Monday, August 06, 2012

The Paranoid Schizophrenia of Richard Dadd 1

Well that's the longest blog post title I've had in a while.

About a month ago, on July the 4th I decided to paint a painting I'd had in planning for years, and I decided to make a cabinet for it. I decided to make it in time for the Salon Art Prize, which has a deadline of the 25th of August. I knew it would be difficult to make that deadline. Here's a rundown of the process so far...

First I bought the wood for the doors and cut them. This was pine and cut into three identical frames that sandwich together so that I could fit glass inbetween. Two were made and placed onto a square picture frame that would hold the painting. These were lined up on day one and clamped down. The doors also had vertical metal bars which would become trees, conveying a forest and the prison windows of the insane asylum that confined Richard Dadd. Here it is at the end of the second day.

And a few days later when the glue had dried. This shows the general idea.

The hinges on my Love Reliquary last year were a bit ugly so I decided to style some (or make some, but that would have taken a while). I bought some large ones and cut them to shape. For the corners of the box I wanted to add an artistic element, so I decided to make some brass designs for those too. Here are the hinges.

Those were brass plated steel and hand cut with a jeweller's saw. The hard metal make these a lot of work and it took an hour at least for each edge.

Next came the most crucial part of all, the painting. Here was the idea sketch from about 2008-9.

The cabinet though required a square painting so I prepared the panel and began the composition process, starting with some photographed and modelled elements to use...

The composition proved to be very complicated, probably my most complicated and busy painting ever, closer to a Hieronymous Bosch than anything else I've painted. The drawing process took a week and transferring the underdrawing to the panel took about 10 hours, which is a good indicator of the painting work involved, about 10 days per painting layer.

Once the drawing was done I could use elements from the painting in the cabinet, so I designed and cut the brass corners.

Before this I also added the bark texture to those metal bars to make them look like long thin trees. I painted the cabinet black first because I thought that painting around the trees later would be difficult, but that was a mistake because the nice black finish was messed up badly by the Milliput I used for the trees.

Then I began to underpaint the picture, which took 7 days in the end. That part, at least, was straightforward. I began to wonder if the cabinet would be too small and unimpressive for the high quality painting because I loved the gigantic gold frame my tiger painting ended up in!

After that I did my best to clean up the black surface and repainted and revarnished the cabinet. And that is the stage we're at now. I have about twenty days left until the final deadline. Of course I'd like to finish a lot sooner AND I'd like to take more time on painting instead of rushing one layer. Decisions decisions! I won't rush. I'd rather miss the deadline than compromise quality.

Part two later...