Vigil


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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick

March 31, ‘15

Today is mild – 45 degrees! —  and quite often, gray.  The has been shining most of the morning.

Albert is sleeping on the rug in the sunniest spot in the house.

Yesterday was colder than today and also sunny.  It was the most spring-like day we’d had all year — until today.  I discovered that bulbs I planted last fall are a couple of inches high.  There was something so hopeful to me in finding those few sprouts of tulips and anemones.

In this season of re-birth, my dear Albert is fading.  I feel as if in a place of Vigil. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart.  I think that perhaps later this week, I’m going to have to make an appointment for Albert with the vet to help ease him out without suffering although I’d rather spare Albert (and me) the stress of having to go anywhere in the car and remain in this place of relative peace.

As Albert lay sleeping in the sun at my feet, I worked on 3 paintings from my Redux pile.  What I did this morning was to burnish the surface of these  paintings with cheesecloth to smooth-out the surface and then rebuilt parts of the surface with a mixture of water, egg white and white paint.  Using egg white was more common to me in Calligraphy and Illumination than in Watercolor painting.  The ancient scribes used thinned-down egg white in ink as well as with pigment and called it glair.  Using glair mixed with ink, the scribe was able to draw very fine lines that wouldn’t run.  Sometimes a scribe would spread glair over the page so that the ink from the pen would be less likely to run.

I’ve used egg yolk in Illumination painting, too.  It makes the paint fatter than I need it to be in these paintings.  In Painting, particularly oil painting, one works from lean to fat – or from thin to thick.  The same theory works well in watercolor, too.  I need to use the glair because I’ve scrubbed these paintings a great deal  — with water and dry cheesecloth. The sizing (glue and whiting) in the paper has been washed off and worn off leaving a surface that is porous and will not hold paint without being rebuilt the way I’ve been doing these past weeks.  Glair will break down a bit with water, even when dry.  Yolk will not break down after it’s dried.  Glair dries to a matte finish, yolk dries to a glossy finish.

For the most part, I’m using glair as a barrier coat.  The glair coating on my paintings should be porous enough to absorb more paint but not so porous that the subsequent glazes will break down the undercoat of glair.  I’ll probably use a bit of glair in the paint when I paint over my mistakes, as well.

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Sunflower, Geranium on Dreamer Table

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After

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Before

Bowl of Strawberries

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After

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Before

Bowl of Cherries

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After

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Before

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One Response to Vigil

  1. beetleypete says:

    The work on the paintings is good, and obviously useful in your situation.
    I am sorry to hear about Albert, but think that you have made the right decision, however difficult.
    My thoughts are with you at a sad time Gretchen.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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