includes large equations full of swooshes and hieroglyphics, and may cause some panic among painters by implying that this process is both universal and inevitable. But this has not been proven. What about when the pigment does not saponify, what is the model for that? Most importantly, this paper does not refer to the soaps of specific pigments, but simply to metal soaps in general, which limits its practical value for painters. Their example pigment is of course lead white, the angel and devil of old painting conservation. We know that older lead white can become saponified over time, but also that this is not always the case. We know that modern lead white is a very different pigment: made by a different process, with a different composition that makes it, in fact, relatively difficult to saponify. This type of detail is important to painters, but not to the development of a mathematical model. I'm not being critical of this paper, of course! But painting does not work on theory, it works on practice. And, in practice, this subject is incredibly complex, since the behavior of each metallic soap is going to be different in the context of every combination of oil pH, level of atmospheric humidity, and canvas movement over time. So, what we need is more specific information about the metals involved. We have learned that zinc white is too reactive, although it took a century and a half. What about cadmium, or cobalt? What about, most importantly, iron? It seems probable that iron is less subject to saponification. Does it actually stabilize the paint film in some way? Are the bright modern pigments -- being organic, not metallic -- outside this equation entirely? It will all get investigated bit by bit.

      Another recent subject Roland has sent information on is the water-solubility of 20th century paint films. Since water is usually the first thing a conservator uses to clean a paint film, this became noticed in a hurry. It turns out that this is a function of large amounts of magnesium carbonate being in the paint film, and that this was a feature of the student grade paint formulation of Windsor and Newton in the 20th century. Over time, the magnesium carbonate is transformed into epsomite, and this is water-soluble. This body of research has also investigated kaolin, and found that it induces delamination when used in a ground: though this is implied in technical art history by the fact that Van Dyck's use of kaolin in the ground of The Great Peece quickly caused delamination. Anyway, there are lots of stone dusts, but calcium carbonate and silica seem to be the only safe ones over time.


      The current paintings have a medium that's a damar-beeswax variation. They also have a putty that gets used to an extent with darker colours. This putty has to be simple, on the lean side, and I want it to be kind of dense and bouncy. The formula has been getting better each time I make a new tube of it. This week I added a little bit of fumed silica and some older thick hand-refined linseed oil, both of which tend, for different physical reasons, to make the putty more thixotropic. It was really interesting to see how different "new" was from "old" in this case, an example of how a system develops itself over time in ways that are unforeseeable in the beginning. So, a pleasant surprise rheologically in terms of how the changes added up, will see how it operates in the week to come.


      First one this week. A few small technical changes, but the system is very sensitive to these. Wanted to work with what I'd learned last week but get back to a more spacious feeling. I liked the colour but was a little confused by how the pieces worked in space. Still on its way somewhere new. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Second one this week. This felt like an evolution in some ways, a retreat in others. Had difficulty completing it the first day, but did so the next morning. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      A return to what intrigued me about the first one, with more variety or invention than usual. Again had to finish it the next day. It's not possible to plan what is going to go where, so some parts will end up working better than others. But overall it has an engaging solidity in life. Have not done one at this level of complexity, so there are some things I just didn't see. For example, it now seems that it might be "better" if the green middle element on the left side echoed the orange-blue layered element of the upper right corner. So, not so much a criticism as something to keep in mind in the future. The overall vocabulary or set of available options is getting larger, and that seems like the most important thing. This feels like a new level opening up in terms of the colours having different levels in space, but it may take a while to consolidate things here. Part of me would like to understand how this works, would this involve complex equations with impressive swooshes and hieroglyphics? But another part of me thinks that would make it much less fun. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Life with Lily.

september 8

      Summer beginning to wind down, only used a little ac this week, some really nice cool mornings and nights. First week of the moon, it kind of snuck up on me, but turned out to really want something new; began to feel like I'd been shot from one of those cannons in the circus. Which is fine, there's always a reason, and a net at the end. So, after a pretty stable summer of developing a specific approach bit by bit, a sudden detonation: the puzzle that was close to finished is now in thousands of pieces again all over the cardtable. Making it an excellent week to learn more about not judging the process! An ongoing sense of confusion, even malaise from time to time, during the week: the inner planets are in Virgo going opposite Neptune in Pisces one by one. The last one to do this will be Mars, the full moon on the 13th has the Moon conjunct Neptune opposite Sun conjunct Mars: I will not be hiding under the bed, but this day that may feature some bellicose, high profile strangeness in terms of deception being revealed and concealed.


      Stumbled on some information in early August about how yerba mate has more anti-oxidants in it than green tea, and that the overall nutritional profile contributes to the caffeine it contains having much less of a downside. This sounded good enough to investigate more, and many people had positive things to say about it online as a tea or coffee alternative. There is of course a huge culture of mate in some parts of South America, and I had tried a roasted version eons ago when it first showed up in America. Looked around for which one to try, ended up getting an organic green (unroasted) one sourced from Argentina by Eccoteas, unsmoked (the traditional way to dry the leaves) and without stems (sin palo). It turns out without stems means a more intense flavor, which was good. Made lots of cold-brewed tea overnight with it in August and really enjoyed it: it was nice and bitter up front, then very smooth and refreshing. It has a particular smell which I encounter every now and then in a more verdant area of the neighborhood. Although they all seem to come from the same tree, a species of holly, there are lots of different variations of mate, with different flavor profiles, as well as different ways to brew it. I recently tried another one, Guayaki, the ubiquitous health store brand that they carry at the co-op. Guayaki is milder, con palo, and feels a little insipid compared to the one from Eccoteas, though I think most people would like it better. The most interesting thing relative to tea is that mate is definitely about more than caffeine, it creates oomph more gently, with a sense of positivity or benificence as well. Like gotu kola, the Hindu meditation herb, it is nootropic, affecting the way the brain functions. Well, everyone's experience with these plants is going to be different, but, given that the tea I ended up liking most was black, really expensive, and clearly not that great for my mood in more than very small amounts, this has been an interesting development.


