Norwegian painter Magne Myhren recently began a fascinating plein air project that involved finding the perfect scene before painting it 40 times. How far has he gone?
Via Magne Myhren:
I’ve done a lot of research to find the most perfect spot for this project. I wanted it to be reachable without using my car — due to my ecological and environmental views — though I guess I sometimes will find it necessary. I hope I will have stamina enough to keep cycling!
After hours and hours experimenting with different media, I’ve decided to use alkyd paint from CAS in conjunction with linseed oil and turpentine to extend the drying rate, as alkyd paint dries a bit too fast on its own. My first attempt here was only partly successful while I was only using Liquin together with the paint. (Liquin and alkyd paint have about the same drying rate.) The nearest part dried too quickly. Hence the linseed oil and turpentine. I like a few parts of the painting where the new paint picks up parts of the pre-painted areas. I hope I will be able to paint much bolder and faster while continuing the project!
This first painting is painted on a 30 x 30-cm. board grounded with rabbit skin glue and with ochre pigmentation. I’m not convinced that this will be the final solution. It might be better to paint with bigger brushes on 40 x 40 cm. and perhaps also on stretched and grounded paper.
I have chosen this alkyd-based media because it can withstand a shower and even freezing conditions. It also has the blending capabilities of traditional oil paint.
Why 40? It’s not possible for me to go out into the woods every Friday throughout a whole year. There will always be Fridays that are occupied with other obligations, so it cannot be 52.
In nature, there seem to be a mathematical formula of certain ratios — known as the Fibonacci sequence. You can find them in the numbers of petals on flowers, in the eyes of insects, in beehives, etc. I also found out that my squared paintings would fit nicely into this sequence at the number of 40. In arts, this is known as the “golden ratio” (1.618) — and it is said to describe perfectly pleasing relationships. At this point I don’t know whether it will be useful for my project or not, but I find it worth a try. Perhaps it will end up as an organizing formula for the final exhibition of the paintings!
So far, Myhren has completed 12 of her 40 paintings; you can follow his progress here.
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