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Painting on Location
by Donald A. Jusko

Scaled Acrylic Painting for Buon Fresco Mural

Little Salmon River, Mexico, New York, #49

15x22 Acrylic panel

5-28-4 The cartoon paper is up and I'm drawing on it in chalk. There is a head board and foot board, a ventilation vent and two electrical plugins to contend with. We decided on a 1 inch white tile as a protective bumper. That is going to be the porch railing and the gate's railing, all across the mural. I need some hair spray as a fixative.
5-29-4 I completely changed my mind about the subject of the mural. Below the ceramic tile chair bumper guard I will make faux marble or real oak wood panel. Above this will be a river painting.
The fresco cartoon has been gridded in 1 foot squares.

5-30-4 I'm painting 'to scale' sized acrylics, in the morning and afternoon. One from 10 in the morning to 12 and one from 1:30 to 5 in the afternoon. Both on a 15x22, 1/4 inch plywood panel with cloth glued on it before the gesso.
6-12-4, As I was painting the starting and ending time moved as I saw an advantage one way or the other. Morning, 9:00 to 11:00. Afternoon, 5 to 7.

5-30-4, The top one I drew out with charcoal, the second with big washes of the local highlight color. With this technique you start with the big light areas and jump to the big darks. It's not as acurate. I might use this technique on the fresco if I try to do the whole top 2/3 painting in one day. That's going to be some big brushes and sponges. The first technique lends itself to giornate cuts in the fresco to paint smaller sections each day. Deep down I want to use the second technique and just cut off what I don't get to.
I noticed something I have to be very careful about. Aerial perspective has to carry the same color across the river, same distance from me, same aerial colors.

Drawing Day

Drawing Day, 5-30-4, 10 AM to 3 PM. I was in omani light most of the day. By 3:00 it was raining so I didn't get to the afternoon session. This photo was taken with a 55 degree lens camera, the drawing is closer to 75 degrees. To paint 75 degrees you must move your head and have two centers. One for each 60 degrees, the amount you can see without distortion.
John cut down the bush in the right foreground for me.

Day 1

Day 1, 5-31-4, 10 AM to 3 PM.            

Day 2
Day 2, I put down a lot of paint today, This is to scale, minus 1/2 inch on the sides, 1/4 inch off the top and bottom and 1/2 inch in the middle.

Day 3, 5-1-4
Day 3, 5-1-4, Today was beautiful. I saw a Red Winged Blackbird, a 3 foot tall blue 'mud hen' egret crane, a muskrat, 30 geese that looked like Hawaii's Ne Ne Bird and three mallard ducks. The sun was fogged in early this morning. The morning painting is from 10 to 1. By ten everything was perfect. The background 1/8th mile away was three basic colors, transparent Thalo turquoise, transparent Dioxin purple and hansa yellow, plus white.

The morning painting uses raw umber, the afternoon uses burnt umber, yellow medium azo and cadmium yellow light. Orange, red and magenta are not in the morning painting except as neutralizers for the cyan-green, cyan and cobalt blue hues.
Neither painting is 100% covered yet, that's my bench mark for being 1/2 done.

Day 4, 5-2-4, Rain. Last night I made a test with the white small sand and lime. To see how white the mortar will dry and to practice some marble faux strokes. I tried making little size colored bits of pigment and mortar and smoothing them in but it took too many strokes to smooth it out and I didn't get the effect I wanted. I'll try it again. I'll try spreading the pigment in lime paste on an already smooth intonaco and brush in some strokes.
Tomorrow John will pick up some marble samples so I can be a little more accurate. I think I found a use for indanthrone blue. It's an awkward color, in lime it sets as ultramarine dark, permanent.

Day 5, 5-3-4

Day 5, 5-3-4, Beautiful morning! I didn't get to work the morning picture but I did have time to do white correcting on both. It takes two coats of jar white acrylic to cover a background. I sanded down the whole panel with a 300# grit wet-dry sandpaper, just lightly to remove any uneven built up paint. I like a very smooth finished painting, always have.
Here is the sanded and white corrected piece before the afternoon session.

Day 5, 5-3-4

Day 5, Afternoon. This was a day of many shape and shadow changes. I filled in this morning's white corrections and made a lot more. I want the time later in the day so there is a bigger color change.

Day 6, 6-6-4

Day 6, 6-6-4, The morning painting is now from 9AM to 11 AM. It was a great day and I got a lot done. Thalo turquoise represents the cool of the Pigment Color Triad, it's a warm cyan. The bright leaf reflections have this tint, the shadows are loaded with it, the dark glazes are done with it. For green, a dark yellow is added. That would be yellow oxide. Yellow gets browner as it gets darker. Burnt umber is a warm yellow, raw umber is a cool yellow. Liquitex Magenta PR:122 is still my acrylic magenta pigment. It's an excellent primary pigment.

Day 6, 5:00 to 7:00 is the afternoon painting. It went very well. Yesterday I had the wind coming from my back and it was turning the underside of leaves. That was showing a more reflective surface and it was reflecting the color of the sky. It was easy to tone down the cyan tint with a wash of Naples yellow, cadmium yellow light and Thalo blue. The tree in the left middle ground changed from being sunlit to in the shade. I have shifted my painting time two hours later to get more contrasts.

