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HomePhysalis alkekengiSeeking Balance

Seeking Balance

Beauty is a Fragile Gift
Ovid
This week has been one of those weeks where Time has been in short supply.
Even as I type this, a large pile of papers and forms sit in reproachful silence beside my desk. I have managed to get through some of the more urgent ones, like registering for VAT in the UK. I’ve even sent off the necessary forms for exhibitions that are coming up, but I still have an enormous mountain of paperwork to sort through and deal with. It’s quite disheartening.
It would be so tempting to just climb back into bed!
As always Painting is my lifeline, my escape and the key to my sanity.
“It is the process of doing art that reduces stress and puts us in that ‘zone’ of spiritual connection.” Diana S. Boehnert

In order to establish a bit of balance into my life, I try to make a conscious effort to always have a little painting on the go. The best subject in busy times is one that can happily sit on my desk whilst I deal with all the tedious stuff, something that won’t wilt, fade or change too much. Allowing myself a few hours to paint is my reward for doing a few hours of paperwork. 
Last week a friend sent a small piece of natural calf vellum from Pergamena and I couldn’t wait to try it out. The first step with vellum is to tape it down. Being a natural product, it has the tendency to warp and bend with a little bit of humidity. I found that the Scotch blue painters tape works really well.
To get rid of any residue oils or greases, you prepare the surface by gently rubbing with fine pumice powder. I bought mine in Cornelissen’sin London. I popped some into a footsie and used gentle circular movements. You can also use this powder to take off the paint if need be.
 I sketched it out onto tracing paper and transferred it onto the vellum. Although you can draw directly onto the vellum. graphite can mark the vellum and it’s better not to mess with the delicate surface too much. I’ve noticed that an eraser can leave marks.
Ready to go!
I must admit that when I got around to the painting, I stopped in my tracks. I had looked at the skeleton and thought that it seemed a simple enough subject… sure, it was mainly holes. What could be easier? Except how on earth do you paint a hole?
The answer is to take a big breath, and using very fine brush, a big magnifier and some washes of W&N cobalt violet and cerulean for the shadows, Add a little bit of natural sienna (Daniel Smith), raw umber (DS and W&N), W&N Light red and DS cobalt …and slowly, slowly build up the shapes. 
For the fruit I used winsor orange, perylene maroon and perylene violet. Surprisingly, this part was  the easiest. It was just a matter of painting the negative shapes between the veins. There was a little bit of negative painting both at the top and the base of the skeleton too, where the shapes overlapped.
It was a very welcome distraction to the tedium of form filling. I still hate paperwork, but at least by allowing myself a little art, I am slowly making my way through this pile.  I should really have written this blog earlier today, but I looked at the lovely sunshine streaming through my studio window and thought, Life is really just too short! So I have another little painting set up and started on my desk. The bookwork can wait until tomorrow!

My temptation awaits…
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.”

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