      First one of the week, also first one at the larger scale this time around, a lot of energy flying around still from the new moon. It was fun to do this, and I like feeling of the the color, but the more blunt aspects of the execution I'm not sure about. It's like, what happened naturally before didn't happen in this one, a classic new moon situation. But I didn't know that at the time, this particular well that had been full all summer, I expected it to keep on being full. About 13.5x15 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Next, dropped back to the smaller scale. Kept the same palette, but, in a different way, this one seemed to also miss. Liked the color, and thought of several ways to modify it the next day. But when the time came just let it go, seemed like it was more important to move on. It still hadn't occurred to me that the old way of making these wasn't going to work anymore. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      The second one seemed too chaotic. Or too complicated. Or something. I didn't exactly judge it, but didn't at that point accept that it was simply a door to another room beginning to open up. So I thought I'd organize things more by making a drawing, did this in graphite at the larger scale. This made me feel better -- being more organized usually does, but all those planets in Virgo didn't hurt -- and got as far as transferring it to a piece of gessoed paper before it seemed all wrong. Which was interesting. So, then tried to organize things a different way by making a set of marker studies, variations on one that I liked. These were more fun, the markers feel kind of goofy but I'm learning what they do bit by bit. But it probably would have been better to just do something altogether new, rather than basing the process on something extant.


      The third one, larger scale. I started out following the model, got sort of hypnotized, then broke away from that approach when it began to seem ridiculous. Always a good idea! At that point some interesting things happened, but the painting was already committed to a lot of things I didn't like too much. Decided to just let it rest overnight, thought I'd work on it the next morning, but at that point felt that it was too much of a push me-pull you situation. Still, if the bright red-yellow element is removed, and the Klimty spray at the top is calmed down, this is an interesting set of colors to develop. So, this week helped me realize -- over and over, in fact -- is that, no matter, what happens, it contributes to the process. Before I would have said that the simplest thing is to just let what wants to happen happen, but this week there really wasn't a choice. Now, for someone who, in spite of theoretically knowing better, has always judged the process, thinking that would make it better, even though it never did, this is a pretty big step. About 13.5x15 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Next, it occurred to me that the problem might be trying to organize it at all: why not let it organize itself? So made the fourth one without a specific compositional idea first; just blocked it some large shapes in simple color and added smaller shapes over that. This was sort of refreshing, but I quickly realized that the "non-composition" of the first shapes needed to be done with more awareness of what could, and could not, go on top of them. Stopped at a place that felt underdone in a way, but it also seemed that the answer was more awareness in the beginning. At least I was finally not trying to do the old thing, but was letting something new happen. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      So, for this one, began with six colors in blocks underneath. Can see now that the original lines would have been better with more curves: the organized -- or locked -- quality of the blocks began to dictate too many terms about what happened next. The pattern of the original colors needs to take the value of the color itself more into account. Well, there are ways that this can be modified before the second layer of smaller pieces starts, but the first layer is again where the most adjustment needs to occur for this approach to work out. This crazy quilt thing happens now and then, but always seems too busy and planar. So not sure this is an overall approach to develop, so much as one that contains a new tool to use for something that hasn't happened yet. An attractive glow, a few nice moments in color that is not quite as simple as it presents itself to be. Still not exactly resolved as a next step, but this week didn't exactly care about that! So, a week of holding on during a new moon with an unusually strong agenda. Still in transit, but should know more by the full moon at the end of next week. About 9.25x10.25 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      Did laundry yesterday and Lily was in the bedroom when I came in with a finished load. Had already decided to convert one of the older towels into a lilypad, folded this on the middle shelf of her bookcase while it was still warm and she hopped right up on it and took a nap. Always a nice feeling. Not everything I try works, though: had a spare pillow and put that under the covers at the end of the bed for her, but she ignored it. Her sleeping area doesn't have to be padded, though. She disappeared the other night and I found her sleeping on a big flat cardboard box under a table in the studio, one that a quire of Tiepolo had arrived in. She'll get into a pattern for a while, which becomes a tradition, even a hallowed tradition. And some of these don't change, like having to beat me to the top of the stairs. But with sleeping places, the pattern gets shifted by something and she develops a new pattern. The same with when she goes in and out, when she eats, how much. This has been changing all week because of the weather getting cooler, and I've gotten kind of confused a few times about what she wants. She just looks at me like, I know, but see, it's this way now.

september 1

      More like summer again but not as hot or humid, some signs of fall beginning: the smell of baked leaves, goldfinches diving in and out after the echinacea seeds in the front gardens. Last quarter of the moon, this is typically the most iffy week for the work, but still felt somewhat wound up, excited by what had already happened, and decided to see what would happen if I just showed up anyway. With mixed results. Hard not to want to improve relentlessly, but there's less ability to bob and weave and invent after the full moon, and by the last quarter it's pretty scarce. I really like being surprised by what happens, and this athleticism, so to speak, in terms of synthesizing opposites is crucial to generating something new. The new thing then ripples out and expands the whole vocabulary. But the process is not about massive effort, heroic gnashing of teeth, lashed to the rudder in the storm. I have to show up, but otherwise it just happens through the quality of energy that's available at the time. Conversely, this week, even the better ones feel a little less than earlier in the month. But there's always something to be said for learning, at a mercifully small scale, what to avoid. In larger terms, it's all valuable, but nose to grindstone on a daily basis, it's easy to drift past discernment and get judgemental. Didn't do too badly with this, though: was given plenty of opportunities but left most of them alone. Having let go of the endless revolving door of consensus "reality" over the last few years with only positive consequences, am feeling more and more interested in an even keel here, slow and steady: let it happen, but then let go of it. Yes, there is a infinite creative adventure to explore, but each step can only be examined clearly later, everything I "think" just after making it is useless. This approach works much better than obsessing about it, but that hasn't been an easy one for me to learn. It makes sense that the most important lessons occur where we have the least perspective, where things "just happen" and we don't know why. How to get more light of awareness into the unconscious darkness? The new moon arrived early Friday morning with a great deal of oomph, haven't felt so shaken up on a new moon day in a long time, made something relatively zany but it was fun to be more direct. Something new definitely wants to happen. This week I'll find out more about what it is. So, probably won't work quite as far into the waning moon again anytime soon; lesson learned there. But overall, certainly the most functional August ever for the work.


      Schumann Resonance graph of the last few days. Onward, deeper and deeper into the Photon Belt, hurtled the plucky planet and with its massive cargo of somnambulant humans, wishing this very high frequency energy would go away so they could watch Gilligan's Island in peace.


