Didier Navas, painter, painting teacher

WHITE CANVAS

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He places the canvas on the easel. In his makeshift studio in the garden, he seeks inspiration.

On two wooden benches, he puts a large cardboard box serving as a palette. He begins his canvas by always laying out his acrylic paints in the same order. He places each container on a white plastic garden table. When he has finished this first step, he looks at his great white canvas square. He grabs a broad brush, soaks it in a plastic bucket filled with water. In a dish, he quickly mixes brown, blue and white. With the resulting grey, he quickly daubs the canvas without worrying about drips. While this first layer dries, he looks at photograph of his subject, placed upon on a small stool. He seeks the best framing, cutting away the right, keeping to the left. And it is decided. It will be a subject using the length of his canvas. He likes large formats. He opted this time for a canvas fifty centimetres by one hundred and fifty centimetres. The base coat is now dry. Acrylic has the advantage of being coverable quickly. He knows where he's going now. This does not prevent last-minute changes. Equipped with a small brush he succinctly outlines the picture. The characters in the rain on a surface reflecting them. He does not want to copy. It would have no interest. He begins with the umbrellas of the figures in the foreground. He decides that the biggest will turn on a turquoise hue, the second orange. And suddenly everything up like magic. Purple appears in a second row followed by a soft green. He now attacks the characters. The tallest wearing a red sweater and ochre trousers. To harmonize he puts next to this a blue green and ultramarine blue. It makes for a sombre green under purple umbrella. He hesitates and tries turquoise trousers. Low down, the orange and yellow umbrella enforces bright pink with dark green. The furthest character wears a dark red sweater with purple blue trousers. At the same time he puts in the reflections letting the paint trail behind them. A short break. He stands back and looks at the first outline. He dwells on the sky; a uniform grey he is not satisfied with. He adds a powerful purple above the turquoise umbrella to let it sing out. He uses light blue between the characters to bring light. He stops his work. At this point he changes his paints. The acrylic palette is replaced with a tray of oils. These are also laid out in a well-defined order. And the work continues. It is mainly to strengthen the effects, to bring the flat areas of colour as if they were made of light. Reds are intense, deep purple bringing strong contrasts. The canvas is rough. It is a defect that can become a force for this portrait. He works with knives. Only. The roughness does not allow the knife to glide uniformly. It leaves the initial layer. The scraper knife both adds and removes paint. Very interesting effects appear that delight him. The morning went well. Three intense hours of work and fun. When he uses the knife, it's good. Among the odds and ends he steps back and contemplates his canvas. It vibrates with bright colours. He knows he has managed to transform the image he had in his head. The photo subject lying on his stool has not given much. It is only a pretext. What matters is the painting and the painting.

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Last edited: 04/10/2018