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Some paintings are torture

Some paintings are torture to produce, others just seem to create themselves in record time. This is one of the latter.


Pandora      11×14        Acrylic on Yupo        $725

I had just finished a series of paintings based on my memories of New Zealand, each of which took a lot of time and effort. Looking back on them, I wasn’t happy.

Scheduled to meet with an artist friend of mine for our weekly critique session, I was concerned that I didn’t have anything to show her. With less than an hour to spare, I put out a piece of Yupo (plastic) paper, dug out my rubber wedge and a tube of Cad Red Medium and put the first strokes down. Tired of pretty pastel colors, I looked for something I thought wouldn’t go with the red … and pulled out a really old tube of Deep Magenta. With that down, I again looked for an unattractive color and picked Yellow Ochre. The only thing left was to add black and repeat some of the other colors to pull it all together.

Start to finish it took half an hour … and my friend loved it.

Of course, I then went to the League for my afternoon class and tried to do the magic again.  The result was awful.

Evolution of a Painting

My latest painting based on a recent trip to New Zealand went through several iterations before I decided it was finished.  This is my description of how Into the Light went from there to here: the evolution of a painting.

First, I painted the basic shapes of the trees and forest land in very pale colors.  I then added masking fluid where I wanted the light to shine through in the final painting.

Into the Light, Stage 1

Into the Light, Stage 1

Then I added more color to everything.  The tree trunks are starting to look purple (brown is boring).

Into the Light, Stage 2

Into the Light, Stage 2

Again and again I added more color, and then more masking. The next step is to peel off the masking fluid using a “Lift-off Tool (a fancy name for a rubber eraser) to see what is left to do.

Into the Light, Stage 3

Into the Light, Stage 3

The remains of the masking now become a sculpture (using the term creatively).

Masking Fluid "sculpture"

Masking Fluid “sculpture”

Finally, I intensify some colors, in some cases painting into the areas previously covered by the masking.  The process is very similar to what I used to do with watercolor.  In fact, I have thinned the acrylic to the point where it functions like watercolor (although it’s permanent once it dries).

Into the Light

Into the Light        12×16         Acrylic      $850

NOTE: This final image looks very much like the final painting.  The previous images are “browned” because I used my iPhone in the studio at the Art Students League.  In spite of this, I hope you can still get a good sense of how this painting evolved.