      Made an experiment with an egg emulsion paint: one part each methyl cellulose size, egg yolk, walnut oil, and beeswax emulsified with a small amount of sodium sesquicarbonate. I liked the feel of the paint but didn't like how it layered, felt it would be better to work with plain egg tempera, or at least without the oil. Sometimes an experiment suggests a new direction, sometimes it confirms the direction you're already going.


      This one started with a compositional drawing based on several small drawings, and looked good at that point. But it felt a little stiff, or static, when I finished it, I think because the original idea didn't get modified the usual amount during the process. Waning moon, I didn't have the same sense of resourcefulness in terms of what could be changed. Still, I like the sense of space that is flat on the one hand, and zooming off in different planes on the other. Primary colour, but kind of edgy somehow, that's also interesting. But, the scale is a little small for the details, want to get these bigger as soon as it feels right. About 9.5x11 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Decided to try a more sedate composition but went too far, or maybe got kind of hypnotized following an idea to a logical but dumb conclusion. Fiddled with the elements in interesting ways but the elements themselves -- most especially the space itself -- need to be more dynamic, less predictable. The left side is better than the right side, the upper left quadrant is static but otherwise kind of nice. Maybe do another one at some point based on what I learned from this one. This one annoys me so much its kind of exciting. About 8.5x9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      This one went through a lot and had a few interesting moments. I'll revisit this colour scheme, learned something useful there, but overall it feels unresolved, even awkward, and also suffers from waning moon syndrome in terms of doing what I feel should work but without the internal oomph that makes it work. Still, one that doesn't work offers a lesson in something specific to avoid. In this case too many things to mention! About 8.5x9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Day of the new moon. Got up early, spent most of the morning kind of paralyzed by how new everything was, or had to be. Not unpleasant, or a surprise, but there hasn't been a new moon with this much oomph in a while, had to remind myself that sometimes it's best to just wait for a while, not force anything. Made this later in the morning, it was fun if relatively out of control but brought it somewhat together towards the end. More paint and evidence than usual, will see how it dries. Some aspects of the colour I like, wonder what other qualities of this one will continue into the process. About 8.5x9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Had a round pedestal table in the basement that I'd rescued from the trash, they had tried to refinish the top and given up. It's solid mahogany, early 20th century commercial, I cleaned it up a little and put linseed oil on it, it looked very nice. Was a little stumped about what to do with it, then realized it would be a great lilypad, so set it up in the bedroom with some cushioning and an old tablecloth on top. She gets to it via one of the middle shelves on her bookcase. At first she ignored it, but then after a day she started sleeping on it, which was very fun. Always a disproportionate sense of accomplishment when something works for the cat, she even used the pillow! Lily had a quiet few days at the end of the moon, spending more time inside, but is now going back out early in the morning again. Low light photo, her relaxed post-nap face, softer and more round.

august 25

      One more round of intenser heat and humidity this week, it was deceptive, the highs weren't that high, but it was pretty impressive to be out in: Lily slept during the day and went out at night, I ended up shutting out the sun with sheets of paper and cardboard, not exactly my favorite thing to do! Lots of limitations, some frustrations, but a reasonable week for the work all things considered, often felt like I was hanging on for dear life via the process, but a straight and narrow gate was clearly what I had to go through. Cooled off Friday, a great relief to have a breezy morning yesterday in the 60s. Waning moon, headed into the last quarter now, would have to say this has been the best August ever for the work, but have been too hot for too long, time to take a few days off and regroup. New moon next Friday morning, a lot of oomph is in its way with this one, will be interesting to see what it brings.


      First one this week, did a lot of wholesale removal, ended up thinking it was a little nutty but interesting: liked the way the space was flat on the one hand, but went into different planes too. About 8.5x9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Another one that had ideas of its own, quite possibly too many, but it seemed best just to make it and see how it felt. Several musicians are credited with saying "If you don't make mistakes you aren't learning anything," but the larger point is that it's true. About 8.5x9.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Felt like it was time to get a little more space to maneuver in. In some ways this one integrated what had happened in the first two, in other ways it continued to expand or explode into something new. Was very conscious while doing this of my hands knowing what wanted to happen even though my mind didn't. I kept thinking, "Why do you want that to happen?" sort of checking up on it, but finally just let it all come through. Was surprised by what I saw the next morning, had no idea at the end what it looked like. About 9.5x11 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily is a very patient and relatively oblique teacher. She'll do the same thing over and over again until I begin to understand what she's getting at. You would think I'd realize what's going on, but sometimes I'm inherently in too much of a hurry. For the last few months, she's been developing this ritual at the front door when I come to get her in the morning. I used to just let her in, say hi and pet her for a while, then we'd go upstairs: she'd always start after me, but beat me to the top. But over the summer, she's been slowing everything down, going up a few steps, stretching, then pausing, over and over: extending the time on the stairs in all kinds of different ways, even going back outside briefly a few times, until she only races me a few steps to the top. Now, I like spending time with Lily, but the stairs, being sort of a semi-public space and not exactly the smartest locale, wasn't my idea of where to do it. So I found myself a little impatient with this and wondered now and then what the heck she was up to. Then, this week, out of the blue, I finally realized that she wants me to be more aware of my unconscious inner categories: to stop judging any place or time as less than, and instead see each moment as an equal opportunity. To just be there, without an agenda to be somewhere else instead. Not to hurry up the steps, but to treat each step as an equal part of the process. Outside, steps, inside: all aspects of one continuum. So, the last few days, I've been slowing down on the steps, talking to her more, making it more of a ballet, and of course she has noticed this because the stairs are now more fun. Sometimes her eyes sort of light up and she gives me this knowing look, like, "Well, I knew if I gave you about a hundred chances you'd get it." I haven't gotten that look yet on the stairs, but it might be coming soon.

august 18

      A few lower humidity days to start off the week with cool nights, but now back to the usual, a lot of thunderstorms that never came here again, relatively brutal the last few days, Lily has been spending the days inside, going out at night. Another brief round of lower humidity days next week, seems like it gets officially cooler in the second half of September. Week of the full moon, the Schumann resonance was all over the place this week, had three days when I could do very little. Growing up, this used to be part of the righteous frustration of August, but, since coming back, year by year I've slowly learned to be more patient, back off, be more comfortable with being when doing is off limits. I mean, I like it that we all exist eternally in the flow, movement, and limitless possibilities of the Creator, but personally, it usually takes a little while to slow down enough to give them an opportunity. So, in spite of everything, I kept asking questions, meaning there were a few interesting developments, but it wasn't like last week, where the process felt jet-propelled. I liked what did happen, but feel like it was more about going further with what's possible than making official finished work. Partly this is the cumulative experience of the heat this summer, I just don't have that much oomph left to work with compared to June. But more is also happening in the work, and I'm getting more comfortable just letting it go where it wants to, instead of trying to give it rosy cheeks and a coy look for the Salon. So, because there is so much distrust of this inherent desire to make product, that feels good, but also makes me realize how much, in the past, this process has been involved in judgement on the one hand, and the quest for the permanently-viable product on the other. Which seems kind of silly at this remove, but pretty much all lessons learned feel that way in retrospect. I knew the wings were wax, why did I try to fly so high?


