Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Around the Bend"

24x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

I have this quandary in my paintings. My process is this: First I just have fun and scatter texture material (stucco patch or flexible gel or cloth or other stuff) hither and yon without thinking about where it goes. Well, not thinking much. I might try to put more texture here and less there, to add some variety and resting spaces for the eyes. After that I might let it dry, then I might scribble all over it with pens. Might not, though. Don't know. So, by adding stuff. or even using an old painting I never cottoned to, I build up a rich underpainting. In the second part of the process, I get focused on the painting and let it tell me what it needs. There might be wonderful passages that I want to keep or must let go of. I might remove some texture bits or add more. And it's always good to ask what you can do without; it makes for better paintings.

I like that I get to balance my child (first step) and adult (second step) selves in the painting. It's good.

So the quandary is that the painting foundation might be a complete lack of planning or thinking. Which seems a bit strange. The trouble is, when I make a plan, I create these self-conscious works that I don't like. So I'll stick with my process. I just feel surprised when I see that it's based on no planning or thinking.

And that shows up in this painting because the shapes are more squared off than is usual for me. So I must have made some straight lines in the texture underneath. It almost looks like an abstract city scape, really. But what I love most about it is that the central rectangle bends to the left. Buildings shouldn't do that.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Slippery Ice"

18x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This one contains pieces of an old bedsheet that wore out and tore, so it was no longer useful in normal life. So I glued it down. Then there were too many ridges, so I took my razor-blade-in-a-safety-handle (kids! never use razor blades without safety handles!) and cut away some of the sheet. I liked the rough edges, so I then put medium on the whole piece to protect it. 

There's another unusual thing about this piece, which is that it uses a metallic paint. I don't tend to use those, since they can get precious, but it wanted it here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Peeled Away"

24x30x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This is a another in my series of paintings that have fewer colors, and thus emphasize texture more. This one used to be a painting where I'd glued down old rags made out of T-shirts, then added other texture material such as patching compound and sand. Then I painted a figure over it. But the painting never spoke to me, so I peeled off (hence the title) the rags, used that as an undercoat, then added the fabric and mucked around until I was happy with it. 

By the way, peeling off is a great way to add interesting texture; it can result in surfaces that you couldn't create on your own. Mostly it's best to do it once the glue material (I use either white glue or gel) has hardened to the touch but has not cured. Often you'll pull off some of the original gesso, and sometimes you need to be careful or you'll tear the canvas. Not that that's necessarily bad, mind you...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"The Confused World"

30x40x1.5", mixed media on canvas

This painting, and the one in the immediate prior post, were accepted into the Santa Cruz Art League's juried multimedia show! It's called All Mixed Up. I am so honored! It feels like my paintings are going in a good direction, and I hope that this is proof.

For this one, I used an older painting of mine that was no longer working for me, although I love that bits of it show up here and there. Basecoats are crucial. I also added industrial foam (the stuff that electricians put behind outlets) to add texture. And I had been utterly drinking in the amazing work of Hannelore Baron, so I added fabric. By the way, Baron was amazing; you should look her up. Her work could make you cry.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"And the Walls Tumbled Down"

36x36x1.5", mixed media on canvas

I've gotten more and more into paintings that use fewer colors and that have a lot of texture. Fewer colors lets you focus on the texture, and actually seems to evoke emotions! I'm discovering that I love what happens when I add an element, then try to pull it off the canvas. It leaves the most beautiful detritus! And, to a certain extent, I'm returning to what I was doing a few years ago.

Now, the material in this painting is interesting. You might be able to tell that there's cardboard, and maybe Plaster of Paris + gauze off a roll. But there's also eggshell (those larger chips) and an old towel I found while hiking, that I applied and pulled off. There's also flexible patching material from the hardware store.

But, to me, the important thing is how this looks aged and crumbly, with a lot of richness. Yeah, I like it.

Friday, January 10, 2014


30x48x1.5", mixed media on canvas

As I've mentioned before, I have a painting process, which is to make a tremendous* mess on the canvas then resolve it. The mess is usually made up of texture materials from the hardware store (patching compound, stucco patch), maybe some paper or sand, and paint thrown hither and yon. This picture was surprisingly difficult, not to paint, but to figure out an approach. When I resolve the tremendous mess, I often look at the painting at different rotations. With this one, I kept turning and turning and turning it. I did some work in resolving the darks and lights. I added more paint texture. I saw various shapes, but I kept returning to a small face I saw, so I finally painted it. Suddenly, the face brought the whole work into focus.

* I like the word "tremendous" here. I used to say I'd make a "terrible mess," but, you know, it's really not terrible. So I looked for a colorful word that would express my effect on the canvas. And I thought of "tremendous." I like it. Today, at least. Could use some other word tomorrow, I suppose.