by Brenda W. Clough
Here is the studio in the underground S. Dillon Ripley Center at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. An, oh dear, now I remember. There’s a reason why I shifted to water color, to acrylic, to words. I’m a whippet, a greyhound — fast, fast. The work has to spin like a Porsche on the interstate, seventy, eighty miles per hour while I slam the gas pedal down. Oil is the quintessentially slow medium, the glazing and underglazing abetted by the s=l=o=w drying time. A good thick layer of titanium white in the clouds can take three weeks to become dry to the touch. It does not come as natural to me. I have been ruined, painting signs in screaming yellow and red. A protest sign painted tonight can be on the march tomorrow.
Another couple errors I immediately made — too small a canvas. This board is 9 x 12 inches. There’s no room! Since I have to carry the canvas into class with me (I have impressed my husband into driving me, but I still have to carry it) my instinct for the 9 by 12 foot canvas has to be throttled. But I’ll have to go spring for something with more elbow room, otherwise it’ll be impossible. And, I forgot even though I knew it fifty years ago — ultramarine blue does not dilute. Mix it with white, and you do not get light blue. You get gray! Why is this? It’s wrong. My instructor lent me a dab of cerulean for this first run at the image, but I have to buy a tube if I want any sky in future. And while I’m at it I now recall that my favorite yellow is Naples yellow, more mellow that cadmium. Buy more canvas board, more paint, yes, gotta do it.