      A few people have asked about linseed oil soap recently. There used to be a nice one called Ugly Dog, this was sold to Richeson, they now put out a version of it that has "natural cleansers" in it as well, whatever those are. It might be fine, I don't know, at this point for me the art supply industry is guilty until proven innocent. There is a version of it on the Viking Sales website as well, made by a boutique soap firm in California, but, again, it is enhanced with natural cleansers. Viking sales has the Swedish linseed oil soap by Ottosson and Allback, but this is for wood, and is diluted, it is like Murphy's Oil Soap, only made with linseed oil. A few years ago, having had good luck making small amounts of linseed oil soap using potassium hydroxide, I decided to make a large batch. This went on and on, and never quite turned into soap, it got too late, I decided to give up. Which was silly, I should have just turned it off, and started again the next day with a little more hydroxide solution. Anyway, I've got 4 pints of it, about 150 dollars worth if I can actually turn it into soap! One of them has actually become soap on the top, pictured here, but about an inch beneath this it's still proto-soap. So, when the weather finally cools off, it might be fun to see if I can finish this soap, it probably won't take too long. This stuff is incredibly concentrated and great for cleaning brushes.


      In theory beeswax will bleach in the light if its in water. Got this wax from an apiary in VT years ago, it has only been in situ for about a month now.


      Was cruising around looking at materials and found this beeswax by R&F Encaustics, they say it is bleached mechanically rather than chemically. The Kremer bleached beeswax I've been using has a somewhat industrial "cooked" smell I'm not that thrilled about, which actually started off this round of more interest in wax. Anyway, this R&F wax smells like a jar of honey, I mean, exactly, which I like better. Next we'll see how it performs.


      Last year I did a lot of experiments refining linseed oil with various emulsions, as originally suggested by my friend Roland. This was fun, mostly because there were so many different things that worked to create the emulsion, and also because the emulsion system cleans the oil really well. Here's an example of one of the emulsion-refined oils, allowed to autoxidize a little beyond the thickness of stand oil. I'm holding the jar parallel to the floor, the oil is being held in by the dried film. You can see there's an access hole in the dried film just above the oil on the right. The area above and around the hole is the dried film itself. And if you're thinking that is very light for an autoxidized film of this thickness, I agree!


      Made some small panels this week, a few days when this was all I could hope to do. Sort of jumping the gun in terms of where I am with the colourscape work, but it's nice to have them around.


      Have tried several different ways of making sketches and drawings for these paintings, but nothing has been immediate enough. This is the approach I like best so far, small marker studies on odds and ends of printmaking paper. Of all the counter-intuitive things, at first I thought it was going to be too goofy, but as soon as I got some of them going it helped: they carve up the space with colour quickly, allowing a lot of variations to be explored without getting fussy or being " like a painting." Of course, now I need more markers. I typically resist urges like this but I've been a prisoner of the heat too long so something fun needed to happen. I didn't know that these things come in hundreds of groovy colours now. Who could resist "Aubergine?" Well, I did, but it was a near run thing. Still, it would be interesting if colour names got a little edgier. I might have gone for a purple called "Livid Bruise," for example. Of course, I wish they made the process primaries in a dozen values, but that would be too simple, encourage too much in the way of creative colour interaction.


      Started this one last Sunday, fiddled around with it on Monday morning. Noe colours, a new type of composition, I like the proportion but the vertical emphasis is probably too much, an indication of someone who is tired. Changed the medium to get more additive density, it worked but maybe too well. Still, too much grab is better than too much glide at this scale. About 5x13.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Started this the day of the full moon, very warm in the studio, it slid too much in spite of everything I did. Did more on it the next morning, it ended up feeling pretty full in terms of the colour. Tried an underpainting using markers, isolated it with a translucent chalk gesso, this worked but the look of the marks that peak through is too different, and I actually didn't like following a pattern. Some interesting new elements in this one, but not fully resolved: a little too angular or static overall. It will be fun to revisit this concept in a while, though. About 8x9 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      The various odds and ends of hide glue in the fridge had deteriorated, so switched back to a small amount of starch in the medium for this one instead of a small amount of hide glue as a way to make the paint seize. Used twice the amount of starch as hide glue, in theory this should produce the same level of hold, but it was just too hot in the studio, this one slid a reasonable amount all day long. This situation could probably be solved by breaking out the sandarac varnish, but I don't have much of it and I'm not sure I want to make any more hard-resin varnish at this point. In theory it could be done in the backyard, the smoky final part is pretty focused and not that long, so *probably* would not result in one of the neighbors calling the fire department. Anyway, this will become less focal as it cools off again and the paint sets more. Did this one from a pencil drawing, nothing underneath. Didn't want to introduce more colour, orange was logical but I kept taking it out, this led to a little more cohesion but the colour isn't really resolved, another one that's more about asking questions than answering them. Some aspects of it that I like, see detail below, nice balance of angles and curves in this. There's a lot of lyrical internal landscape to explore, will go further with this approach. Waning moon and a lot of heat next week, time to back off, mMaybe some drawings and marker studies, develop the structural vocabulary. Stay spacious, remain cool, calm, and collected: Daedalus, not Icarus. Not too much more of the heat to go, but it's not over yet. About 8.25x13.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily on the porch roof on one of the cool afternoons early this week. She was checking out the downspout thoroughly to see if anybody might be in there, but looked up when I leaned out the window with the camera. I got a pound of rose quartz a while back and put it in the bedroom on either side of the pillow. She's discovered this and often takes a nap right next to it.

