Split decision

In the midst of our journey through the winter season, I begin my exit, leaving behind but not forgetting the last couple of months of contemplation and melancholy, when I begin to think about creating art. With the last coat of satin varnish having been applied, I am ready to share a painting, whose canvas surface first underwent distressing.

When I first wrote about applying newsprint to a canvas and then distressing the surface, I had yet to finish such a painting, even though I had proceeded to work on a smaller canvas with a drawing, then painting a winter squash. It remains unfinished because I still need to resolve a visual problem before proceeding.

Unfinished, 12 x 12” (30.48 x 30.48 cm)

For a little more than two months the desire to paint has stirred deep within, however too many distractions cautioned me to curb those urges. However, a couple of weeks ago I was visiting my friend Ian’s blog Abstract Minimalism, it became even more difficult to resist those urges to paint. Ian had just posted Fired Earth, an acrylic multi-medium painting on newsprint. As I left a comment, I noted, “. . . where is the text of the newsprint?” When the comment was left on his blog, I was seeing his painting as if I had painted it and not Ian. I returned a few hours later and correcting my observations with a follow-up comment.

Fired Earth
Ian Foster, mixed medium, 24 x 24” (60.96 x 60.96 cm) 2010

If it were my painting, I would have revealed the newsprint and with that said, I could no longer curb those urges not to paint. On January 30, a canvas was pulled from storage, one already with five layers of gesso and sides covered with painter’s masking tape.

The canvas was covered with several layers of carefully selected pieces of newsprint, secured with medium gel and once completely dried, was sanded to achieve specific effects of distressing and blending of the images and type. This process was repeated an additional three times and between the layers, only portions of the surface was covered with new pieces of newsprint and then sanded, leaving selected sections untouched. Once the last layer was applied, the entire canvas surface was lightly sanded using a 150 grit sandpaper before being temporarily sealed with medium gel.

Close-up of the finished newsprint layer

During the process of applying the newsprint, several ideas were going through my mind; in the end it was important to keep it simple, minimalist but complex. This contradiction would be achieved by selecting only two colours, Burnt Umber and deep Cadmium Yellow, and then applied in multiple layers through glazing, thereby achieving a rich depth.

After two layers of glazing

Because the newsprint was sealed, it now needed to be lightly sanded in order for the paint to adhere. Using painter’s masking tape to seal off the area that was to later receive the deep Cadmium Yellow, the first layer of Burnt Umber was then applied. It was a mixed with glazing medium and a little bit of water and brushed on evenly, using a one and a half inch glazing brush. Because I was now using acrylic paints and not oils with Liquin, I was able to apply a second coat a few hours later that first day.

Close-up of the sanded area after the first two layers of glazing

The following day I tried something new, I began sanding a portion of the painted area, removing some of the Burnt Sienna and revealing more of the newsprint, rather then having the entire area evenly covered with paint. Doing so would allow sections of the finished painting to show more of the newsprint than in other areas of canvas. After adding coats four and five glaze, I repeated the lightly sanding the previous same area, while expanding into another section of the canvas for a little variety. With no further sanding to the Burnt Umber, another ten layers were applied over the next two days, allowing about two hours of drying time between each coating.

After four layers of glaze

Though I consider myself a methodical thinking painter, working out as many issues mentally in advance before starting to paint, I continued to analyze the process after each application of a glaze in order to adjust any technical aspects or even shift the initial direction the paintings outcome.

After the initial fourth application of glaze, I decided to adjust the mixture of the medium by omitting water from the combination. The water had caused the colour to dilute, something I did not want. I decided to use pouring medium, which kept the colours tone intact, but increased fluidness. This brought about a considerable shift in the colours depth and finally produced the results I had initially wanted.

After fourteen layers of glaze and a satin finish

Because of the heavy coat of satin varnish, I felt it best to let the painting dry for two days, since I would need to use painter’s tape to seal of portions of the area in order to obtain a perfect straight line where the two colours merged.

When I applied the mixture of deep Cadmium Yellow with the same approximate ratios of paint, glazing medium and pouring medium, the depth of the Cadmium Yellow seemed to evaporate. It was not until about seven coats that I was beginning to achieve some depth of colour. Adding more paint would only cause the translucency to become clouded, so I simply continued applying more layers after each one had dried for two hours.

