13 August 2009

Abstract Painting, Acrylic on Canvas, 34 1/4" x 45 1/4", 2009.

I have been making drawings every night, or trying to anyway. Mostly, they get done while on the phone, or before bed if I have watched something totally unpleasant on TV. So out of about 30, this is the only one that I like. Someone commented that it looks like two birds.

But it doesn't look like anything to me, that is why I decided to use it as a preliminary drawing for abstract painting. It does have these images of leaves that I am obsessed with in drawings. I often think they look like I am drawing a part of the female body, and I then I get self-conscious about the drawing and I try to make it look like leaves, which is what I think I am doing. I mostly think it’s just a drawing of the olive branch. However, the sketch, is more like a leaf on the top of a blade of grass, which I have never seen in nature, that’s why I chose it for an abstract painting assignment.

I spent about 3 class sessions, that’s over 9 hours, experimenting with different materials as suggested by the T. Stanley. I tried crackle paste, absorbent ground, and a texture medium. I only really liked the absorbent ground. The crackle paste is pretty awesome, but I didn’t really like painting on top of it. The rest of the time I spent figuring out what color palette I wanted to use. I decided on copper, light moss green, periwinkle, brown, and purple. I even messed with the colors on colourlovers.com:

And I messed with some pattern designs also,

I assembled my canvas one day while having a conversation. I know better than to talk while I am working, as I am unable to talk and work, but I was in a talkative mood. Unfortunately, I wasted all of two hours because I put the canvas together wrong and had to spend a Saturday taking it apart and putting it back together.

During my first actual session with the absorbent ground covered canvas, I constructed what looked nothing like my sketch. I also added in an additional doodle taken from my class notes. I thought they might go together. But I didn’t want to think about it too much because, it seems anti-abstract to think about what I am doing.

I initially used a grease pencil and when I added water to the sketch, the pencil acted sort of like water color and created really dark, and deep lines that I immediately loved. However, none of those initial lines are still present.

Then, I started adding colors. I like to use synthetic bristle brushes and cheap Chinese bristle brushes that are either flat or round with lots of water.

I have started collecting glass jars from home to put my paint in, as I don’t like to waste any paint. And I don’t really like plastic, and I realize this is a big contradiction because acrylic is really plastic…but I prefer glass jars because they are air tight. Although, at times I can get careless about cleanup and then a jar will be unable to open, due to drips and such. I used to paint right out of the tub, but got the idea to use jars when I started mixing with gloss medium.

Absorbent ground really allows the paint to grab onto the canvas. It acts like nothing I know to compare it to.

After using all the colors in my carefully chosen palette, I decided to try others, like orange. I am not really fond of orange in paintings but I like the way that it breaks up space. I mostly ended up painting over the orange though, so it was really a waste of time. Sometimes I just add in random colors, and then cancel them out later. This can go on and on for hours. This is why I am not really fond of abstract painting. It’s like getting caught in my own algorithm.

The lab tech Fern took Teresa’s place in class on Thursday and suggested I take a 50 foot look at the work. We took it outside and scaled the stairs and looked at it. She was right, it gave me a whole new view and I was able to see that it needed a lot of black. I was avoiding using black. No real reason other than, black is a great value, it’s the best for almost everything. Black can become an addiction.

Source material
  • Bird field guide
  • Colourlovers.com
  • Dear Science, TV on the Radio.

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