The making of “White on White”

A little over two weeks ago I pulled a canvas from storage and started my first painting in twenty-one months. My inspiration came from the Berkeley telephone poles I had been covering for more than five years in a series named “Typography Graveyard.”

The canvas was first covered with grocery shopping bag paper because of its strength, secured with medium gel, then a second layer of paper was applied. This application served to recreate the three-dimensional shapes that were captured in my photographs. Afterwards when the entire area was given another application of medium gel before everything was covered with gesso, including the underside of the exposed paper forms.

Now with the canvas surface prepared and ready for paint, the area was painted with three different shades of white acrylic paint, followed by one more application of acrylic colours so that I had the colourations I was after. A few days later it would receive a layer of oil paint, mixed with a high percentage of Winsor & Newton’s Liquin; this would function as a glaze and allow some of the acrylic painting to blend through, for a richer but still subtle colour range.

One of the features in this painting is how changing light within room affect the paintings surface. The many shadows that seem to come to life and chance the paintings appearance throughout the day. It is this added—not noticeable at first—nuance that turns a minimalistic painting into a contradiction of riches.

Stage one: covering the canvas with a layer of paper

Stage one: completed

Stage two, partial completion of the texture layer

Stage two: completed

Stage two: completed

Stage three: application of gesso

Stage three: me applying the gesso

Stage three: completed

Stage three: completed application of gesso

Stage four and five: completed application of two layers of acrylic paint.
What follows is stage six: a glazing with oil paints.

“White on White”
MM-O/C 36x48” (91.44 x 121.92 cm) 

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Guest David Savellano and the ECAA

El Cerrito Art Association attending members

Last month I attend El Cerrito Art Association’s first meeting of the year, which featured guest speaker David Savellano, it was also my first exposure to the ECAA group. The large room was filled to capacity and a large number of the audience brought along their sketchbook and paints to follow along.

ECAA Director, Charlotte Britton 

David Savellano demonstrated travel sketching techniques and pointing out that one does not need much in materials, because what is more important is to capture the random moments in nature or anywhere else one chooses or the inspiration leads one.

David favors urban settings that requires adaptability and above all great speed. This means that one must focus on the essentials and know what to eliminate since everything at best is temporary. By focusing on the important elements of a scene, ones art work reflects the energy of spontaneity in this particular art form of expression.

  • Other points of David’s presentation focused on composition and keeping people and environmental objects in relative measurement

  • When drawing people to create an outline and then cross hatch in the shadow areas and nothing more

  • To gather photo and magazine clippings of people for reference when ones sketch is incomplete

  • Limiting ones materials to a small folding metal palette with professional quality tubes paints; a #8 round synthetic and medium size squirrel quill mop brush; and a Moleskine Watercolour Notebook 8x5” inch; a small bottle for water

David with a finished demonstration sketch

David Savellano lives in the Bay Area and is a native Californian, he has earned signature membership in the National Watercolor Society (NWS) and the California Watercolor Association (CWA).

During the brief break, ECAA members look over David’s watercolours and notebooks

I regards to my last post, the painting in progress, “White on White” has been completed and I will share with you the various stages of progress very soon. Not wanting to lose the momentum with which I seem to have started the year, this Saturday I pulled a canvas that has been patiently waiting around since 2008 to receive due attention and giving its first coat of paint.

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