remembering niki/first flowers/continuing work on parade 40/ what is wet into wet / by Philip Tarlow

3:20 PM update: here's what parade 40 looks like as i complete work on it today. i'm stopping a bit earlier than usual because i pooped out after getting only about 5 hours sleep last night. and just a reminder: the image is based on photos i shot about 8-10 years ago of a sidewalk artist in denver, making a version of what looks to be a rubens, using chalk. what amazing intention, knowing it will last at most 24-48 hours! she did a beautiful job, and i had no clue at the time that' this image would become part of my parade series.


an example of painting wet into wet, by 17th c. franz hals

wet into wet is a technique made possible with the introduction of oil painting by early netherlandish painters. also referred to as alla prima in italian, it refers to a technique in which layers of wet paint are applied into previous layers of wet paint before it has a chance to dry, so it means working fast. any area of today's painting where i wanted to use this technique had to be completed today. it allows you to blend the second layer applied into the first, creating a subtle transition otherwise unobtainable and not possible previously with egg tempera, which dries immediately.

ABOVE: is an example, where i'm first applying an off white color to the shirt, then working into it with mauve-ish shadows.

11:38am update: yesterday while stretching the canvas for parade 40, i noticed it was warping as i tightened the canvas by wetting the back. so i made a stupid move. knowing that i have tendonitis in my right forearm from stretching canvases before i got a pneumatic staple gun, i attempted to correct the warp by hammering in a wooden support, since i couldn't find the blick supports we ordered. i stressed out my forearm, and it woke me at 1 am. mikela gave me a gentle massage, which magically calmed it down enough for me to fall back asleep. her hands have healing powers. it's a long story; you'll just have to believe me.

on my 500 ft. walk to the studio, i noticed the first spring flowers just outside our house. we've been having stormy weather, with snow almost daily above 11,000 ft. so it's easy to forget we're well into spring.


and, before getting back to work, i wanted to remember my former mother-in-law, the late niki karagatsi, an extraordinary artist and human being. as you will read if you go to my story page, she and i were very close, and i learned a lot from her as a painter. aside from a few beautiful drawings, this is the only painting i have of hers, in gouache on paper, painted in paris in 1962. she had gone there so she could have a medical procedure. i couldn't avoid reflections in the glass, but it's appropriate that my reflection is present.

                      tailor shop in chania, crete   ca. 1972  gouache on paper