august 11

      Uniformly hot and sticky week until yesterday, a few low humidity days in progress now, the first since June, whew. Actually got a little bothered by the heat one day, took me a while to realize it since it hasn't happened this year so far, sort of a surprise since in theory it's been much hotter. But maybe it's all cumulative, even Lily has stopped going out so much in the heat of the day, it's been nice to have her hanging out in various cooler spots while I work. One bang-up thunderstorm that went on and on, those long slow sizzling hisses in the sky before a boom, went out for a walk late as it was ending, I love that kind of light. Waxing moon, a week with a lot of background tension somehow, nothing specific, possibly just the sense of being imprisoned in the heat with no end in sight that I associate with August. The eighth day of the eighth month is called the Lion's Gate in astrology, traditionally a time of increased communication between above and below. The Schumann Resonance has been going nuts off and on for about a week now, so I wonder if this tense feeling -- as though something is growing in spite of everything that is trying to stop it from growing -- might be due to that too. A few negative things happened via e-males from Vermont, notable in their way but historically pretty minor for August. People evolve in different ways over time, perhaps stay in touch too long. It helps to have realized that all forms of verbal abuse are autobiographical, and that turning emotional lead into gold is the foundation of soul growth. Also, that there is now closure, completion. Did my best to keep focused on the positive, this and the ever-therapeutic nature of the work seemed to help balance things again more quickly. Of course, once you transmute one event, they begin to get the next one ready. Have been doing lots of work the last month or so with the asteroids in astrology, these are relatively new and there are of course lots of them, but if they're limited to very close aspects to natal planets or angles they really begin to tell a much more detailed story. It's both fascinating and a kind of shocking in terms of the symbolic sense of completion that's there. But it makes sense if the universe is one infinite being exploring itself in an infinite variety of fractals. So, I'm involved in proving to myself at yet another level that the definition of reality I was brought up with is hopelessly shallow. The most fun imaginable, to be honest: infinity is the best revenge. The work had a good week in general, maybe more in terms of the growth of the colourscape process than in actually completing images. But putting too much stress on completion and not enough on growth is what stunted the process back in 2007, when I made and sold many of these. I'd love to make these at their former home scale, which was some variation of half a 22x30 sheet, but exploring lots of options at a small scale first really seems to be helping their specific gravity, some of them have more weight or clout this week in a way I really like. Still, the bigger size is more physically natural, so at some point -- like, when August is over -- it will just naturally start to happen again. I used to sort of fret over this kind of stuff: strategizing about what to do, making the best plans. But the present moment makes much better plans than I do: things work out much better when they get to assemble themselves their own way. Are the process and its materials sentient? Unfortunately for the Newtonian empiricist that lurks in most of us, it cannot really be any other way in an infinite universe. This approach is also much more interesting to experience, because it is always creating a surprise: the next step beyond what I thought was possible. Is the process then the teacher? What do you think?


      It's been too hot to make a cup of tea in the morning so I've gone to cold-brewed tea with the assorted lower caffeine oolong teas, mostly from Darjeeling, leftover from last year. This method reveals a lot of flavours that you can smell, but which are often muted, or even eliminated, by even lower temperature hot water brewing. So, the result is brighter tasting, more floral and dimensional, and sometimes surprisingly nice. The problem is that it takes three days to get it right. Well, only a problem because it means being organized when it's so hot there's not that much brain to be organized with.


      One thing I do periodically is deal with jars of hand-refined linseed oil that are getting too thick. I used to thick there was no such thing as too think, but I've realized that, especially with brighter colour in a humid climate, too much saturation can lower the tone of tone work a little over time. I've usually made this oil a little thinner and less likely to darken under stress with autoxidized poppy oil, or autoxidized walnut oil. The oil mix doesn't get too much thinner, but it stops thickening at such a strong rate because of the poppy or walnut oil. But right now autoxidized walnut and poppy oil are at something of a premium, so I tried cutting some thicker autoxidized linseed oil today with a heat polymerized oil, the thinner one from Kremer, which is the most non-yellowing oil named stand oil I have. The Graphic Chemical burnt plate oils #5 and #7 are also pretty non-yellowing, but made by a slightly different process. Anyway, mixed about 2 parts thick autoxidized hand-refined linseed oil with 1 part Kremer stand oil, the stand oil was about half as thick as the autoxidized oil. As I began to stir it, I got a surprise: it got thicker. Not a lot thicker, but some. I stirred it several times over a period of a few minutes because of the thickness of the oils, and the different way they were thickened: one with high heat in a vacuum, the other with light and air. Each time I started to stir it, it seized slightly, and, in the end, the little air bubbles in it were virtually motionless. The bubbles disappeared by the end of the afternoon, but the oil is still turbid, so something is going on in there. It will be interesting to monitor this oil over the next few months to see if it slowly becomes more gelatinous from the interaction of the two different types of thicker oil involved.


      Started with this one, more dynamic composition with curves and diagonals, a lot of punch or pizazz in the colour application. It's hard to believe I've had the same tube of phthalo green for fifteen years, but a little does go a long way. About 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Next went to something with quieter colour and the Golden Rectangle proportion. I like both the colour and the vastness of this and the layers are settling nicely in life, but it doesn't seem totally resolved. About 8.25x13.5 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Next made a blue and purple one. It feels like both the colour scheme and the composition have potential but the different types of geometry need to be more integrated, and I'd like the colour to have some higher values. So, something new to explore again in another one. About 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      This one was fascinating to work on, the small scale of the marks made the scale seem vast, which was very peaceful to work on. But I ended up feeling it isn't quite resolved. Right now I like the right half better than the left half, or maybe the left third. Unlike the one above, I want to do more to this one first, rather than using it as a point of departure for a new one. But it feels like there's something here worth pursuing, especially as a model for one at a larger scale. About 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      This was Friday, was a little at sixes and sevens about doing it or taking the day off. It was a little like a bucking bronco, a lot of energy but not a lot of control for quite some time. It featured a lot of goofy stripes and patterns but I got rid of most of them, a lot if wholesale removal in this one, not ideal because the colour isn't layered to the same extent, this makes it a little raw for me, but I ended up liking the overall look, and the idea of blending the more dramatic and pastoral elements of earlier in the week. About 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily waiting out a giant thunderstorm inside on Thursday afternoon. She spent more daylight time inside this week, was typically out from 3am to 11 am. We were both relieved when it cooled off on Saturday.

