I got super interested in texture after finishing this piece (on burlap) and am taking a different approach with this one (on linen, a super fine alternative to the heavy weave of burlap) which got under way at the same time (and is now also done).
First image is a study I did to see just how thick I could get with some acrylic gel and still get the texture of the burlap… second pick shows how physical this substance is. The drawing was a freestyle directly onto the canvas which I haven’t done in a while (and probably won’t repeat).
I also thought a lot about the idea of the composition and materials feeling Modernist and letting the palate- while still “retro”- harken to later in the 20th Century.
This one is based on the study in the first image, and is (sort of) a follow up to the last medium sized piece I did which, I think, demonstrates that stopping the compositions at the edge of the canvas is arbitrary and has a cropping effect that wasn’t adding to the work (and that conversely, a grouping of cubes/shapes implies dimension more strongly if you can see its outer “edge”). I did the composition drawing on a sheet of acetate so it could be oriented as it fit best (via projector) onto this piece of muslin, which will be the color of the grid lines. I am finding that I can still free-style drawings before starting to paint, giving myself the optionality to do some editing, and still have plenty of ability to make choices “in flight.”
The blocks have helped me realize that the way I was treating the edge of the canvas was sort of like cropping or masking something larger, and was completely arbitrary. So, I took an older sketch, transferred it to transparency, fired up the projector and started on this journey utilizing the color study that is the first image.
I’ve written, and talk, about the act of making choices- reacting to what happened previously- as a subject of my work. It’s occurred to me that this can include taking parts of a composition that I like the most and doing something new them.
The first image below was the original study to see what that approach might look like if I considered these selections to be distinct works, and also re-explore some notions I’ve had that edge of a rectangular canvas can be somewhat arbitrary for this compositional strategy. The middle piece is my first attempt at mounting one on panel, suspended off the wall to create shadows of the object that also relate to the cubes themselves.
More to come- I’ve got 4 other prior canvases stripped off their stretchers…
untitled, acrylic on canvas on board, 18″x23″, 2020
As I was working on the final stages of this piece, I solicited some input from George McKim, who offered a few suggestions in the form of edits to the image I sent him (the first image below). I hadn’t really paid attention before then to how both of our drawing/compositional strategies often had cubes in common. I suggested that his edits made me think we should try to work through the process of collaborating, and so the piece below began, in my studio.
Pretty excited to take this little study to scale.
I’ve been thinking more and more about how my paintings should perhaps have a bit more limited vocabulary (given how successful I feel like the last one I completed is), especially since I’m also experimenting with being more selective about which passages of my more… playful (IE less planned) painting ends up in a composition.
Also? The second image is effectively a study for the next painting that will follow this one!
So I started this piece thinking the logical next step to explore is using approaches from drawing to inform painting, particularly in my case, thinking about how to create more active dynamics between layers. To that end, I am mixing approaches- the drawing for this piece was done on acetate and projected, and I will be referencing a prior drawing (making note of how the layers interplayed to arrive at the final composition, and drafting notes- image- of how to transfer that to painting).
Also of note was how much the third photo resonated with my non-artist friends when I posted it on social media.
As I wrote in this article, I’ve been thinking back to some early work in this body a good bit, and fishing through past studies for inspiration. Decided to literally scale up the small painting pictured first below.
At the time I started this one, I was also thinking a lot about the question of composition in relation to how a work looks at, like, 2′ distance (which is where I am while I paint them). In the age of the Instagram feed, not sure which is more impactful- how a painting translates into a thumbnail for web viewing, or what its physical presence is like. Most people will only ever see the latter…
This piece also has lead to a collaboration that I’ll post more about as it develops. Final image above.
As I began to start on a new, small piece based on things I liked about the collage and drawing pictured first, I fired up the overhead transparency projector to transfer the drawing to a canvas. I did so with a yellow watercolor crayon and, while the visual impact is hard to pick up in the second image below, I was immediately drawn to the subtlety of the yellow cartoon on the beige, raw canvas. Some studies have ensued as a result, so stay tuned for more there.
Anyway, going with purple undertones and some taping, and using my surface to sketch a bit as well which is new… I’ve also been thinking a lot at the mark making in the fourth image.
Clearly this one has taken on a retro-’80s palette.