What a great response I got last month for showing how I created the painting Women’s March (yes, I finally named it). I thought I would give you another peek at the process of creating a recent painting titled Communities. My concept was to illustrate the importance of the communities in our lives.
All of us are part of not one, but many communities. These communities might include our workmates, church group, country of origin, weekend soccer team, or book club friends. We often share common interests, goals, or beliefs. No one person has the same community as another, yet we each rely on and are strengthened by our bonds with our communities. Imagine what could be accomplished if we brought all our communities together to work for a common goal that benefitted all?
Step 1: I started by incorporating some of the poured acrylic work that I’ve been exploring for the last six months. I poured a half a dozen puddles of paint with a few drops of silicone mixed in onto a large canvas. I tipped or spread (using a cake spatula) these poured paint mixtures. When dry, I carved out ring and circle shapes by painting over these puddles with an acidic, olive color.
Step 2: I printed coordinating papers using my Gelli Plate. I stamped and stenciled patterns on some of them and then cut out more ring and circle shapes. I collaged them onto the canvas.
Step 3: I added the large white areas by using a squeeze bottle of titanium white paint with Floetrol (a paint additive that helps paint flow more easily), creating these looping circles and large white areas. I eliminated the orange ring as it was too distracting.
Step 4: The painting lacked a full range of values, and the shapes just seemed to float on the canvas. So I added a darker green color to provide contrast and give the artwork a bit of weight at the bottom.
Step 5: Needing more edginess, I flipped the painting 180º putting the most substantial area at the top. This change created tension because the top elements now feel as though they might succumb to gravity at any moment. I repeated the dark green color in other areas for balance and movement. I added a very subtle dot pattern to the plain green background to break up this open space, then signed it. C’est fini!
After developing some small paintings, I needed to figure out how to expand these ideas to fit onto bigger canvases. I initially thought it would be as simple as copying the idea onto a bigger surface. But I’ve found that doesn’t really work. The artwork seems flat without the original energy and inspiration that created the original small artwork and the work is too simplistic once slavishly enlarged.
While pondering this problem, I stumbled across a Robert Burridge YouTube painting video, one of his “BobBlasts”, titled “Making a small painting BIGGER!”
. He had some excellent advice including:
• Scaling up my painting materials. Using larger brushes, bigger buckets of water, and larger sheets of collage materials.
• Standing up and using my whole body when I paint, not just my arms.
• Not trying to copy the small artwork, just using it as a compositional guide. Feeling free to add new elements and colors as I went along.
• Stopping to take stock of where the painting was at and determining what areas need to be simplified and reined in to maintain the integrity of my original composition.
I took Bob’s advice and created the painting “Construction Site”. It was fun and messy to make, and I manage to get paint all over myself and my studio. I did have to go back in and calm things down a bit at the end, but I love the energy and spontaneity of the final artwork.
I’ve been wanting to start a new collection of larger canvases for a solo show I have scheduled in April. But before jumping willy-nilly into it, I thought it would be helpful to decide the conceptual direction of the work.
Here, I created small paint sketches with slightly different ideas. I’ve got three different themes on this paper alone (a circle look, a looser abstract style, and a tighter organic look). Which direction do you think I should go?
For the most part, I don’t hang my own paintings in my home. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I see enough of my work during the day working in my studio and I really enjoy looking at other artists’ work when I’m home. However, I recently hung an encaustic painting of mine in our New York apartment. We have this large fuse box panel smack in the middle of the dining room. I couldn’t find a painting that fit those dimensions to cover it so I create one of my own, Composed of twenty-five 6″ x 6″ individual encaustic tiles. Encaustic paint is a blend of beeswax, damar crystals and oil painted in its melted state. The fun part about encaustic is its versatility. You can carve back into it, embed paper into it, transfer images onto it and more. I used these techniques in this painting.
“Circle in Science and Nature”, encaustic paint, paper, beads, fabric, transfers, and watercolor
Closeups of a few of the tiles:
In my abstract painting class, the assignment was to paint an abstracted view of the inside of my home. I chose the round glass lamps over my dining room as my subject. Every week, I was to push myself further, taking greater risks and abstracting the scene even more. Below is a photograph of my subject and the three progressive paintings I created using this photo as a starting point. I think my work got better and more layered and complex as the weeks went on. This is the value of working on a series, growing and improving the more familiar I became with the scene. I even incorporated the dining room screen into the last version.
Bubble Lamps, acrylic on canvas, 12″ x 16″
Creek Bed #1, acrylic on canvas, 16″ x 12″
Creek Bed #2, acrylic on panel, 12″ x 16″