august 4

      Uniformly hot week: not that hot, and not that humid, but warm at night, meaning warmer in the house in the morning, AC on all the time, increased caffeine intake to remain functional. Have managed, but not succeeded in being grateful for, the humid heat, therefore it must build character. Week of the new moon, a lot of new wanted to happen in a quiet way, sort of a surprise with the moon in Leo, expected more of a roar. August is not traditionally the best month for me, I associate it with an almost terminal sense of lassitude and frustration from growing up here, the possibility of a more functional summer was a big attraction of Vermont. But, as the sovereign architect of my multiverse experience, I'm changing that. Now. Yes. So, this August is not being done to me, it's being done for me. Is this creative narcissism? Ha-ha, bring it! I'd love to define progress in terms of moving relentlessly forward, but unfortunately, experience has shown that, if it's going to be creative, it's also about pausing and reassessing things. August is really good for this. I need to work on appreciating this more; can accept being the tortoise, but will always long to be the hare. So, this week: steered clear of a few distractions on offer, and generated a little balanced growth in the process: about all I can ask for right now.


      I'd always wondered about methyl cellulose as a size, Gottsegen is actually positive about it, and especially since, from the smell, it seemed to be what Arches used to make their oil-proof paper, Huile. But it's funny, it was hard to get off the mark on this one, possibly because glue gesso has been such a friend for me, possibly because it would take so long to really learn about it. There are lots of different kinds of methyl cellulose, used by conservators as a glue. In the past I've used it to make tempera, a paint I love, and in very small amounts of seize a medium. Did a test this week, 5cc generic methyl cellulose from Talas in 100 ml water, it was a liquid gel. Put this on a scrap of Tiepolo, let it dry, put some oil on it, no seepage after 24 hours. Then made some gesso using methyl cellulose instead of glue, kept everything else the same. It's denser than glue, more apt to make impasto, needs to be brushed out well, but had a nice character that way once I got used to it. A little buckled once dry, but this disappeared after being weighted overnight. On the whole, a softer feeling, a lot less surface tension than glue, the pieces of Tiepolo have no tendency to curl. So, hard to say, may or may not do more with this, a lot of testing would be needed on canvas, for example, with an oil primer, but so far it seems to work well enough to keep going with it as an experiment on paper or panels.


      So, it turns out that, to get natron, you don't need to go to Egypt, you just need an ancient dry lake bed. Well, chemically, that may be a slight exaggeration, but there's lots of sodium sesquicarbonate, the major ingredient, in America. The mineral is generally called trona, after the small mining town near Death Valley in California where it was originally found. Photo is of the Trona Pinnacles. I was thinking I might be able to get a chunk of trona, when a search on Amazon actually turned up sodium sesquicarbonate, so I got some of that instead. Because it is salt-free, it may be less yellowing over time in oil than the mineral, which contains small amounts of salt. It's actually being marketed in England as Borax Substitute, since the EU has decided borax is toxic.


      This month's test panel is getting kind of lively. Various wax tests, then I realized -- duh, as usual -- that a medium formula could be tested additively, ingredient by ingredient, so did a few of those.


      Test of the sodium sesquicarbonate wax, it's not as dense and creamy as the soap-emulsified wax, but is more coherent, less fluffy, than wax emulsified with sodium carbonate alone.


      Started here this week, tiny test using a little of last week's fake natron wax in the medium. Slightly different palette, just wanted to play around, sometimes little can be big. About 4x5 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      Second one this week, slightly softer version of the same palette, the medium made somewhat denser impasto. Felt it was a little staid, but decided to move on rather than get into major surgery. About 8x9 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      Third one, same palette, more acceleration or tension in the composition. This one has a lot of zip in life, a nice balance of certainty and alteration, a peak in the type of progress produced naturally -- that is, slowly -- by the process. About 8x9 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      Fourth one, decided to go to a Golden Rectangle. The colour layering evolved in this, but things got a little confused about the composition. Didn't look at the previous one, just thought about it, was surprised at how similar this one became. Also got a little confused about the scale here. Want to change something about the right hand third: for example, if the right hand pink area becomes light green that solves it. But, best to just let it sit for a while. Wanted to work with Arches Huile as a way of making things lighter, as in less serious, but, well-done as it is, it does not grip the paint for layering as thoroughly the glue gesso ground with some silica and that 200 grit marble dust. So may go back to that on Tiepolo. Like keeping the colour lyrical and organic. Am aware of other kinds of colour, but it seems like the colour decisions have to be more emotional than anything else. Am slowly getting a sense of what is important and what is extraneous within the composition, this has always been the weakest link, fun to see it responding bit by bit. About 8.25x13.5 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      Lily has a group of friends in the neighborhood, people who walk by our house on their way home from the train, and enjoy her. I had a chat with one of them this week. He wanted to know if I thought Lily was part Bengal, and I said, Well, at first I thought so, and then I looked at lots of other tabby cat photos and began to think not. He thought that the marking on her forehead was a sure indication, but for me the surest one at this point is that she's got a big personality and a goofy sense of humor. This week she actually spent part of a couple nights inside. On the first of these, I woke up suddenly in the middle of night, thinking I had just had a dream that Lily was trying to wake me up. I was lying there, in that huh? what? daze, trying to sort out what had just happened, when she popped up by the side of the bed and whacked my hand again. I always get a big kick out of this, its somehow related to that bit in the old Captain Kangaroo show when Bunny Rabbit tricks the Captain out of a bunch of carrots once again and sweeps them victoriously off. Anyway, I had this sudden surge of elation: Lily's here! And, in this absurdly good mood, got up to feed her and let her out. Has she trained me well, or what? The neighborhood is very quiet, and sort of dream-like, at 3 am on a summer night.

july 28

      In progress...High summer, the giant hibiscus are out in the neighborhood, such a gloriously nutty flower. Another uniformly hot week, some cooler nights earlier, lower humidity in general, was able to turn off the AC for a few days, always a nice break. A lot of energy from the heat, but less focus in the third week of the moon, tried to just keep going with interesting but also familiar results. I like where the colourscapes are going overall but have to go slowly, let the process build bit by bit over time. August is around the corner, traditionally the month that requires the most patience, typically in an unexpected way. New moon late on the 31st, the last one packed quite a wallop. Lots of tension in the sky still between the new Feminine and the old Masculine, we'll see what assortment of spats and revelations this moon brings.


