A Facebook reader, Olga Mirovna, shared a link to a Russian blog post by Lena Lekseeva about a workshop Miguel did in Moscow, hosted by art_holdiays. Phew- that's a lot of proper nouns! I translated it (thank you Google!), and it's a good read. Most importantly, it provides a lot of really great process pics for us to dissect and extrapolate from. Just the sort of thing I was looking for in the previous blog post but didn't have access to. In truth- it didn't even exist, as the original post is just from a few days ago. But the internet can be a wonderful thing, and it has provided. So here we go!
Lets start with some pics of his palette and brushes-
Miguel didn't make a big fuss about his tools when I interviewed him- tools change over time, and I think a lot of artists don't like to feel "pinned down". I'm sure how he paints is always changing and shifting. Still, as a (literal) snapshot of a moment, I can see a few things- first is that the brushes jump a bit from really big (juicy, water-holding hakes for washes and pre-wetting the paper) to really relatively small (for his detail work), considering he often works on half-sheets. Second is that it looks like he has his share of synthetics- I think they might be Escodas?- and flats. On the art_holidays website, they also share Miguel's recommendation to bring brushes that are "elastic", rather than too soft.
I've found wet-into-wet work offers particular challenges, and the tools you use have to answer them. Keeping things appropriately and evenly moist when working on larger sheets is important, and not introducing too much water when you're working on details and edges is another issue. I can clearly imagine the synthetics helping him with control when he's working wet-in-wet (much like Joseph would often do!), since they hold (and therefore disperse) much less water. The flats (especially the large one) would be particularly useful, I would imagine, when he had to block out large shapes quickly.
It's also interesting to note how dry the mixtures on his palette are. He's painting wet into wet, his paintings are very soft, but he's not relying on super wet applications of paint to get those effects. The palette isn't soupy at all. Neither is he using a big, juicy, water-retaining mop to carry all the water for him. Instead, if you look at a photo like this-
...it seems pretty clear, if you note the buckling of the canvas, that he's pre-wetting the paper and then applying pigment. Why doesn't it just disperse everywhere? In my experience, if you wet a paper down with water like this and let it sit flat for a bit (so it looses the sheen), you can control your edges and yet the paper will still have a lot of moisture hidden inside of the fibers. This helps things stay wet much longer, so you can work the areas were you've painted with greater ease.
Still, its crazy to me how vertical his paper is! I've seen it in videos, but I've never seen anyone paint like this in real life. I've definitely not seen anyone retain the kind of control he does while using this kind of angle. I would imagine it's helped by the fact that he's not really doing washes with a bead- so no accidental drips down the length of the dry, vertical paper! I would never do a wash on a paper this vertical. Also, as noted before, his mixtures don't seem to be very wet. So, paint isn't running down the paper like crazy because he's controlling the amount of water he's applying.
As a side note, the class notes suggest Arches or Saunders 140 lb, so pretty normal stuff. He's also taping his painting down! I may have misunderstood his response when I asked him, as I thought he stapled and stretched his paper, or perhaps he's taping things down for the demo to save time. I'm not sure. Suggested pigments included the following-
Chinese White (Chinese white)
Black ivory (ivory black)
The darks are very dark (Prussian Blue!), and there are a lot of pretty opaque pigments- Chinese White, of course, but also Napes Yellow (which often includes some white), as well as Yellow Ochre... two pale valued opaque pigments.
Next up was a demo. For our benefit, they shared the photo that things stemmed from, as well as his quick tonal sketch. Lucky us!
Below we have the final image, and we can see some details. The first thing I notice is that when he started off the palms, the paper was wet. You can see how soft the edges are for some of them. Did he prewet the whole paper? I don't think so, since the edge for the ocean is hard. Did he just prewet the areas where the palms were going? Maybe. Or perhaps he prewet half the paper, to just above the horizon line. I'm not sure. After that, It's almost like two paintings- the palms up above, and the wet into wet image down below. Of course, being Miguel, we have a cute little cat and some birds adding movement.
In the demo below, it's quite interesting to see how much he changes the original photo. It's truly just a reference. It's also neat to see how he prewets the paper before doing the house, and yet then only focuses on that object- waiting until the paper dries a bit before he paints the sky and foreground. This would allow him to keep some hard edges. I just assumed he would have done it the other way- back and foreground first, building second. Perhaps his background is much darker in a variety of areas in this image, and painting it second here allows him to cut his edges more? It's hard to know if he pretty consistently paints one way or not, without seeing him do it a a few more times.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this post! I've had a number of people mention to me personally just how much they liked the last post on Miguel. How lucky we are that Lena wrote up her blog post on him from Russia! If you'd like to follow Miguel on Facebook, you can find him at mlinaresrios.art or on Instagram at miguellinaresrios :)