Day 7, Saturday, 9:00 to 11:00. Another perfect day for painting. I got back to basics with color still using Thalo turquoise as the warm cyan, PR:122 Liquitex Magenta, hansa yellow, naples yellow, yellow ocher and raw umber. Other colors in play are dioxine purple, cobalt blue, cad red light and burnt sienna.
Now that I have the time down to 2 hours I can adjust the shapes and modify the underlaying colors. I lowered the river in the left foreground.
In the right foreground there are still white chalk outlines where tomorrow I will change the shape of the clump of foledge.

Now I have 5 hours to lay mortar on the fresco, before the afternoon painting.
The afternoon painting session went well. I brought a new color onto the palette, Yellow Medium Azo. Mixed with Thalo turquoise it makes the correct local green. Add a little magenta and I have the shadow color. I lost the sunlight in the last half hour.
I spent another four hours laying mortar, my hands hurt. Forty days later, I still am laying intonaco as I go along and my wrist is still a problem.

Day 8, 6-6-4

Day 8, 6-6-4. This morning I made some pattern shape changes, took out the middle ground tree and re-positioned it. Took out all orange references, it's really a 10:00 AM cool painting.

5:00, The sun was very inconsistent this afternoon, it was good for finding lost branches, pattern outlines and filling changed white areas.
Both paintings are 100% covered with color, to me that means I'm at least half way finished with both.

Day 9, 6-7-4. Morning, it's so good being a short walk from your paintings. And to just leave everything set up for the second session. Knowing the exact time to start and stop also makes everything perfect.

Today I again changed the whole atmosphere, the sky was orange-pink, the reflections were orange-pink and the opposite color is the color of the trees, a deep turquoise. Opposite in color and chroma, mass-tone and top-tone tint.
The big gray crane stopped by, "Paint the bird before it flies away." That was my byline and it was used as the headline of my first newspaper article, 1978.

Day 9, Afternoon. Cloud coverage, no painting. I worked on the mortar and pigments painted with alcohol medium, tests.

Day 10, 6-8-4

Day 10, 6-8-4
Another great morning, it was a little hazier then any other day, but I liked that and used it. My wrist feels better so I laid another 2 yards of Rough mortar between paintings.

Afternoon, I think both paintings are fairly close as far as completion is concerned. Neither of them has entered that fun last stage.

Day 11, 6-8-4

Day 11, 6-9-4
The morning painting is in It's fun stage where I just change colors and work details. The reflections are fun all by themselves. Once I knew where they were.

It was cloudy in the afternoon, no painting.

Day 12, 6-10-4

Morning, I made some color wash changes and some correct colors in the darkest darks.

I have a lot of catching up to do with the afternoon painting. The reflections I want don't stay around long and I didn't get very far with them today. But I can see the end of the tunnel.

Day 13, 6-11-4

6-11-4, Friday Morning, day 13. Perfect weather, for continuing the painting. The two hours went quickly. Inside the house I squared up the painting, the 2'x4' fresco model, and now am ready to put the Brown coat on the 7'x13' fresco. I hope it goes faster than the Rough coat! It looks like it's going to be a good afternoon of painting also.

Friday afternoon painting. I made up one of the two days I missed on location.

The alcohol and limewater tests are dry, Thalo blue with limewater is the dark end of thalo blue, where it turns to a dark ultramarine blue, RCW#25.0.6 transparent. Painted with alcohol as the medium gives me the cyan PB15 hue, RCW#25.0.3 It also gives me that green-gold hue when mixed with Indian Yellow PY153 dioxine nickel complex, RCW#36.3 transparent.
PY129 methin copper complex = Green Gold
PY129 azomethine = Genuine Green Gold
PY129 Irgazine yellow light, greenish-gold

Day 14, 6-12-4

6-12-4, Day 14.
I may be able to finish the morning painting tomorrow. Today I caught the angle of the suns rays in the trees at 10:00. A mallard duck perched on a rock that wasn't there yesterday, the river is lowering. I painted him in.

This afternoon painting is still one day behind the morning scene, but it's catching up on time. The choice is getting harder each day.

The Isaby's #8-10-12 pointed liner is a 'must have' brush, able to do broad sweeps with it's length and fine detail with it's long point. This brush should not be setup for small applications of color. Rather, it's used for major and minor washes and opaque colors. Because.. the brush should be fully loaded to get correct performance.

6-13-4, Day 15. I painted the first giornate section on the 12x24 panel. And finished the brown coat on the wall.

TIP: Earlier I mentioned about having to turn my head to see the whole view indistorted. Here is a tool that helps. The WC40 Watercolor Easle. it swivels the support. I swivel the painting in the direction toward whatever I'm paintng.

Day 16, 6-15-4

6-15-4, Painting Day 16. start day 17
Morning, Big white-out changes to the right tree side area.

Day 18, 6-16-4

6-16-4, Painting Day Morning, I enhanced the direction of the sun making shadows. A shadow of a stick upright in the ground will have the tip of the shadow and the tip of the stick lining up to the sun, no matter where it is in the picture.

Afternoon, both paintings are about even as far as being finished is concerned. Now it's a tough choice.

Day 18, 6-19-4

6-19-4, Raining. Here is what the acrylic looks like. The left top of the morning painting is finished enough for the main mural's first giornate area.

Day 18, 6-20-4

6-20-4, I think I'm finished. Maybe.. It's a much harder mural choice now.

6-23-4, Finished. My covered flip palette was still the working palette. I sprayed water each time I started or stopped painting.
Now.. which one to use for the mural, the morning..

Day 21, 6-23-4

Or the evening..

Day 21, 6-23-4

NEXT FRESCO PAGE, #50 12x25 scale model fresco. fresco1mexico12x25.htm
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