Sometimes a painting almost seems to come out of nowhere and touch all kinds of people. Other times, the process can be a lengthy, involved one. In this particular case, it’s a bit of both.
One night last summer I was chatting with a new friend and she happened to mention that she wanted a painting in hot pink . Further to that, she told me that she used to dance, and that she wanted art along that theme – feet and legs in pointe shoes. Time went by and we became much closer. But this idea stayed in my head. In November I drew a rough sketch of her legs and feet in the pointe shoes she’d had since she was a teenager. That original sketch has since been framed and now hangs on her living room wall:
By this point I could see the finished painting in my head pretty clearly. I started creating another of my metalflake paintings with the intention of giving it to her as a Christmas present. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the metalflake pieces take a lot longer to dry in mid-winter, because the shorter days and crappy weather mean a vastly-reduced amount of UV radiation (which speeds the drying process along).
In the end I bought her a Leonard Cohen book for Christmas, and the hot pink painting proceeded oh-so-slowly. A couple days ago I was inspecting the painting and noted that the thick, thick clearcoat was finally dry.
The end of this journey was finally in sight.
On Friday night I found myself at loose ends. I wanted to go do something social with friends, but any and all attempts to make that happen simply failed. So I mixed myself a strong Sailor Jerry’s & Coke, and started masking the painting. The whole process came together pretty quickly, and with the encouragement of my Muse, the painting was soon finished:
So there you have it – the painting was a labour of love, and it’s actually done.
Interestingly enough, I posted updates live on Twitter and then Facebook as the night progressed, and the response was stunning . So much support, so much praise, so many questions, so many people sharing the final image with friends and followers. So, I’d like to thank the people who made this so much easier: Meghan Low, Donna Jaggard, Kelly St-Laurent, Natalie Smith, Mandy Fisher, Nick Voikos, Mark Kretzschmar, Chris Hobrecker, Bruce Ng, Adé Win, Brandy Trudeau, Heather Prost, Liam Rines, Elaine Shiel, Leanne Corrigan, Tony Dunphy, Fiona Flowers, Nicole Crosby, Sean Parrack, Elizabeth Whalen, Jaime Purgavie, Melissa Hartfiel, Ceci Graber, Dale Deruiter, Vince Ng, Melissa Berg, John Lee, Dilara Litonjua, Cathy Browne, Risto Paalanen, Emily Brandt, Jackie McCaughan, Nick Routley, Amanda West, Christine Warner, Kathleen Ralph, Gary Hayden, Donna Jay-Crowe, Tina Power, Tom Van Hoose, Jackie Teel, Geoff Seymour, Winnie Huang, James Dickson, Marion Vincent, Sarah Merris, Katherine Bowes Pieters, Jewel Staite, Paulette Brown, John Bell …
… and Tess McCann, without whom this would never have even been conceivable.
12×24 inches, acrylic on canvas.
As you may or may not have noticed, Liquitex makes a few products that really float my boat. I’d be lost without their Pouring Medium (I’ve probably gone through three gallons of it so far this year), and they make the best palette knives I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.
But recently they’re stepped up their game in a couple areas. For one, they’ve got a new line of brushes aimed (primarily) at street artists called Liquitex Freestyle . As you can see from the link these are divided into two groups, the large-scale brushes and the more traditionally-sized ones. The first group is particularly innovative, and obviously the result of listening to what painters actually want. The paddle brush and the splatter brush are my faves so far.
The other product shown in the photo is Acrylic Inks. I’m doing a lot of glazing these days, and the inks are amazing in this capacity. Beyond that, they behave a lot like watercolours, but have the permanence and lightfastness of acrylics. That’s a winning combo in my book.
Now I just need to paint something huge…
So in case you’re wondering, January was all about the Dawn Patrol triptych. All the base colour work and glazing are done now; the next step will be building up coats of clear.
For you process junkies, this slideshow shows a bunch of macro texture shots:
If you dig paint as much as I do, you probably realize how easy it is to waste lots of it. I’m slowly getting better at judging how much paint to use when I’m mixing colours, but it’s still a tricky process. More frequently than I’d like, I end up with more than I need.
Occasionally I save it in a small container, and then forget about it – only to open it months later and find the paint is completely dry.
What I’ve ended up doing over the years is putting that leftover paint to more productive use in a couple of ongoing projects. Smearing the stuff onto a glass palette can come in handy – once you’ve got a nice thick layer of paint built up, you can peel it off and cut it into pieces to use in new paintings (trivia note: these are referred to as “paint skins”). You can do all sorts of cool stuff with them – building impressionistic colour, creating texture, making mosaics, etc. etc. Just google “acrylic paint skins” and you’ll find lots of articles and tutorials like this one .
I’ve also got a couple of long-term projects in the works using the leftover bits. Both of them started with me just innocently wiping my brush or knife on the nearest convenient surface. They’re still transitional pieces, and probably will be for a long time to come, but eventually they’ll be full-fledged works of art on their own.
The first is this former coffee mug:
A souvenir of my first advertising job, I still use it to clean my brushes. It’s gradually getting so coated in paint that the bigger brushes will barely fit into it. I also do a lot of colour experimentation on the surface of this thing. No idea where this will take me, but for now I just want to make it a lot wider (possibly even spherical) with a semi-lattice effect.
And the other piece is this old beach towel that I use as a drop cloth:
It’s still quite flexible now, but once it’s too stiff to roll up, I’ll mount it to some kind of support and make an actual painting out of it. I can almost see the design in my head, but not quite. My subconscious needs more time, I guess. I suspect there’ll be geometric shapes laid out in gold leaf on top of the final painted surface.
Kinda makes me wonder what else I could do with leftover paint.