Beginning with the test sheets,
I created test paintings of oil on paper.
The paper was primed with shellac to prevent oil seepage.
New tracings from our master tracing are created each time so the marks are fresh.
My first draft was a portrait of George on plain shellacked paper.
The lovely background is not noticed much in our original because the original bright green silk has faded to the colors of the background.
The background was created so that it appears a light is coming from behind George.
The draft on shellacked paper helped to fine tune the paint formulas.
Okay, I had a bit of fun at the end of the day giving him cat’s whiskers!
The original paint mixes when painted in the portrait draft were changed slightly.
Pasty face also taught me not to let the paint dry, but to mix shadings in the moment…
I painted the draft slowly, using a 50/50 galkyd/linseed mix to thin when needed.
The next four images were done in one day, so the shadings were created properly.
Adding the green that matched the silk…
A few final tweaks, and the first draft was completed, shown here against the original.
A second test was on green painted paper to work the colors again, over green.
Painting over a base of green changes methods just a bit;
the green tint bleeds through the paint. Green George gave us laughs as his eyes followed us everywhere; I was a bit sorry to have to finish him!
Working green George I became much more comfortable with the paint colors
and the techniques to create his likeness. His face needs to be a bit thinner and
his hair is a bit wildly curly still. Painting George has prompted me to review other
images of Washington, because really, while I am creating a likeness of the flag,
I am not a forger and have come to realize the painting will have my hand and strokes
no matter how I attempt to reproduce it. What I want is his eyes to look at you in the manner of the flag and his smile (which has degraded) to be accurate to his personality.
We tried to find the image the original makers used as a model but no luck so far…
We thought that they may have copied a famous painting.
Our research is leading us to believe the historic flag’s image was
an amalgamation of two or three images we’ve found.
If anyone has any further history we’ll be happy to share that in this post..
This has been an honor and adventure so far;
really nothing I’ve done to date has been quite like it.
I am not quite finished with this test
(hair, costume) but not sure that I will finish him; I’ve learned a good bit from
the paper tests and am now ready for the silk, next post!
To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.
©MPF Conservation. May be printed for your own use.
May be reposted if our url + copyright is used as reference.
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How different is silk from paper, in terms of what you have to do?
Both have to be primed for oil or the oil separates from the paint. As I am now painting on silk (not posted yet) I think the biggest is that it moves, even though it is primed — paper (unless very thin) is stable.
then of course as I get to the actual final flag silks, there is just the dang nervousness of making a mistake! Dripping oil paint is my biggest fear! NIGHTMARES!
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