      Each week a lot seems to happen on this marble tile. I always mix the medium into the paint at 1 part medium to 4 parts paint. This ends up balancing relatively small proportions of certain ingredients. It starts with 1/2 teaspoon of a thicker fused damar and beeswax medium, then there's 1/8 teaspoon of egg yolk, these are standard, but the other ingredients move around a bit. There's a measuring spoon called a "pinch" that I'm using a lot now, this is 1/16 of a teaspoon, which works out to about 2 percent of the total paint film. Stronger ingredients like BPO#7 or hard resin varnish definitely need to be used at this proportion. This element of proportion is crucial in being able to fine tune a medium, but also in terms of using various ingredients successfully. Painters often want to be able to categorize ingredients as good or bad -- I run into this a lot reading threads on Facebook -- but for this to be relevant, there need to be qualifiers, and quantifiers, involved. The universe is designed so that, the more we pay attention to a given process, the more predictable and elegant our results can be. We tend to accept this only to an extent, and formulate rules about what works and what doesn't. We don't want to walk, this takes too long. We want to drive, this creates the illusion of greater progress, so we need a "road" to drive on. This compresses time, (whereas walking expands it), thus making us think there is less time. This creates more of a sense of urgency, making it that much harder to pay attention. The endless loop of devolution called "America." In larger terms, since the process is infinite, any set of rules can only work to an extent. Beyond that, the rules bind the process, meaning the process either dies, or rebels until we pay attention to it at another level. We have free will, and can attempt to define life in an empirically predictable and simplistic way, but what life actually does is change and grow infinitely. This process of growth, of becoming more, is literally built into every particle of the universe. It cannot be stopped by any human agency. There are of course people who remain involved in using money and power to try to thwart growth. Yet, this involves working against the agenda of their own molecules.


      Tried the paper sandwich again this week with a glue based on methyl cellulose, with about 7% PVA added by volume. This was a little easier to work with than the starch base and seems to have worked out the best so far in terms of laying flat. There's sort of a Zen thing to getting *just* the right amount of glue on. Sometimes I get it, but then I think I've got it and lose it. But it's easy to add a little more, usually to the bottom edge. Also, it's crucial to burnish both sides of the paper!


      My friend Roland sent me an interesting abstract of a book that's about to be published. It's an analysis of the Donna Nuda at the Hermitage. There's a series of these nudes, in theory based on a lost Leonardo drawing. The weird thing about this is that, even the Hermitage says this painting is "school of Leonardo." Whatever that means: museum code for scholars made such a stink we had to change the attribution even though we didn't want to. To me it doesn't even look like it was made in the same century or country. But the authors of the book are very clear that they are the first scholars to have actually analyzed a Leonardo. Zowie! I guess after Salvator Mundi, everything is now a Leonardo. Quick, how can we capitalize?


      Roland also sent me an interesting doctoral dissertation this week that deals with the use of saponified wax in various Roman wall paintings. The version I've used in the past is emulsified with a very small amount of handmade soap, I thought it was *the* old Roman wall painting version, as opposed to the ammonium carbonate Greek medieval version, but this paper focuses on a third method. The soap method has worked very well in small amounts to tighten the paint and make it more thixotropic. On its own, or with a water-based binder, this material is very non-yellowing, and medium tests with this type of ewax added have also all yellowed less than tests without. The new versions were made with sodium carbonate, and a mixture of sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and salt that approximates the composition of natron. Natron is a complex salt from Egypt that was used both for enbalming and to saponify beeswax. The fake natron version is a little finer, and neither of these are dense, creamy, and fudgey like the soap version ewax. On the surface, the soap ewax is a more congenial material, the newer ewax variations aren't as seizing or thixotropic but I made a very nice mobile emulsion using one of them with a little BPO, hide glue, and chalk. I made some simple yellowing tests with the new versions, but will have to work them into a medium and a painting test at some point to begin to understand what they do. So, maybe this approach is not better or worse, but different. The key will be whether small amounts produce a film that is as resistant to yellowing as the soap version.


      The Wadi El Natron outside the Nile Delta in Egypt. Yikes.


      Medium test using the fake natron ewax. This was 4 parts BPO #5, 8 parts chalk or marble dust, 1 part beeswax paste (wax in minimal oms), 1 part natron wax, and 1 drop of Manila copal in oil of rosemary for 2.5 ml of medium (1/2 teaspoon). The natron wax arrests the slide of the beeswax, but the thixotropy comes from the very small amount of Manila copal. Used at 1 part medium to 4 parts paint, this is about 4% wax. (For the math, I cut the parts of chalk or marble dust in half because they contain so much air.) If the natron wax is as non-yellowing as the original soap emulsified wax, this might be very nice as a way to alter the strong glide and leveling behavior of the readily available heat polymerized oils like stand oil and BPO.


      Wanted to make something a little larger, this proved to be a much easier scale to navigate. Had fun with this one, people tend to think of red, yellow, and blue as "basic" but it all depends on how you approach it A different type of chromatic detail than the last few weeks, but am not sure it's done. Something might need to change on the right. About 13.5x15 inches, oil on Arches Huile.


      It's been a long time since I was waylaid by a premixed colour. This is Persian Rose, by Williamsburg. It has a warm and cool red, a yellow, and titanium white. I thought, Oh no, titanium white. Then I thought, Stop being so serious, it's just one colour: what could go wrong?