After fifteen layers of cadmium yellow deep glaze

With fifteen layers of glaze, I decided that a little more drastic measures were needed in order to have a little more depth to the colour. The decision was that the final two coats of deep Cadmium Yellow would have the equivalent value of 6 layers each, meaning they were poured on as to be having the colour applied with a brush.

A larger quantity was mixed and poured onto the surface with little intervention of a brush, other than to help evenly spread the mixture. This had a more than pleasing appearance I had not anticipated, it produced a surface effect one sees on the hood of a brand new car. The depth, shine, and high gloss dominated the painting in contrast to the larger section with a satin finish and darker colour.
I never thought of having one section of a geometrical abstract painting be gloss and another part with a satin finish, but seeing the interaction between the two and the visual effect it generated, it is an idea I plan to include as part of the composition in a future painting.

Split decision
Acrylic on newsprint/canvas, 20 x24” (50.80 x 60.96 cm) February 8, 2010

As I bring this posting to a close, I regret to inform you that my on-line activities will be significantly be curtailed for the next unforeseeable future, because my Macintosh laptop has broken down. It has served with valor and distinction for many years.

Though it was repaired thirteen months ago, I cannot justify the expense of another repair or the purchase of a replacement, considering my jobless situation.

I hope that you my dear follower will understand when my visit to your site are not as frequent as I would like them to be.



Anonymous said...

Dear Egmont, This is ABSOLUTELY fascinating, sharing with you the entire thought processes and analysis of the construction [if that is the correct term - most likely not] of a painting, the end result of which I hugely admire. Thank you for this insight into the mind of an artist at work.

I am sorry to learn of your computer problems. I do hope that we shall not lose touch.

Protege said...

I really enjoyed reading about the process of the creation of your art piece. Often we only get to see the product and maybe are presented with a short description, but it is entirely different experience to actually follow your train of thoughts and your ideas during the creation.
A very interesting post.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend,

neva gagliano said...

hmmmmmmmm...the DISTRESSful computer glitch. i prefer the DISTRESSed newsprint process! amazing the amount of time and materials in all those layers and glazes.
and i just noticed the painting 101 series of yours, which i will study, thank you very much. i'm LEARNING. i'm :"musing over your artistic" endeavors and lessons!
we'll ask the computer god headquarters to help bring a new machine back into your life.
keep painting== then SELL them, and BUY= a MAC, and continue to stimulate all of your readers AND the economy.
all the best. spring is in the air.

Susan Deborah said...

Dear Egmont:

The different stages of the creation was interesting to behold. You know what: In every stage, the piece looked very complete to me. Perhaps I am not quite aware of the process but then it is no excuse for appreciation.

The journey leading to the finale was quite engaging. I almost was there in your mind visualising every aspect.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Joy and peace,

P.S: Hope your Macintosh is well and kicking so that the posts are churned out for us.

LemonyRenee' said...

Egmont, I find the piece mesmerizing. I really enjoyed reading about your process; the mind of an artist is always fascinating to try and follow.

I am distressed to read that you will not be present with the same frequency. I have enjoyed getting to know you recently.

Ange said...

Egmont that was so wonderfully informative and interesting. It is fascinating to see the process and arrive at the final product with you. You have inspired me to go and get my glazes out right away!!
What a bother about your MAC. On the bright side - you will have more time for painting. We need to hold an international exhibition for you and get you some buyers - so you can replace your computer ;-) Affectionately...

Ian Foster said...

Thank you for your informative and instructive post, I am pleased that my painting 'Fired Earth' motivated you to produce this painting. It is sad to learn of the demise of your laptop, I think Neva's idea is excellent, sell the painting and buy a new laptop; easier said than done I know. Ian

layers said...

my goodness- lots and lots of layers and textures - but what a big payoff.


thank you so much for allowing us to follow along as you created this incredible piece - for some time i have toyed with the idea of using newspaper on canvas, too! so your post is especially meaningful to me! what a journey your creation took! i simply can't tell you how appreciative i am to have been allowed in your studio as you completed it!

about your computer, just several weeks ago my desktop was eaten by a trojan and/or some other virus[es] - and, given my own financial status just made matters worse - anyway, i managed to get mine repaired and am back up now - but i do so empathize when something like that happens -

so will be keeping my fingers crossed for you, egmont!

