I am a lover of carousels; this set was a pleasure to paint!
Jantzen Beach Carousel has so many gorgeous carousel horses!
I wanted to set up a series whereby someone could buy the set or just one,
and they would all work together or alone,
changing only slightly with each horse or set of horses.
I’ve been calling this the Chinese Water Serpent Horse.
I began with a sketch in pencil, really, three sketches,
loosely sitting on bits of paper, as all of these pieces will be done as collages.
Graphically, the background of a greyed image evoking an old photograph ties them.
I want a version in all the carousel pieces, plus a detail of some aspect of the horses,
and the horse itself. The layout takes time; I play with it.
It is important for me to lay in the background color of the carousel in a
waterproof ink wash before coming to this horse, which happens to be quite grey.
For this I use the technique called grisaille underpainting,
using layers of waterproof grey ink in both line and wash.
The background sets the tone, and I don’t want it overpowering;
I want it to evoke an older time. By using the same grey value ink, I can guarantee
(as much as there are any guarantees in this crazy medium) that the inked carousel background will stay looking the same from image to image in the series.
Layering the final colors begins, though some of these will also be “underpainting”
colors. This is always tricky for me, because of my background in acrylics.
I have to be careful not to rush the process, let it dry completely,
and not to layer too much or it gets muddy.
At this point the grey of the horse began to bother me against the grey background.
The horse I was looking at, often in bits and pieces, appeared to be grey or blue.
I added a very pale wash of Paynes Grey + Prussian blue + Lapis —
which I might use to create a moody night sky —
and it did the trick, pulling the horse forward while not competing with the other colors.
All bits of masking fluid were removed, and final details finalized.
OOOOPS, the real background, that which he stands on and sky and earth —
I forgot to start with that!!! Now I had to be sooooo careful!
These images are donated to
raise money for Restore Oregon at the
Restoration Celebration, November 11th, 2016.
C.W. Parker built his first Carousel in 1896.
Although built in Abilene, Kansas, it spent its first years on the Venice Beach Pier, from 1921 to 1928,
when it was relocated to North Portland’s
Hayden Island with the opening of Jantzen Beach Amusement Park in 1928. The Carousel was listed, then dropped from the National Register of Historic Places, but is eligible for relisting again. Fun fact:
Carousels were once called “Carry Us Alls.”
Restore Oregon’s page on the Jantzen Beach Carousel has a running list of updates on
the carousel, but I found a couple of other pages that really delighted: Carousel History, Friends of Portland Wooden Carousels (also talks about the false rumors…), a general history of the Jantzen Beach Park from pdxhistory, and the page on the ghost children!
Cold Press watercolor paper, with a Pentalic 2B woodless pencil,
Lamy Al-Star and Pilot Parallel pen with De Atramentis Document black ink
and Platinum Carbon pen with Platinum Carbon ink;
White Uniball Signo pen, Fineline Masking;
Sennelier, Holbein, QoR, M.Graham, and Daniel Smith watercolors.
©D. Katie Powell.
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