Archive for the ‘ Led Zeppelin ’ Category


Plucked up my courage and set up for varnishing. I do it outside under cover of the carport. It has the best light by far, which means I’m able to catch any problems – dull spots, fur filaments, gnat wings – and fix it right away.


Here’s the painting, balanced on sawhorses. I have the Soluvar and brushes waiting on a stool. The ideal is to cover evenly and quickly, leaving no brush marks. I pour a thin drizzle of varnish and follow with a sort of basket weave of horizontal and vertical brushstrokes.

Varnishing complete

Here is the finished piece. I’ll be bringing it inside in another hour to finish dying.

Quoting Peter Schjeldahl –  “Insiders used to gather at a vernissage—the term literally means varnishing—to watch sullen textures combust under the artist’s hand. It was a ritual transformation of private toil into public magic—or of matter into spirit, if one wanted to be moony about it.”





Artist with Still Life

Robert wired up The Song Remains The Same painting for me today and I asked him to take a commemorative photo. It’s not yet varnished, but who knows when I will have my photographer, the painting, and good light all on the same day again?

This is the equivalent of the photo of the victorious long distance runner crossing the finish line. All I need is a number pinned to my shirt, my arms in the air, and the theme from Rocky. Though in this case, the soundtrack was Kashmir, played in heavy rotation with When the Levee Breaks, Heartbreaker, Black Mountain Side, All My Love, Four Sticks, Yallah and Dazed and Confused.





This morning I put on my magnifying lens – bought from a jeweler’s supply – that clip on my glasses frame and can be flipped up or down.
Inline image 1
I use it for the super-fine detail work; in this case the faces and other fine points, like fingers and toes, on the Lovers card. I lightened the yellows on the sun and the god/dess, changed the violet of the cloud and added a few brighter strokes of red to the wings. I need to go back one last time and add the outlines back to the cloud.
After that I skipped around. Heightened the candle flames and the glow of the wax, worked across the nicked edge of the wooden chest, added a few strands to the yellow strings, plus a subtle line of white along the front edge of the sword. Settled in on the book spines, adding to the overall leather texture and the shadows where the binding is frayed.

That’s it. Back into the drying box she goes. After a few days in the box, I’ll hang it on the wall in the drying room. I’ll show it to a friend/artist next Thursday to see if there is anything I’ve missed. The only really noticeable change I am pondering is possibly painting out the middle feather. I think the painting might be better without it, but the jury is still out.

Decision made. Feather was tried, convicted and eliminated. I’ll need another layer of blues to remove all traces. but it’s already better, like there’s room to take a deeper breath. Editing is as important as what’s added.

Hand Forged Hardware & Feathers

Back in the studio, working on the hand-forged iron handles and lock. Those are mostly highlights on metal and shadows on wood, more implied than seen. They remind me of those elaborate lace collars in royal portraits that appear so intricate and detailed from a distance, but look like random dots and dashes and splotches up close. Very satisfying to paint.

I took out the scumbled layer behind the candles because it didn’t do what I wanted. I have another idea that I think will work better and will try as soon as the new layer of blue dries. Tweaked the sword blade and handle. Just touches of color, here and there, to give it more complexity. Messed around with the edges and texture of the feathers.

Left to do: a bit more on the edge of the chest, and the feathers need…something. Not sure what. Will be thinking about it this weekend. Spouse walked through this morning and said, “Is that still here?”  After he looked at it for a few minutes, he said I ought to push down an edge of one of the highlights about 1/8 of an inch. He was right – a fresh eye helps.

I have a drying room (formerly known as my son’s bedroom). It’s where I stash my supply of canvas, paintings back from a gallery show, paintings that are not on display because I can’t decide where to hang them (I’ve pretty much run out of wall space, but I swap things out), and paintings I’ve stalled out on.

There’s a picture rail molding with hanging rods  on all four walls that can support three or four paintings each. When I am working towards a show, this is where the paintings go as they are finished, or when I need to pause and think about them.

Oil paintings dry not through evaporation, but oxidation. To that end, after extensive research into best practices of other artists, I found DYI design on the internet (go Google). Robert built me a 30×40″ box made out of foamcore with reflective sides and spaces for ventilation. We added the lights and aluminum foil to any surface that didn’t reflect.

