Final Layer

In the third layer of this image, I went mostly monochromatic. There are colors weaving through, but they have been knocked down with touches of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and sepia. The intense middle layer adds some further color variation, unfortunately this layer obscured more than I had intended.

The last layer is the opportunity to lock in chaotic color movement. It provides lots of latitude in the earlier stages when the last touches will sync it all together. It takes a daft touch. Too little and syncing doesn’t happen, in fact it only adds to the cacophony. Too much obscures previous layers and flattens the image. Just right and it’s a thing of beauty.

That didn’t happen ere unfortunately. The final wash was too heavy and opaque, resulting in a very monochromatic image with little variation.

It was not a failure however. The spectator image expanded to 3′ x 4.5′ has a presence to it unlike any others using this subject matter.


Second Layer

Logistically, each layer involves the same process as the first; an additional layer of masking followed by a new layer of watercolor. With each layer, the image will become more defined and darker. Those are a given. Otherwise there is flexibility and leaves room for variation. In this case, the second layer I blasted with intense color to counter the pastel underlay, which should create a smooth color blend. I also plan to tone the intensity down dramatically in the next layer with a more monochrome palette, so the intensity will take a big hit. If I kept the intensity low here, the final palette would probably be flatter than I want.

Studio 2012

My studio, 3/28/12

I have always been extremely lucky when it came to studio space. Since 1997, I have always managed to have a somewhat spacious area to work in. Rarely has the natural lighting been ideal, rarely have I had access to climate control and drinkable water, and rarely have I had the space that guaranteed complete privacy. Yet I have had a reasonably large area exclusively for painting for 15 years now. Last summer I moved my habit into the “Workhouse,” the residential home that I grew up in. It kind of sucked, I mean talk about loaded with memories at every corner. Still, as for space it is an embarrassment of riches; living room with a picture window coupled with the adjacent dining area provides plenty of wall and work space, 3 additional rooms that have become a “framing” room, a photo-shoot room, and a storage room to keep the rest of the place streamlined. Two-and-a-half bathrooms, a kitchen/bar, and a gas fireplace are the additional amenities that keep the place comfy. Don’t get me wrong though, I hate working there and hope to get out asap. It’s no-profile, it requires maintenance (like mowing), and I repeat, I grew up there so it’s a total emotional drag. However, the circumstances at the time required it, and I’m thankful to continue having a work space at all.

A couple weeks ago after taking digital slides of some newer work, it occurred to me that it may be better to move the actual painting space into what was at the time the photo room. I don’t know what I was thinking exactly, the space was a fraction of the living room/dining room area I was utilizing before. Regardless I moved the painting operation into the space while managing to keep the area clean and open, and snap! I had downsized beautifully into a space that for some reason was much more conducive to thinking and working.

Here it is in all it’s simple glory at about 3am, not unlike another better known studio space.

Piedmont Middle School Mural

Piedmont Mural Latex 8" x 22"

I noted before that I’ve been very busy with lots of side-projects lately. One of these projects was coordinating a mural for Albemarle Middle School. As part of a larger project to expose middle school kids to a variety of career options, I was given a group of about 10 students (the actual number varied over time) to produce a mural at the school over a 10 week period. I would meet with them once a week, and Mr. Ryan Howell at the school would work with them through the week to get the project done. Like the previous mural then, this was a sort of collaborative effort. The mural was finished Tuesday, and the unveiling was last night during a cap-off event for all of the career projects.

The theme was diversity and citizenship. After working with the kids on visual metaphors that support this theme, I took these elements and arranged them into a final composition. The kids then painted away. Like any long-term project, there were fits and starts (like losing four of my better painters to basketball practice). But it came together, was well received, and the kids dressed in their Sunday best seemed very proud of their efforts and posed in front of the mural like celebrities as the crowd took snapshots.

Rain Machine Video

In addition to the rain paintings and the machines on display tonight at the McColl Center for Visual Art closing house, I am including a video montage of the machines creating the paintings. Thanks for that idea, Rick. Anyway, a little out of context here, but I have posted the video to Youtube and present it here.

Untitled 2

Untitled 2 . Watercolor . 5' x 6'

This one is a little narrower than the previous clocking in at about 5′ x 6′ or thereabouts. This one came out better as a whole, but it lacks the interesting up-close details from yesterdays.

I would not call these a direction exactly. I mean, at this point I don’t see giant splashy non-objective watercolors as my future. This could change of course, but right now there is a lack of a cohesive formal arrangement in these. There a load of fun to do though, so take them as you will. But I’m driving at something with these, two works for the upcoming show on the 21st. A couple more of these and I’ll whip the final two out here. Hopefully they’ll be painted by then.

Untitled 1

Untitled 1

Part of the idea with the machine paintings is to create the conditions for the watercolor to be watercolor, to find it’s own path and create its own syntax. I have made a few attempts to apply this approach to the act of painting, where the paint is applied in slashes, strokes, splatters, etc. in patterns and forms to best facilitate the watercolors own will.

This is a heffer at 5 feet height by about 7 feet width. I utilized a paint roller for the largest strokes underneath, and tried drawing on the paper straight from the watercolor tube, then slashing through it with wet brushes. Some splattering for good measure, although I’ve never liked the results of that gimmick.

Artifact 2.1a

Artifact 2.1a

I think I originally assumed they would be light and airy, mostly stains rather than bold punches of color. This is one of the first ones from Rose, and it was close to my predictions. It’s worn and dirty, and the colors are mostly washed out like oil stains on a driveway. As I noted before changing a few factors like location and paints made a dramatic difference. Right now I’m captivated by the bold colors of the newer ones, but there is something to these murky ones making them distinct. They are haunting in a way not so with the others.

Mural Video

I’ve been intending on posting this for a while now. This is a video/slideshow presentation of the mural under development. Enjoy!

Painting Machine 3

Painting Machine 3

I finished this one last week but didn’t shoot it until today. Machine #3 uses a standard silkscreen suspended parallel to a stretched piece of paper beneath. In this image you’re about paper level, so you can’t really see it too well, but you can see the underside of the silkscreen from this angle. That black on the screen is actually an old print, so I obviously used a screen I had laying around. On the top side of the screen are various blobs of watercolor sitting and waiting for rain, which is predicted tomorrow.

The idea here is that the rain will saturate the silkscreen and moisten the watercolors. The screen is a fairly dense mesh, so it should hold the water until it builds up significantly by which time it should be well stained with the moistened watercolors. Then areas of the screen will reach critical mass and begin to drop wet colors onto the paper beneath. Where it will choose to drop is just natural random order.

In fact, this one has already been hit with rain. On the one hand, it was not PERFECTLY level, although it appeared to be, so the dyed water more or less ran to one side before building enough weight to drip through the screen. Not planned. However (this is the other hand) it did make a really soft interesting design on the paper. I’ll be pulling it tomorrow and post the results here, but frankly the subtlety may be too much to reproduce digitally. We’ll see.

For tomorrow, however, I hope to take Rick’s suggestion and record one of these babies in rainy action and post.