      Well, a lot. Got a later start with this one on Thursday, and didn't feel the composition that strongly. Not the best sign, but I just decided to move on through it, not be stopped. Had a great deal of fun with the colour that day, but in the end the composition was still up in the air. Did more on it Friday, a lot of surgery, full removal, then new colour. This was also fun, never say die, a new level of rescue operation, but everything began to get opaque and sort of chalky, the dreaded look I associate with more than a small amount of titanium white. The last thing I did was begin to open it up again, carving into edges and removing many small divots of paint in patterns. This actually came pretty close to getting it going in a good direction again. If you cover up the upper right hand corner, the rest of it makes kind of wacky sense. So, a good example of what happens when I try something new during a waning moon, and also of what happens when an opaque boutique colour takes over: will experiment with a transparent version of Persian Rose and see how that works out. Not that much paint on this, all things considered, but I'll wait a month or so before doing more to it. In larger terms the most important thing right now is to keep pushing the boundaries, accrue more grammar and vocabulary. 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lily comes in later in the afternoon and has a snack. Sometimes in the heat I also give her some plain non-fat yogurt, she lets me know if she wants this by taking up a specific position in the kitchen. She only eats it from my fingers, it's how the process started and she likes traditions. I have to admit that the feeling of her tongue on my fingertips is always very fun, another way in which, without words, communication occurs. She likes to spend time in the studio if it gets really hot out and I'm in there, she's surprisingly good about leaving paint related things alone but I wanted to make a place that was sequestered and easily cleanable. The window is a favorite spot so I made her a new official place there with a clean towel and some quartz crystals. It was really nice there earlier in the week with the window open and a breeze. There are ways in which she goes out of here way to take care of me, so it makes sense to do what I can for her in return. I used to wonder why people "spoiled" their pets, but not anymore!

july 20

      Week of the full moon, another eclipse, and a heat wave. Have just been running one ac unit so far, but it got up to 86F in the studio this week, a little too hot for me, so put in the other one. Removing the bedroom ac unit was one of Lily's favorite domestic events last fall, because she got to hop down through the open window onto the back porch roof for the first time. She wanted to do the same thing yesterday, while I was working with opening the jammed screen while balancing the air conditioner on the sill. It was pretty funny, collision of feline and human agendas. I love that oh boy look of anticipation she gets, those big green eyes begin to gleam, but couldn't let it happen this time, it was way too hot out already. Really hot in the sun today, but less humid, not as bad in the shade as earlier in the week. And earlier did feature one relatively difficult event, someone was murdered across the street on Monday evening. I was in the bedroom and heard seven shots at very close range, four and then three. Spoke to my downstairs neighbor who called on the phone, she wanted it to be fireworks, then went outside onto the porch. There were already people in the street, milling and looking dazed, so I knew someone had been shot. I didn't see the body, even though it was right across the street. Lily showed up at that point and wanted to come inside. A great many police officers were milling around with flashlights across the street for the next hour, the very hot looking detective in a suit I spoke to the next day said the victim was not from the neighborhood and that it was probably drug related. This happened in front of the old train station across the street, and the unsurveiled open space of these suburban stations in the evening has a history of this type of thing. In the time I've been back, there have been several instances of murder being imported into this otherwise safe neighborhood because the police presence here is so minimal. My neighbors are upset, so to speak, and trying to figure out something to get the city to do, install a camera at the station, etc., but from that perspective the problem remains a few miles away, not here. In larger terms, it seems better to move away from negative events, instead of concentrating on trying to prevent more of them. I did pretty well with this this week, it felt an extension of the last few years training in not allowing the endless negative manipulation of the mainstream news to affect me, and, more importantly, in working on changing my own negative thought patterns when they occur. Spent some time on the porch in the evening asking that the clearly ruptured energy across the street be healed. But still, as I noticed with the deaths of my parents about fifteen years ago, death, even when expected, is inherently profound. If we're all extensions of one being, when someone dies, there's a way in which we all die. And if they die violently, we all die violently; if someone is a murderer, or a rapist and pedophile, we all are. I was asked to look at what that meant this week, and realized that some judgements sure die harder than others. Even if I could exact some sort of satisfyingly primitive justice on the guy, and the big name egomaniacs he enabled, then extorted, it would not heal the damage they have done. So the larger question always becomes how to heal. There is only one way to do this. I understand this, but am still far from it on this one. Most people are headed towards the realization that what happens to one person happens to everyone; that it is time for the self-serving patriarchy riddled with dark secrets to go. I also believe this change is closer than most people think it is. At the same time, the truth is revealed at its own slow pace, it would be overwhelming otherwise. Day to day there's nothing to do but carry on: go get food early in the morning before it gets hot and people begin driving even more erratically than usual, try to get Lily to drink water since she won't come inside, take a walk around 8 pm when it's only 90 out, etc. Have the best life possible under the circumstances. I used to think it was my duty to be upset about everything that seemed wrong or unjust, but now it feels like the purpose is to turn all the lead on offer into gold. It's true there's so much lead sometimes that it gets discouraging, but it provides an opportunity as well. Am I grateful for this opportunity? Well, not yet. But I've stopped yelling at God about it, always a good sign.


      The co-op started carrying better quality organic eggs, the light blue green ones from those goofy Araucana chickens, the yolks are really yellow. Of course, this could just be from marigold petals, and the yellow goes away in tests in a few weeks anyway. They're from out in Amish country, even Cennini says that country eggs are better than town eggs. Mobile but sticky and thixotropic.


      First one, day after the murder, decided to make the happiest thing possible. A little arbitrary, but also therapeutoc. This one was interesting, an inter-penetrating approach I hadn't done before, it was fun, went on to a second day to get it more balanced. Pretty exuberant, flying part like a comic strip explosion, but manageable at the scale. Still exploring what can happen, asking lots of questions, but it seems like that's what this phase of the process is about. 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Second one, lower energy day, heat and events catching up, and the composition began not to work out. So, first one in a while that's had a lot of erasure, scrubbing, digging, etc. I learned a lot about what the paint can do under adverse circumstances in this one, which was good, and there are some interesting spots, but the composition got locked, and the space got too flat. It feels sort of 20th century, didn't exactly get redeemed. Which is okay. Best to be honest about what happens, and just keep moving on. 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Third one, relatively simple compositional phase, it was just there. Which has been rare so far with this iteration of these, but is always nice. At the same time this created uncertainty about this one while I made it, the composition wasn't as active as usual, wasn't sure how that would play out. So, in one way this one is the most resolved, but in another it is too resolved. Still, there are some things I like in this one: an evolution from the panoptical chaos of the first one, and the way the colour says things like beach and toys. 9.5x10.75 inches, oil on gessoed paper.


      Lost the old news today, I was beginning to add new paragraphs for this week and it just disappeared. Maybe I hit something wrong on the keyboard, it may have just gotten too long. There's a Google cache system where it can be retrieved, but that's too much for now. I put the most recent work up in the colourscape gallery. Those paintings are in chronological order, so the new ones are on the last two pages.


      Lily eying the wonders of the back porch roof last fall the week after her adventure.

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