Hanna Woodring

Most Delicate Brushstrokes for Doilies


6,5 x 7,8 cm, 2 ½ x 3“

See how Hanna paints Doilies in Miniature:

“Ode to a Tankard“

7,8 x 6,5 cm / 3 x 2 ½“

The substrate I choose for my paintings is called clayboard and has a super smooth surface. It is a wood panel coated with absorbent clay. Except for watercolor, I don´t like to work on a surface that doesn´t allow for mistakes. With this material, I have gone so far as to scrape off half a painting in order to start that area over again. You can check out this product under I usually buy the 9” x 12” boards and know a furniture restorer who cuts it into various sizes appropriate for minis. (It comes in various stages of absorbency, for a variety of painting techniques. I find the absorbent variety takes too much oil out of the paint and makes it almost impossible to blend. Thin coats of retouch varnish bring it to the degree of absorbency I need.)

Because of the drying time involved with the layers of oil paint, I work on three or four paintings at a time.This makes it impossible to leave a still life set up for the entire time. I photograph them and make my sketches from that. Once a sketch is finished, I reduce it on the computer to fit the size and format of the board I will be using.I use Saral transfer paper (blue) and transfer the image to the board with a pointed metal tool. Once I have established the images with paint, the Saral transferimage can be easily removed with a bit of water and a soft brush.This must be completely removed, especially under the whites. It is much easier to remove than the traditional carbon paper.

I mix my colors on a small glass palate, 7” x 8½” and transfer small amounts to a tiny palette ½” x 2” in size. I work under a microscope. This tiny palette is then close enough to the area of the painting I am working on and makes it possible to see how much paint I have on my brush and how fine the point is. It is also helpful to see when the hairs of the brush start to curl up or develop split ends.

Before I start to paint, I cover part of the painting surface with a piece cut from a sheet of clear plastic. I affix that on each side with masking tape, making sure the plastic piece goes all the way to the edges. Once part of the surface is protected, I can double stick tape my tiny palette to the clear plasticin order to have it as close as possible to the working area. I cut the plastic sheet pieces in various sizes, depending on the area I am working on. Once one part of the painting is dry, it can be covered and I can work on another area. If I were to put my tiny palette with the double stickmasking tape directly on the surface of the painting, it would leave a gummi mess. In the throes of painting details in the middle of a painting, I have inadvertently placed my hand in the paint. Smearing that onto an area of a painting that is nearly finished, leads to more stress than I can deal with.

Once I have the image transferred, I start to paint the spaces behind the threads of the lace. Each space is a different shape and the more carefully I approach this phase, the easier it is later on. I print out an enlarged image of the lace and place it on a small easel in front of me to use as a reference for each space. The transferred image on the board just gives me an idea where each space is, not its actual shape and size. This is the most time-consuming part of the whole painting. Not every space can be perfectly painted, so if I need to correct part of a shape, a sharp pointed Exacto knife is the perfect tool to clean up the edges.
Once all the spaces have a coat of paint, the pattern of the lace is discernable. Then I fill in the background around the objects in the rest of the still life. At that point, I usually know whether or not want to continue with the painting. I never paint any other color behind the white of the board. White paint is very transparent and it would take too many coats of paint to cover any other color completely. This is the technique I use in Watercolor painting,it´slike leaving the white of the paper.
The next step is to paint the lace or fabric. I use the same color mixture over and over and just make it cooler or warmer, depending on the objects in the still life. For the lights, I start out with a mixture of white and black to make a gray. To that I add a touch of Yellow Ochre and more white. For the mid-tones, I use the gray plus Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna, plus a touch of Burnt Umber. For the darks, I add more Burnt Umber and another touch of black and a hint of Prussian Blue or Alizarin Crimson, depending on whether I want it warmer or cooler.

I mix at least 4 shades of this mixture and paint over the dark pattern I just found. I start where the shadows are darkest, then paint the next value and finally the lightest. Once the paint is on the surface, I can blend them to make a smooth transition. This is done in stages, moving from one shadow to the next. Some of the areas need several of coats of paint before theylook realistic.

Each coat of paint has to dry completely before the next coat can be applied.Thecolor is so transparent, that even with several coats of paint, I can find the pattern underneath it again. White takes a long time to dry and must be thoroughly dry before proceeding. After I am satisfied with the blending of the folds, I can go back and repaint my darkpattern“behind” the lace. That often takes a couple of coats, but since the pattern has already been found, the second and third coats go much faster.

The next phase isto work on the still life and the background. Even though the paint is dry, I still run the risk of accidently getting paint on it, so I make sure my plastic sheet pieces cover everything that is finished. Now it is just a matter of going back and forth with the various objects and the background. Even though they look black, the background colors are a series of colored glazes, warm or cool, depending on the objects in the painting. Painting the background color for the tankard was easy, painting around flowers is whole other challenge. The shelf edge and the tankard also needed several coats of paint and glazes.

Finally, some shadow coloris applied to the shelf where the lace hangs over the edge, giving it more dimension, and the final glazes for the tankard finish it off. Once the painting is completely dry, I sign it, coat it with varnish and it is ready to be framed.

In my everyday routine, I enjoy working crossword puzzles. Painting lace is also like working a puzzle and I am always fascinated to see how it comes out. I never get tired of working on them. Even though I have painted some of my favorite patterns over and over again, it is still a challenge, it doesn´t get any easier. There are days when I look at a painting and think, I will never try that one again, but after some time has gone by, Iset it up with another still life and give it another chance. It´s something like forgetting the pain of childbirth.

“Yellow Dahlias”

7,8 x 6,5 cm / 3 x 2 ½ “

“Small Milk Pail”

5,5 x 7,8 cm / 2 ¼ x 3″

“Biggi’s Lace”

7,8 x 5,5 cm / 3 x 2¼”

“Yellow Petunias”

7,8 x 6,5 cm / 3 x 2½ “

© Text, Art and Photography: Hanna Woodring

(c) Compilation: Marion Winter, 2020

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