S. Etole said...

I hope your computer problems will soon be solved ... your thought processes and work are greatly appreciated

Teri said...

Egmont--So then, your painting ended looking similar to "Fired Earth" in the end? The squash painting and the second are two different paintings, right? I hope that your computer gets fixed. I will send out wishes for a new computer to land on your doorstep. It is so!

Eva said...

We are fortunate to be able to join you in your creative process. Often, for me, the the journey is more than the destination, which in the end if you had covered the newspaper entirely as you friend Ian did, it would not have mattered. The magical mystery of the covered paper would be yours.

I'm sorry to hear about your mac.I was never able to afford one so I bought pc's. Now I own four or five. Because of their price I've been able to upgrade over the years. I can't imagine my life without my computers.Hopefully one will show up when you least expect it.

Margaret Ryall said...

I've used this text as the first layer of many of my paintings and I've glazed but never to the extent that you have. Interesting, I also love the title of the work.

Stan Kurth said...

Nice work. I love the contradiction of complex minimalism. The subtle transparency works wonderfully! Great documentation I might add.

Maggie Neale said...

Dear Egmont, Such a thoughtful process post, interesting title, and sad news about the ailing computer. if only you could trade a painting for a computer. Hope it all works out for you.

rivergardenstudio said...

dear Egmont... this post is fascinating, all the steps, the layers and then the color. wow. now I need to paint, you have inspired me! roxanne

Seth said...

So fascinating to see the step by step process of both your painting and your thoughs here. I love to see how other artists work. The final painting is a simple stunner!

La Dolce Vita said...

My Dear Egmont,

Thank you for sharing your process with us, it is always so nice to learn from others. I am sorry to hear that you won't be visiting as often and I wish greater prosperity for you so that you will be able to do whatever your heart desires.
many blessings,

Betty said...

Dear Egmont , Thanks so much for sharing your process with us all.
You're just a great artist.
Missed you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Egmont,
I don't know how it is that I haven't seen this particular blog of yours- but now that I've found it- I'll have a look around and read and view in awe.
I think what I like the most about your painting is that the title has no reflection whatsoever on the process- or perhaps it is simply a whole lot of split decisions in coming to the final conclusion.
Either way- it is beautifully executed and manipulated- and clearly your vision was realized.
I'm sorry your poor laptop bit the dust- but I'm glad for you that now you can reevaluate your time commitments and priorities- and continue to act upon your recent upsurge in painting energy.
With warmth and friendship,

Jeanne said...

I enjoyed reading this post and observing the process. I love working with textures and newspaper is a great medium. I once had a fascination with sand. I was living in Sydney at the time...the sand their is heavier than what I was use to on the east coast of the USA. The net result is that I have a few very heavy canvases..but I do enjoy them. I am sorry to hear about your Mac..hope something comes into fruition for you in the near future. Until then....happy creating!

SamArtDog said...

Hi Egmont,
I am number 22 and follow a list of 21 other souls here who have several important things in common: we are all fascinated by your blog and admire your art, we're refreshed by your thoughtfulness and appreciate your expression of it, and we understand the essential contribution you make to a better world.
Somehow, you will get another Mac. It will come to you because some things simply must be. Have faith.

Jala Pfaff said...

Absolutely fantastic painting and thank you also for the description of the process.

Laura Hegfield said...

Wonderful painting and detailed description of your process Egmont. We will miss you...but trust you will be back soon.

Gaby Bee said...

Your painting is absolutely gorgeous, Egmont! All the layering is wonderful! Thanks for sharing the detailed step by step process with us.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Hugs, Gaby

Celeste Bergin said...

Egmont..this is a fantastic with what is hidden within it's layers--like people, really. I am sending up positive thoughts for a new computer for you--we can't do without you.

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

First of all dear Egmont, your visits are well worth waiting for!

This is a fascinating and enlightening post. Thank you very much for taking us through your creative process and more!

Take care!

Dorothy said...

This was so interesting and fascinating to see the process and the finished product.

Dorothy from grammology