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Posts tagged ‘acrylics’

It’s been a struggle

This painting has had many iterations. I’ve thought it was finished twice before. It started as a reaction to the devastating forest fires in California and slowly morphed into a view of Mt. Etna, first on the left side of the painting, and then on the right. You could say it’s been a struggle.

First, the California fires …


True, it was mostly about the smoke and the red glow in the sky, but it needed a focus.

Next, Mt. Etna on the left …

Mt. Etna

That was better, but I still didn’t like the divisions in the sky.

So… finally …

Fading Light 24×30 Acrylic on raw canvas

Now, instead of just emphasizing the fiery sky, I beefed up the mountain on the right, pushed it back with the smoke and emphasized the fading light with the title.

It took two months start to final finish. What a struggle!

Fires are horribly fascinating

Red has never been my favorite color. But ever since my son told me about how the fires in California were making the air unbreathable … and ever since I saw the daytime photos of San Francisco with red skies … I’ve been painting red paintings. Fires are horribly fascinating.

My first attempt was also an experiment with using a lot of fluid acrylic on raw canvas and I named it Intense, because my feelings were and the painting was.

Intense 14×18

The intensity carried over into my next painting, Rage. All about the red sky, the air pollution, and my son and his family trying to breathe.

Rage 14×18

My next painting was my attempt to calm it down a little, to almost make it a beautiful sunset. Aglow is still mostly red, but not so violent.

Aglow 16×22

Finally, after hearing that the fires on the West coast seemed to be slowing down, I managed my most serene “fire” painting yet.

Blue Ridge 16×22

Blue Ridge started as a painting about the fire just barely visible atop distant mountains, something I visually remembered from a years ago trip to the Rockies. Somehow in the painting it became quieter, more peaceful.

Unfortunately, I haven’t banished the demons yet, because I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the fires and how I want to paint them. My next two, though as yet unfinished, are more red, more violent, less peaceful. The fires are still horribly fascinating.

Experiments are confusing

For the last few months I’ve been moving in and out of a variety of painting techniques: wet-on-wet on raw canvas, wet-on-dry on raw canvas, wet-on-wet on gessoed canvas, pure paint on gessoed canvas, watered down paint on gessoed canvas… I could go on, but I think it’s obvious why experiments are confusing.

Of course, I’ve been approaching this as an artist, not a scientist. I haven’t been trying something, then changing one variable and trying that, changing one more variable and trying that … and keeping scrupulous track of the results. In fact, the only track I’ve been keeping is looking back at what I’ve painted and trying to remember how I did it. And the answer isn’t always obvious, unfortunately.

But I’m an artist, not a scientist, so I think I’ll just continue with the experiments, maybe writing on the back notes about how I did whatever I did. Better than nothing.

So here are two very different experiments, and I happen to remember how I did them.

Blown 12×12

I started Blown by gessoing over a previously awful painting and leaving some texture in the brush strokes. After that dried, I wet the canvas with water and brushed in the basic colors with watered down acrylics. Once that dried, I intensified the colors with fluid acrylics (I recall being frustrated with the recults and thinking that next time I would use tube paint). Once that dried, I repeated the step with tube paint. And, finally, when that dried, I created the brush strokes for the wind using a very scraggley bristle brush (and watered down tube paint).

Many layers, a variety of techniques. I’m not sure how I should categorize it.

This next one is somewhat easier to categorize.

Intense 14×19

I simply squirted, poured and brushed wet (fluid or thinned with water) acrylic paint onto dry raw canvas (oops, after first laying down white paint thinned with water and letting it dry). I wanted to protect some of that white here and there, but there was too much paint swimming around. Tilting the canvas moved the paint around and I kept having to mop it up with paper towels around the edges.

As it dried (very slowly), I added yellow here and there. It was a labor of love with precious little control, which maybe reflects all the pictures of the California wildfires I’d been seeing. And there were certainly more variables than I initially thought.

The lack of control reminds me (a little) of some experiments I did a couple of years ago pouring fluid acrylics mixed with a pouring medium on gessoed canvas. The paintings then had a lot of hard edges, whereas this has none.

I’m glad I’m not a scientist. Trying to control for just one variable at a time would be difficult, not to mention boring. Somehow, even when I think I’m repeating an experiment, I end up changing more than one variable. Each painting is different, making its own, unique demands.

So it’s confusing. What else is new?

Playa Langosta Beach Colors

In the middle of the pandemic shut-down, waiting for raw canvases to arrive from Amazon and searching for something to do with my other gessoed canases, I keep thinking about my favorite Costa Rican beach, Playa Langosta, and more importantly, my favorite beach colors.

Turquoise, teals, all kinds of blues, yellows, ochers, burnt sienna … an embarassment of riches. And I’m tired of standard beach paintings; I want to do something more abstract, something focused on the colors.

Playa Langosta Acrylic on canvas 2020 11×14

Okay, so it’s not the best thing I’ll ever do, but it’s pointing me in the right direction (I hope). Beaches, sunsets … lots of memories and photos to work from. Anyway, I think I’ll do more of these. To be continued …

Japan is an inspiration

We came back from Japan on Oct. 6.  I t was a fabulous trip.  Japan is an inspiration.  Japan is organized, orderly, clean, pristine, everybody operating on the same page.  The subways are spotless and the opposite of New York, which is chaotic, dirty, disorganized.  People line up at the appropriate places (where the doors will open), wait until the people on the train get off, and then move into the train in a relaxed orderly fashion. No rushing, no crowding, no elbows, no pushing. Just calmly moving in and waiting for the doors to close. Amazing.

The toilets are equally amazing.  Like the subways and trains, they are clean (spotless), and without smells.  The signs are  in Japanese and sign language (pictures) telling you exactly what to do (or not). Simple, easy, painless, and odor free. My husband says that if you like to go to the bathroom, or you have to go often, Japan is the place to visit. He’s not kidding.

Meanwhile, as an artist, I’m impressed by the gardens, Mt. Fuji, the museums, modern and ancient art, marquetry, gold leaf art, the tea ceremony, shrines everywhere, ground minerals and glue making incredible paintings, noren (doorway hangings) designs, the way outside fire escapes are made architecturally interesting, thatched roof villages, the way narrow streets are somehow free of cars at night so people can easily walk from subway to restaurant to whatever, the harvest moon reflected in the river seen from the restaurant.  You name it, I’m impressed.

So I’ve started trying to paint some of my impressions.

First Mt. Fuji, the world-famous symbol of Japan.  We saw it from the highway and from the lake.

Mt. Fuji, my first painting after Japan

It’s clearly not exactly what Mt. Fuji looked like, but rather my impression.

Then, the flowers seen against the mossy ground in Ainokura.

Ainokura flowers, my first attempt

Ainokura flowers II










The same inspiration, very different paintings.

It’s Alive

As I continue to experiment with Golden Fluid Acrylics on Yupo, I learn that less is more (too much paint makes just for thick blobs), and spraying with water both before and while applying paint helps to move the paint around. I also learn that my lift out tool only works with full body (tube) acrylics, which is why you don’t see any of that effect here.

It's Alive

It’s Alive     7×11     $525

This made me think of a biology experiment run amok.  Date: 2015. Size: 7×11.  Price: $525.