Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Merican-Tastic!.  Many years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and see great artworks, classic sculptures, cultural ruins, architectural wonders, Florentian gelato-slingers (you had me at gelato...), Venetian glass-blowers (you had me at molten...), and Neopolitan 'Working Girls' (you had me at...well maybe not.).  One of the unofficial/'non-art' things that I saw -which kinda blew me away, were the ancient walls with all of their cracks and layers of paint and weathered posters, and......history.

On just a visual/textural level there were so many eloquent 'passages' on the walls, that many of them were works of art just waiting to be 'proclaimed' as such.  In addition to the crusty textural feel, another idea that I took from the walls was the layering of 'history' (one poster slapped on top of the next with little or no regard for what was underneath it).  Surely, the Etruscans weren't thinking 'Hey, we should make this road extra nifty because our next-door neighbors the Romans will like totally appreciate all of our extra effort when they take us over.'  Of course not, they built it for themselves.

What that translates to in regard to how I make alot of my work (especially the painted constructions) is that each layer I create is an entire composition.  Whenever possible, I try not to think of what the finished piece will be, or even how many layers of images I will eventually end up painting.  I also try -with varying degrees of success, not let my attachment to the previous layer affect my compositional decisions for the subsequent layers.  Basically, nothing is too precious that it can't be painted over.

My fellow artist/friend Terry Rathje has asked me on several occasions how often I paint over 'good bits' and shouldn't I save them, and does it bother me to do so.  My answers to those questions would be: I terrorize my good bits, they probably shouldn't be saved since I learn more working with/developing the 'bad bits', and it doesn't bother me if the final piece turns out to my liking.  If I don't like the 'final' piece, I usually let the canvas hang around for a year or two in the studio and then hit it with another layer.  Few things make a piece of work un-precious like tripping over it in your studio for a few years!

However, I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't say that I frequently paint over, or at least partially obscure, some nice passages and I wish I had a 'venue' to showcase those. 'Punching Holes in The Rah-Rah' is that venue.  Introducing: Tragecomedy In 3 Parts.....

Tragecomedy In 3 Parts is a triptych that I am developing for Merican-Tastic!  I am currently starting on the third layer of painting (image layer, white-out layer, and now more images).  These shots show you the line work, and then some close-ups so you can see the overall effect.  Feel free to set your brain to 'stun'....

The detail shot.

Next panel...

The detail shot.

The final panel.

The detail shot.

This whole mess needs to be 'colored in'.  Which has much more in common with a paint-by-numbers set with four colors, than the actual call-and-response process of painting.  My pieces are painted, they may or may not (based on individual definitions) be 'paintings'.

Anyway, each of these panels is also going to receive what I am calling a 'narrative panel' which will be a sculptural relief panel attached to the surface of the canvas.  Unlike the partially translucent layering of paint, these narrative panels will just outright obscure whatever lies underneath.  Que lastima! (My Spanish teachers would be so proud of me...).  The image above is the start of one of the narrative panels.  It is a long way from being complete, but I already have about 5 hours of time into fabricating just the one panel.

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