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I ask you to forgive the play on words for this blog title. I simply couldn't resist.
I was asked recently to use whatever skills I possess to paint a 'Muskoka Chair' with some fine art design, determined by me, for a charity auction whose purpose was to raise funds for our local hospital fund. I was delighted to accept.
A Muskoka Chair is what is called elsewhere an Adirondack Chair, and this one had a unique feature in that it folded up, offering a new painting challenge.
I had painted a chair some time ago for another fund raising auction,
but it was not the folding kind.
My time was extremely limited, so I completed this work in one day. The previous day had been used to prepare the surface, already sanded, with layers of Gesso, and then tinted Gesso, in a pale blue shade that was part of my design plan. I used acrylic paints, professional grade. I have seen on the internet that some have done chairs with Latex, but I chose this route.
Here you can see the first layer of white Gesso being applied.
The chair had to be completely covered in several coats and I tinted the final coat with Ultramarine blue mixed with some white, a touch of red, umber and Dioxazine Purple until it reached the desired hue.
Once the pale blue was applied over the entire chair and allowed to dry, I mixed a darker blue from several colours for the background of the heron, representing water and sky.
And now I moved on to the actual design.
The first step was to draw the position of the Great Blue Heron, my subject, on the back of the chair, so that the feet would rest on the seat of the chair when completed. We see these birds around here quite often, and they are much beloved around our many lakes.
I carefully laid in a dark under painting for the body of the bird that would show through where I needed, in shadows or feathers.
Once dried, I worked on the head and body, building up colours and layers to catch the unique shading of this beautiful bird.
Once I was satisfied with my completed painting, it was sent to be sealed before going on to the auction.
My recommendations for this project include being able to spend more time than one day with it. While a pleasure to plan and execute, it is at times awkward to paint certain areas and the artist has to be aware of all the nooks and crannies of the chair, and how it will appear folded.
To do the painting, I had the chair on a table, the better to reach areas without bending which would tire me much more quickly. Remember to let the chair dry completely and cure, even with acrylics, before the sealing process.
Here is the finished chair.
I was pleased with the result although I do prefer canvas or paper as a support. The design has to take into account the spaces between the slats of the chair, and some subjects would not work on such an interrupted surface.