Monday, December 29, 2008

First drawing for newest painting

This is just part of the drawing for my next painting. I realize that it's hard to see, it's drawn very lightly in pencil on a textured gessoed canvas. Line drawings are not very pretty anyways but I need to do them on anything that has to be kept in perfect perspective. It is just a guideline for the painting, you can't really just fill in the lines with paint :)

I had hoped to get the whole drawing done, but I'd forgotten that I wanted to put a light coat of new gesso on the canvas. I've found that when you buy gessoed canvas it is rather slick, the new layer gives the paint a better bite. I've learned you have to let it dry very well so I lost a couple hours waiting for it to dry.

For those of you who have never done a grid drawing, here's how it works. I put together a ref in photoshop (actually Gimp), sizing the whole piece to be 8x10 print size. I then combine different references as layers, moving them around until I'm happy with the composition and print it. I then grid the print into one inch squares. Then I draw out a grid of two inch squares on the canvas. I use the squares as guidelines for positioning as I draw. I can and have free hand drawn other paintings, but it is way too easy to get off on angles when doing mechanical work. 

Once I get done with the drawing I will erase any unnecessary lines with an elastic type eraser. I then coat the drawing with a layer of retouch varnish. This seals the graphite in place so that it can never migrate into the paint. I could also use an almost clear coat of gesso, but I draw fairly light and that can obscure some key points. 

If you follow along on this WIP you will be amazed at the changes it goes through before the final touches. All that the line drawing really does is save me some work positioning things later, I can paint a bit more freely once I have a map in place. 

So, are you wondering what this is? If you can see it good enough (I tried to up the contrast a bit) you'll see that it is a girl (me!) riding a Harley (1200 Sporty to be exact). You can probably see a bit of an odd shaped building behind me and a curved wall to the left of the bike. That is the beginning stages of a walled road that leads to a castle. The small building is probably a coach house that sits across the lane from the main building. 

I don't usually do paintings specifically for gallery shows but the concept for this particular show intrigued me and I immediately saw my interpretation in my head. The show will be at the University of Idaho during March, National Women's History Month. The Woman's Studies Program at the University puts on a yearly show. I had a piece in it two years ago but was not painting last March. 

The theme for the show is: "From Cinderella to Fiona: Reconstructing Fairy Tales from a Feminist Point of View:. It is supposed to be an original and innovative way to teach girls and young women about what it really means to be a woman.

I grew up in an era when women were expected to fill a certain role. Nothing wrong with that role if a woman chooses it, but there really weren't places for women to step out into other fields.  It didn't take much for me to figure out that this was not fair...I knew for a fact that I could out think, out run and out dare any boy I knew, so no one was telling me that they were better than I and therefore should have more opportunities. 

I've always had a bit of rebel in me and yet like any girl I loved to lose myself in fairy tales. The funny thing is that as a tomboy, I did not see myself as the fairy princess, no, I rather liked the idea of riding my own white horse off into the sunset (maybe I'm mixing up fairy tales and westerns here lol). I also had noted that women throughout history had not always played the expected role either. Amelia flew off into history, Susan B. Anthony had her home in the town I grew up in and Cleopatra may have been a queen but she didn't really fit the stereotype either.

I wondered for a split second how they broke the mold others made for them and it came to me...they just decided they were going to do something and never let anything or anyone stop them. Stubbornness is one of my character traits, so I decided that that was just how I would do whatever I wanted in life, even if others said I couldn't. I worked construction when it was pretty much a man's domain and I got my own Harley despite the common belief that I belonged on the back and not in the front. Oh, I took a little crap, but I gave back as good as I got and I earned my respect along the way. They have a saying that a woman has to work twice as hard as a man to prove themselves but I found that all you have to do is get your scoot to the next traffic light twice as fast  :D

Anyways, this is what I'm drawing on for this painting. It is going to be titled with my own favorite private saying...'I am, therefore I can" It will show me riding out of that really-not-so-fairy-tale castle on my own damn steed, grinning bigger than the Cheshire Cat. :D 

For me that's always been it...I've always known that I can ride off into the sunset any time I want. It doesn't mean I have to leave responsibility behind but it's me that gets to decide where I should be, because it's nobody's life but my own. 

Now I just have to get my fairly realist painting to convey all that without words lol


(Just for cuteness sake I've thrown in a photo of Boots playing in the snow below)


  1. Sue,

    What a great story of rebellion. I call it "causing good trouble." We need people to push the boundaries of our misconceptions and stereotypes, to cause trouble in a good way. Without that, we might never have elected a black president or discovered that bread mold might be medicine. Ride on!


  2. Thank you, Matt! I really like that phrase "causing good trouble".

    Great profile link btw ;)


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