Robert also built a pair of shelving units that prop canvases upright for efficient storage and we put the drying cabinet on top of them.

Nearly done

Today I skipped around all over the canvas. I added the remaining red designs to the drapery, and a couple of dangling yellow threads. Finally did the squiggles and color changes to the map, along with a bit more shadowing. Added more texture to the brown leather books, and heightened the gold stamped designs.
Tidied up the edges of my signature and added a hint of shadow to edge of the frame that overlaps the Knight card. Did another round on the Lovers card – the man is complete and the woman is close.
Worked on the lettering of the ticket and may be at the limit of my capability there.
Started adding to the wood grain of the chest both along the top and across the chipped and dinged front edge.
The handles need quite a bit of work. Once those are done, it’s finished.

Bronze d’ore candelabra

Canvas was dry enough today to work on the candelabra. It won’t pop as much once the canvas is varnished and the dulled browns and blue go darker and velvety.

Scumbled a thin paint layer over the ticket with a dry brush to fade out the printing, and will go back over it to selectively heighten some letters. The patron’s name is part of the ticket and I really enjoyed finding that detail and painting his name there. It seemed very fitting that it should be on the canvas.

Some days shells, some days peanuts

Started painting as soon as it was light and it has been one of those rare, glorious, can’t-put-a brush-stroke-wrong days. Just in the zone.

Don’t know if it will show up on these jpgs, but here goes. Messed with the princess portrait, for what I hope is the last time. Added a warm glaze to the face, highlights in the hair, brightened the candles, sharpened the frame. Most fun; adding my signature to the frame, using a font called Kashmir.

I tackled all three feathers, and soon realized it meant working over the background blue. Went to town on that, especially adding hints of violet and teal behind the candles ( more visible in the last image than here), and cleaning up the pesky edges of the stars. The feathers will need one more round, but they are close.

I added a little outline of The Hermit figure from the tarot, more of a hint really.

While I up and out on the tightrope I knocked out the ticket. It’s not what I wish it was, but it is as good as I can make it. Reworking the angle of the lower left side helped. I’ll scumble over the text one more time.

I spent the last hour pushing the lights and darks on the swag of drapery over the portrait, adding the red-orange glow to the shadows. That’s candlelight showing through the fabric.

Off the the drying room for a few days.

What’s left to do? The map, pushing the brightness of the candle flames, details on the candelabra, more pattern on the drape, the faces of the Lovers on the card, and few touches to the iron handles.

The darks, especially earth based browns, have gone dull, as they do. Might do a layer of retrouch varnish before I proceed.






Swan Song S

This is a faint glimpse of the chalk sketch placing the pattern I’m inventing, using the capital S design from the Led Zeppeline Swan Song label

and here’s a wobbly shot of the first go at painting it.

I have a part of the Apollo logo planned, but keep going back and forth on whether to use it. Just printed out five variation on the Roman numerals I through IV, and will give that a go next.

It’s been a while since I updated here. From now until the second week of January, every week will feel like it’s an odd shape, either shorter than expected, and packed with social obligations and various festive opportunities. I’ll feel disoriented, right through the end of the year.


Busted out the smallest brushes and worked on details of the ticket. Not much to show for it, since I’ve wiped out the lettering three times so far. It’s a tricky angle and perspective. Got a little more done with the image on the ticket, and the Owain Glyndwr title of the book under the candelabra. Placed the Hebrew date on the Lovers Card along with a few tiny tweaks to the figures.

Added edges and shadows to the upright book titles.

Time to break for lunch. Afterwards I’ll either title the last book, or move to the feathers.

UPDATE – as is all too often the case, went with option C. After titling the final book, shaded each of the stars – a start on suggesting the embroidery.


Mix & Match

Few occupations are more meditative than mixing oil paint color. On left, the gray paper palette I use for mixing and on the right the results grouped and labeled for the various destinations on the canvas. That palette is already place in a box that will go into the freezer in between hours in the studio. Most of these colors are for a new sky/water painting, but the four at the bottom left are for the third round of (mostly scumbled) blues on the background of the commission.