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For Artists Interested in How Emil Carlsen Painted

Emilcarlsen.org receives numerous inquiries from artists interested in information on HOW EMIL CARLSEN PAINTED and his technique.  While I have written several answers that I have used, it is a complex answer.  But, many artist have found this discussion by the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington by its restorers enlightening:

It refers to the Corcoran Art Gallery painting The Picture from Thibet, c.1920 (one of his Asian works). It is an analysis from one of the restorers:

The support is a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric mounted on a replacement stretcher. The tacking margins have been retained.

Carlsen appears to have painted on an unprimed fabric; if any overall ground was applied, it soaked into the fabric and is now virtually invisible, even under magnification.

All the paint appears to have been mixed with white, so it is generally opaque. It was applied with much variation in thickness, ranging from thin layers that barely cover the texture of the open-weave canvas, to thickly-applied areas that mask the canvas texture and show the marks left by the brush. In a few places (in the tabletop, to the right of the cup, for example), the paint appears to have been intentionally rubbed or scraped by the artist, perhaps to give a livelier surface.

The artist began the painting by applying an ivory-colored paint over most of the fabric; the layer was thinly applied and barely covered the open-weave (and probably unprimed) fabric. The artist then used pencil and fine lines of blue paint to carefully draw in the design. Some passages of the patterned textile background were left at this stage, while other parts of the background received additional applications of paint, wet-into-wet. The still life objects were carried to a greater degree of finish and in these areas the paint is generally thicker and more blended than in the background. The artist appears to have intentionally rubbed some of the paint, perhaps to expose colors below. One or two small touches of pencil appear on top of the paint (at the edge of the cup and along the line of the table).

Under ultraviolet light greenish fluorescence in parts of the textile that acts as the background suggests the artist may have added some resin to his paint.

“He used a very small palette which was as highly polished as a violin, and the globs of paint that he squeezed on it were as uniform as the keys on a piano. He was a perfectionist in everything he did.” – Erwin Barrie, friend of Carlsen

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