Evolution of a Painting

When a painting is completed I stand back and analyze it.   When observing, I begin to see flaws.   My mind starts a conversation: “Add another line; Change the colour;  Take the white and block out that section;  This is a crappy painting and not working, etc.”  Impulsively,  I take my brush and change a line, add another color, block out a specific section with white and then the finished work begins to shift and change – sometimes drastically.  The original painting which I thought was finished starts anew and I rework it until I think the second version is finished.  At this point the original intent of the painting usually gets buried in the revisions.   When getting into this state of going against the flow from my original intent, the painting usually torments me.   At this point I should throw it in the garbage but another voice tells me to continue because the painting could become successful.   In this post I share the evolution of a painting.  

Before I left my summer studio I took photos of tree barks and rock formations.  I wanted to shift from the lake, sky and trees as my backgrounds, to painting rocky crevices and bark-like formations that integrate the woven structures within their openings.   I drew an abstracted rock formation on my iPad in Procreate.   This study became my muse. 

The image of a rock formation that I drew in Procreate

I began the painting by adding plaster strips onto the canvas and then painted natural earthy tones onto the plaster surface after it had dried.  

Adding the plaster strips and the foundation colors. 

Then, I blocked in the holes and painted the gauze-like painted weaving in the background.  My goal was to weave the black lines within the fissures.  I wanted the audience to get a brief glimpse of the surrounding areas between the solid masses of rocks.       

Painting the open areas with the woven structure.  

After I blocked in the holes  and background colors, I decided it needed a light source going across the middle of the canvas.  

After the white was added, I saw the paint was too thickly applied, the white popping out too much, and the surface texture was not transparent so I calmed down the white.  I also removed some of the crevices.

Was I finished? I  did not like the white around the top middle area.  
My first finished version.  I liked the surface treatment and the copper woven lines.

I should have left the finished version alone and started another one.  At first I liked the painting and thought it was done but, after looking at it for a while, I started to have doubts.  The surface felt too flat, had no dimension and the woven area appeared not integrated.  Also, there was no spatial relationship between the solid mass and the background.  I liked the idea of a rocky crevice like surface but needed to expand that idea.    

Painted the surface again. 

The painting went through another revision.  The surface was painted again and I added black and brown diagonal lines because I felt the composition needed foreground elements.    I also took away some of the openings and added others.  What a mess at this point. 

Adding the tree branches across the surface to give it some movement and a foreground, middle ground and background.

 I felt the second version had more movement but it was too busy.  My eyes moved all over the place and the painting had no focus.  This painting just bothered me so I painted over it.   

Finished Painting #2

When I feel frustrated, I take white or black paint and squeeze it right onto the surface and then take a brush and paint the whole surface with white or black.  For my painting, I squeezed white paint right from the tube and included browns and blues.

Painted the surface again.  

 I continued defining the rock surfaces so that they had dimensionality, and blocked in the crevices.  The original intent was coming out from the painting.  Black woven lines were placed between the crevices.    This  version  I knew was finished.  It had a natural rocky surface treatment, the lines felt integrated.  I did not see anything that I wanted to fix.  It felt complete.  Now I just have to come up with a title.   

Final Painting:  Acrylic and Plaster on Canvas, 30″ X 30″




Using Acrylic Medium over the Winter

Winter is approaching and next week I will be closing my studio space for the next five months.  This time of year is depressing because I hate leaving.  I love the solitude, the stillness of the lake, the changing colors of the leaves, the sunrises and sunsets, etc.  Once the leaves are off the tress,  the snow arrives and the atmosphere at the lake is frigid.  So, it is time to move back to my warm condo.

In my condo I created a small  workspace in my utility room.  I added a piece of plywood on the top of my washing machine and dryer so now have an area to paint artworks.  Last year I tried painting in encaustic but had no way of diverting the fumes because that room has no windows.    Painting over the winter months with wax did not work so last week I decided to try my interlaced encaustic ideas in acrylic paint.

I decided to take a work that I did in encaustic and use that work as my starting point.  So, instead of using encaustic processes I would use acrylic paint.  I have not painted in acrylic for over three  years so it was a strange feeling going back to that medium.  I felt like a traitor leaving my wax for acrylic.  Using acrylic paint is so different.  The wax melts instantly and I can build up the surfaces to get a raised line.  I can take the surface down by scraping the surface or melting the wax with a heat gun.  Encaustic is so sculptural.  Using acrylic paint,  I discovered that I could paint wonderful flowing lines but then would accidentally smudge those lines so I need to be very careful when painting lines.  The surface is much flatter, not as translucent.  It is a different medium and not at all similar to using heated pigmented wax.

The following encaustic painting became my muse for the first acrylic painting on canvas.


The background sky was painted first.  I used very thin coats of acrylic paint and applied the paint in washes so that the layers became transparent.   Then I applied the lacing over the sky.



The gauze fabric did not have the movement that I was after so I decided to disrupt the bottom edge and add flowing lines.   I then  changed the colors from lighter to darker from the top to the bottom.  I really do like this acrylic version , 30″ X 30″, acrylic on canvas.