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.
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.
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.