There was no wasted time at Cobalt. While we were waiting for parts of the woodgrain project to dry, we stapled pre-sized muslin to the floor and began the base coat for our marble assignments. We painted the end of both woodgrain assignments and the beginning of both marble assignments simultaneously. For the sake of clarity, however, I will only write about one project at a time.
While we were waiting for paint to dry, we sat in the classroom (which was actually just a rolling table on the studio floor) and discussed different kinds of marble. We learned about how marble is formed in the earth and we learned about different painting techniques. Each of us was then instructed to select two samples of marble from the folder. At least one of the samples was supposed to be a mid-value marble. The reason for that was because it would become our trompe l'oeil marble and the mid-value showed the highlights and shadows better.
As a scenic artist, I have painted hundreds of square feet of marble in my career. I have painted many different types and varieties. I have painted many different techniques. I don't say that to boast, it just is what it is. I determined, however that I was at Cobalt to be taught and to learn, so I chose one marble I had never painted before and also two techniques I had never used for marble before. I decided ahead of time that I was not there to demonstrate what I already knew. I was there to learn what was being taught.
Breccia marble is a marble with a violent past. It is a collection of broken rocks that are cemented together by a fine grained matrix. Fault breccia is created when two fault blocks grind past each other. The broken fragments are then cemented together. There are other kinds of breccia. Basically, it's the conglomerate of marble. It takes a great polish and it's quite stunning to look at. I decided to paint breccia for one of my marble projects.
Step #1: The Base Coat
First of all, Kimb demonstrated a breccia method. It was because of her demonstration that I decided to paint that particular marble.
The first thing I did was to tear up scraps of bogus paper into the irregular but angular shapes of the stones in the breccia marble. I tore paper into large, medium and small stone shapes.
Then I put my first scumble down. I scumbled some dark browns with some medium browns. Then I laid the bogus paper onto the wet paint and scumbled lighter colors over that. Successive layers of scumbling and bogus paper friskits later, along with some random spatter and I had my base coat done. All wet on wet. When I was satisfied with the base coat, I pulled the bogus paper and went to lunch at Big Kev's Barbecue.
If you attend Cobalt, Big Kev's is a must. It's about half a mile down the road from the studio and he serves from a food truck from about 10 AM until all the barbecue is gone. However long it lasts is how long he stays open. Oh, and it is GOOD!
Sadly, I got so caught up in the painting of this project that I didn't photograph as much of it as I thought. So I just have shots of finished steps instead of process shots.
|Base coat, stage one|
|Base coat, stage two|
Step #2: The Layout
We were told to walk around our marble to find the worst corner. The corner we liked the least. Once that was located, we laid out our profile of the finished marble piece. We were going to paint a marble entablature. With charcoal on a bamboo, we laid out our entablature. The corner we liked least would be painted out. That way, our pieces were more dramatic.
We had a tool called a story stick, which is a piece of brown kraft paper that is folded down the middle lengthwise and has markings at intervals which are then transferred onto the marble piece on either side. Lines are drawn between the transferred markings with charcoal and a lining stick. Then the profile of the entablature is cartooned on the side. Every great paint job is a good drawing first, I always say.
Step #3: Shade and Shadow
Using the fuzzy lines we had learned about in the basics project, we began painting our shade on the curved surfaces of the trompe l'oeil. Using fuzzy lines can help you paint both concave and convex shapes. There were both on this project. Shade is the shadow which is caused by lack of light on an object, whereas shadow is cast from an object. We painted both of those a little differently. Shade is created by mixing burnt umber with ultramarine blue and thinning to a watercolor transparency, and shadow is mixed by combining black with ultramarine blue, in other words Payne's Grey. The shadows are also mixed to watercolor transparency.
On a convex surface, the shade is painted on the underneath side, whereas the concave surface has the shade painted on the top side. It will be clear in the first photograph.
After the shade is painted, then cast shadows are added on the areas where light is blocked from one surface to another. All of these shades and shadows were painted with brushes on bamboo and lining sticks. This was guided work, not freehand. Also notice that the shade, shadow, highlight and zinger all project past the charcoal lines. This is all going black anyway so it doesn't matter.
|Cartooning with charcoal and shades painted. Note the concave and convex surfaces and the fuzzy lines|
|Cast shadows added|
Step #4: Highlight and Zinger
Highlight is made by taking the local color, or base color and adding the color of the light to it. If your light source is amber, then add that to it. If the light source is pink, add pink to it and so on and so forth. It's important not to go too far in value above your local color or the piece will appear cartoonish. I like my shade and shadow to be transparent and I like my highlights to be translucent. Zinger and cut lines are opaque. I get the desired translucence from my highlight by adding water.
On the convex surfaces, on the top third, I painted my highlights with fuzzy lines. I also added a small highlight at the top of the piece.
|Highlights added at top of piece and on the two convex pieces of the entablature|
When the highlight was dry, I added the zinger. Actually, I added the zinger when the piece was still wet which serendipitously gave me a fuzzy zinger that I kind of liked, then I waited for that to dry and added another zinger on top of that. The zinger goes on the very top edge of the entablature and in the middle of the two fuzzy highlights.
|Fuzzy zinger in an impatient accident|
|Solid zinger on top of the fuzzy one|
Step #5: Bounce Light and Cut Line
For my secondary light source, I chose a blue light from ankle level. Somewhere along the way, either Rachel or Kimb or both suggested that bounce light often looked really good when it was a complementary color. Since my basic color of the piece was overall an earthy orange, rust color, I chose a blue bounce light. I placed it on the bottom edges of each of the projecting surfaces, as well as in the bottom third of the convex pieces. Bounce light, by the way is best painted in a dry brush technique
|Blue bounce light added on bottom surfaces of projections|
Next came the cut line. I used my one inch Purdy and a lining stick to make a cut line at each transition, where one piece projected beyond another one. In other words the cut line goes at the deepest part of the shadow.
|Cut line added|
Step #6: Paint it Black
With the one inch Purdy, I cut in the profile with velour black. Rachel calls Rosco Velour Black the "Cadillac of black." When that was complete, I got a bigger brush and laid in the rest of the black. No sense painting it with a tiny brush. I've always been taught to use the biggest brush possible for the thing you are working on. Once the black was on, the piece was done.
|Edge cut in|
This was a very satisfying piece to work and learn on. I was happy with the results, but more importantly I was happy with the things I learned on this project.
|All the paint is dry, the piece is finished|