Meeting the cut - Tomato Lineup
Summer is almost over! The warmer weather will soon exchange for cooler mountain mornings and in the coming weeks, leaves will start changing color. Fall is wonderful, but only if winter holds back for several months it would be greatly appreciated!
When I lived in Virginia I had a small vegetable garden and was able to grow several different varieties of tomatoes. By the end of summer I had so many tomatoes to know what to do with. I find great enjoyment in gardening; however, now that I live in the North Carolina mountains, I don't get enough sunlight to yield a good harvest. So, I enjoy going out to our western NC farmers market and picking up a big supply. I still garden, but only with herbs.
I enjoy eating tomatoes raw, cooked, etc. As a young boy, I remember going out with my grandfather, PaPa, and picking a basket full of tomatoes. James Island, at that time, had so many farming fields that it was easy to find local produce. As we picked, my my mouth would water. I would eat the tomatoes right off the bush, though warm, it was enjoyable. The quintessential summer fruit. Whenever I cook with tomatoes my memories transport me back to that time out in the hot field picking those tomatoes with my grandfather.
I had been thinking about this composition for some time now (2 years). I mapped it out and figured it was going to be simplistic. Not the case. This painting was very challenging for me. It isn't until you start painting and "seeing" that you realized that there are so many color variations. Did I bite off more than I could chew? There were moments of disappointment but I just kept pushing on, praying for "happy accidents".
Total time on this was 12.5 hours. I painted about 2.5 hours for several days back to back. Each tomato slice appeared so different and required an appropriate number of color mixing to get it right. Being sure to squint and make sure that what I was seeing was truly correct. Step back and looking at it. About half way through, I sat and stared at it for an entire cup of coffee before I decided what needed to be done. Such an important aspect of painting (i.e. taking you time).
Painting Medium: 1:1 mix of Safflower Oil + Linseed Oil
This has been by far the largest panel I have painted on, an 11 x 14-inch Ampersand Gessoboard. Different than a canvas (which is either made of linen or cotton will have a rough texture). Gessoboards have a very smooth surface (gesso primed over a masonite board). I use my own mixture of painting medium that allows me to get the buttery texture I am going for. I am a fan of realism. I love painterly, impressionistic strokes. Our brains do the remaining of the work. Fascinating biological science.
When using my painting medium mixture of different oils it causes the drying time to turn into months. I really want these paintings to last into the ages and mixing my paints with this medium allows for the paint to harden slowly which prevents cracking as it ages. Given the length of time it takes to dry, I could come back to this painting in a weeks time and change things. This is why I love oils so much, as it allows me to manipulate until it is just right. With many other paintings I do, I will use turp to mix into my paint and when I do this the paint will be tacky within 24 hours. I go with this method only in the early stages of a painting (i.e. thick over thin, fat over lean). Too much turp could ruin the integrity of any paint as it hardens.
Now, I am going to head to the kitchen and make myself a tomato sandwich.
PS: This original painting is not yet available, but will be made available in the coming weeks. If you are interested in purchasing prints of this painting, please inquire. Will have prices posted soon.