Monday, March 18, 2019

Gathering Forces

24"x18" mixed media, acrylic on canvas.

Back to the gel medium and lightweight spackle for this one. There's no denying, this mixture is really my favorite for texturing. I applied the media after studying Kaethe Kollwitz's work, in particular, "The Carmagnole (Dance around the Guillotine)." Her composition shows a city scape with common folk dancing in the street in front of the guillotine. What made me connect with this particular piece of hers? The current events being driven by those in power in Washington D.C. (around the time of a certain controversial hearing conducted by a senate committee).

Once the media dried, however, I couldn't connect with what I had created. I couldn't tell what I was trying to communicate. So I turned the canvas 180 degrees and decided to paint it as if the thing were burning down. I did come to think of it as a gated structure being burned, with the fire starting in the streets. And I wondered about the toxicity of the smoke--that structure above the flames--sometimes it looks like a lioness, sometimes a gargoyle, sometimes Beethoven's head.

This painting has been finished for about 5 months, and it's still one of my favorites. Usually, my favorite is the one I'm working on now...

Ascension Descension Rumination

24"x12" mixed media with acrylic on canvas (and detail photo)

I was still experimenting with texturing media here, trying to decide to purchase more gesso or more gel, so, for this one, I mixed gesso with lightweight spackle, applied it to the canvas and used mark-making tools. After letting it dry, I was concerned that, since I had used so much spackle, the surface would be too absorbent and would crumble if I used a lot of water in my painting process, which I sometimes do. So I decided to cover the surface with gesso and applied it with a fake chamois cloth in order to avoid brush strokes on the surface. The result of adding a dark layer of paint first shows in the detail photo--an effect I rather like--the dark with the lighter colors applied on the top. The other idea I was playing with in this composition was the idea of vertical text on the left side of the painting--painted blue green. Whether it translates as text to the view or not would depend upon the viewer's experience with Asian art, maybe. Or I suppose it could be seen as some part of the structure or a form in the background. I was curious about the interaction between the forms above and a bit to the right of the staircase-like structure. And that was the impetus for the title. Are we going up together or down together, is strength being transmitted from one form to the other, is this communicating tension?

The Squiggle Effect

5"x5" acrylic on canvas. Playing with a rubber band ball that my cousin made and gave to me, I put paint on it--orange, black, and blue--and rolled it around the canvas. Then I put white on it and rolled it around, covering, in part, some of the previous color marks. Then I decided to have fun with black and brown fine point acrylic markers. In order to create dimension and movement, I worked off of and around some of the previous marks that were partially covered. Making the squiggle lines was so much fun that I had to stop myself before the canvas was completely covered with squiggles. Maybe next time, I won't stop. So stinkin' much fun! And this one can be turned depending upon what forms one wants to be able to see.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Maiden of Chi

24"x18" mixed media and acrylic paint on canvas

Still playing with texture building materials, I used Golden Coarse Molding Paste on this one. I also used sock store display hangers to create the down-pointing triangular shape and that shape to the far right on the bottom of the painting. I also came across fine point acrylic pens that required playing with. This provided the perfect opportunity for me to draw with acrylics, consequently, this painting includes drawings I've been doodling for ages during so many office meetings. The image on the bottom left is one that has been identified in ancient scripts as representing the Maiden of Chi.

I used gold gesso in the background and then decided to also use copper paint and quinacridone nickel/azo gold for in-between the horizontal lines. Of course, all of that makes this painting another that tricks the light for photographing. I am in love with the color combination. More blue-green in future paintings for sure.

Per Hypatia

24"x18" acrylic on canvas

Still playing with texture-making mediums, I used a thin layer of super heavy gesso spread onto this painting. I made the upper two-thirds of the painting a smoother layer of the heavy gesso. I made text-like marks using the wooden end of a paintbrush in the bottom third of the painting. I'm wanting to determine if I likes this surface for "written" marks. It was smooth writing and I was able to bring up the light when I needed.

For this painting, I was also working with the ideas of squares and circles--not really squaring the circle, but something like that--this led me on a search into mathematical grand questions, which led me to Hypatia, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, teacher, writer, murder victim. I wanted the upper image to represent motion, erosion, flow of the internal, and circular motion of the eternal. I used polystyrene packing shapes to stamp the gold parts and the black outlines. The use of gold gesso and quinacridone nickel/azo gold trick the camera so that it's a challenge to get a good representation. This was a fun painting to work.

The Stone's Throw

Triptych 15"x5" total (each is 5"x5") mixed media and acrylic on canvas

Still experimenting with mediums for creating texture, I mixed super heavy gesso with spackle. And I used a pretty cool looking rock for inspiration. It was about two inches in diameter and had the blue-green and rusty colors with white in it. The piece in the middle of this triptych had a little more spackle than gesso in the mix. I liked the texture for the way the marks turned out and the graininess, but if I had to rub the surface for manipulating the paint or bringing back the light in the composition, then the texture would also be compromised. It was a much more protected surface with more gesso in the mix--which the bottom canvas has. But in that one, the paint was accepted onto the surface differently: more spackle, more paint absorption and a more stone texture, too. I'm curious about the longevity of the mixed medium.

At the Cave Ruins

12"x12" acrylic on canvas

I am experimenting with acrylic mediums for creating textures. Since expense is an issue, I'm trying to decide, after the success of The World Split Open, if I should continue to use thickly applied gesso as my base for deep mark-making or if I should continue to use my gel/spackling mixture. Since I'm nearly out of both, I'm trying to decide whether to buy a gallon of gesso or a gallon of gel. And then, I discovered Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso--Yay. One more variable added into the decision-making mix. 
So I've used the super heavy gesso for the textural foundation in this piece. Mark-making in this medium sometimes created thin ridges that reminded me somewhat of a putty-like texture. Painting with washes was fine on this. I also found that I could scrub paint off of the top surface using my fake chamois. As a result, I found myself wondering if maybe I would purchase a gallon of the super heavy gesso.