Monday, December 23, 2013

Cornish Cliffs and & ("Ampersand" That Is)

Having lived on the Gulf Coast, I love the ocean and sandy beaches. But I really love the ocean and rugged cliffs! Fortunately, my wife has an aunt who lives in Cornwall -- just 10 minutes by car from the Lizard Peninsula, the South West Coast Path, and rocky serpentine panoramas that quicken my pulse and render me awestruck. I could easily spend months, seasons, or years, studying, sketching and painting this inspiring corning of the world!

Lizard Point No. 1, oils on panel, 5"x7", $75

During our last visit I sometimes completed a sketch of one view, and then followed it up with a detail from the same vantage point. Sometimes I sketched in one direction, and then turned around to sketch the opposite view -- without taking a single additional step along the SWCP.

Lizard Point No. 2, oils on panel, 5"x7", $75

Basking in the sun and trying to shelter against the unrelenting southwesterly wind, I sketched jagged rock formations and tiny, delicate seed pods (wondering all the time what these plants look like in spring or summer, when they're in flower).

The wind makes conventional easel painting challenging (if not impossible). A stretched canvas can react like the sail of a boat (and sometimes alarmingly like the wing of an airplane!) But a rigid panel (like the Gessobord, produced by Ampersand  in Austin, Texas) and lap-sized pochade box handle the meteorological conditions with ease.

when toning the panel is completed just pull the sock inside out and discard: no fuss, no muss

The water's blues (from gunmetal at the horizon to to phthalo and turquoise in the shallows), the earth tones of the cliffs (topped off with the autumn grasses' fading greens), and the pale cerulean of the sky are an artist's delight. But the brilliance of the clear sky light can be harsh reflecting off the panel's titanium white surface. So, before heading out for a day of plein air, I opt to "tone" the board with yellow ochre -- applied in a circular motion and textured with a clean old sock.

And, to deal with the issue of wet panels when traveling, panels are carried in a beautifully designed and constructed panel carrier from the folks at Artwork Essentials in Irvine, CA. (I love a beautifully crafted piece of wood. And this piece of artist's furniture certainly is that -- brass hardware, leather handle and all.)


& (am•per•sand) a logogram representing the conjunction word "and", a ligature for the letters et, Latin for "and". ORIGIN mid 19th century alteration of and per se and ("& by itself is and")... and the name of the company that manufactures outstanding artists' panels in a wide range of readymade sizes -- and an even wider range of custom made (more about the latter in a future post).

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