September 18, 2015

Pie – Day 17 Challenge Painting

There’s a point in painting when everything changes. Sometimes the change is gradual, sometimes it’s dramatic. Painting styles can only change and refine if the artist is willing to put in the work. I think of it as murdering a number of canvases in the process of learning.

I’m always learning. Every painting is a journey. Even the failures, like the one on day 2, contribute to future successes. Failure isn’t the end but more like a road sign or direction. Don’t go here; it’s not working.

Yesterday, I had no black canvas ready for a 12″x24″ painting. I had one white one left. A primed canvas needs 24 hours to cure so I couldn’t prime and paint. I just decided to work with what I had and boy did I have something cool.

Normally, I make all my own screen caps, or have them chosen for me specifically for painting. It’s incredibly rare for me to use someone else’s image. I don’t want to paint something someone else has painted. I don’t want to step on another creative’s toes. But I came across this image on Tumblr and I had to paint it. It’s intense and so very different from the images I work with.

 It was an art-changing experience for me, and I’m going to take what I learned and apply it to future work.

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I rarely work with the canvases turned this way. Everything about this piece was completely different from every other painting I’ve done so far. The colour palette, so much brighter and limited than normal. Working on white. Starting the piece with black paint. All so damn different. And so freeing.

As I worked with the colours, it quickly became obvious that they were going on like water colour. A medium I rarely work in because I like my paint opaque and layered. It also caused an issue where I couldn’t hide the initial drawing lines. They were coming through. This is interesting in the academic sense because it shows how different pigments behave differently. With white chalk on black canvas, the white tends to disappear. I can’t use workable fixative on it because it vanishes. And when I paint, it has a minor impact on the paint itself. With black, I didn’t initially use workable fix but found it contaminated the colours. I had to stop and spray the canvas to prevent that. Then the lines got darker.

I had a few options here: leave the lines or make an effort to paint over them. I chose to leave them and in the final you can see them poking through. This is yet another way this painting varied so much from my usual style and method.

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The yellows I work with tend towards the beige end of the spectrum. Naples Yellow is so deceiving in that it looks like baby poo (sorry it does!) on the palette and yet becomes so awesome on the canvas. It’s more opaque than most yellows as well, and so serves as a good base for a more translucent but brighter yellow. It’s also more forgiving and easier to hide when I refine strokes.

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I also worked with napthol red, cadmium yellow medium, magenta, burnt sienna and black. The white areas on the canvas I actually left unpainted. There’s also no under painting here at all. Just layers of final colours, refined as I went.

When I finished this painting, I felt changed. Not just because I had this hot guy staring at me for a couple of hours, but because the process and journey were so different. A year ago, I would never have touched a piece like this and now all I want is more.

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Acrylic on canvas

I’m currently in the midst of a 30 Paintings, 30 Days challenge! Follow along on Facebook,Twitter, and Tumblr to see the action as it happens. Want more info? You can check out the challenge here.