Sippican Cottage



A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Third Or The Fifth Of July Or Whatever

I can’t remember where I found the image this is taken from. It was some sort of instruction book for painting…

*** rummage, rummage, rummage***

Ah, yes; How to Draw and Paint What You See
, by Ray Smith.

I painted this on the wall a long time ago for my first son, who dearly loved to go to the 4th of July fireworks. For such a small town, they were quite elaborate. Then the town began getting strange about them. They tried to hold the fireworks on any day except July 4th, because they cared nothing for the meaning of the holiday, only their fireworks display. They deliberately timed it one year to avoid having anyone from outside of town see them. We stopped going. Stopped living there, too.

Anyway, his bed faced the fireworks, and in the wan light of the nightlight, they seemed to glow a little. I’d never painted anything with a monochrome underpainting with colored glaze before. If you’re unfamiliar with painting, you paint a more or less black and white painting first, and then layer washes of transparent color over it. It’s all acrylic, so the work goes fast. I think I did it over a weekend.

It’s just a workmanlike thing. I had sketches to banish the rest of the walls with autumn trees with rope swings, and a sailboat heeling in the breeze, and other assorted tripe. The band of wall above a high wainscot makes a nice, manageable frieze for such things. I never got around to it.

I find I gain a lot of information from mundane sources. Don’t get me wrong; there isn’t much useful information in almost any instructional material anymore. They either are bluffing their way through topics they know little about, or they mete it out with an eyedropper to make the most money. Don’t kill the job, as a man leaning on a shovel looking at someone else in a hole might say. But if you have a hundred bad How-To books, you can figure out how to do anything, if you can deduce which one percent of what you’re reading isn’t worthless.

Michelangelo said sculpting was easy. You just cut away the parts of the block that don’t look like David. I just left the colors on the palette that didn’t look like a bonfire and fireworks.

7 Responses

  1. I'm mostly a philistine, and sometimes it takes some study before I decide I like something, but I'm thinking you done good there.

  2. I have taught art to kids for over a dozen years. You are right. I tell them, "it isn't hard.. it is tedious". Those who can stick with it, usually can make something beautiful. You sure did.

  3. Hi everyone- Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Leslie- Your bench went through Dallas yesterday, but it's still three days away from you. Arizona is a far ride, as they say around here.

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