Making Day – Sat 18th May

For this making day I wanted to experiment with textures,
surfaces and ‘underwriting’ on stretched primed canvases and raw
canvas fabric. I decided to begin with using Polyfilla (or the
cheap DIY store brand equivalent) on stretched, primed canvases in
order for these to dry before painting them. I am using up the
remnants of the paint from my large, squared canvases (emulsion)
and intend to then try out varnishing on the top. I am using one
(currently) 20cm sq canvas and the others are all small 7cm sq
canvases and remnants of canvas fabric. On the larger canvas I
created filler (super smooth surface) stripes by using the filler
in between stripes of masking tape – note, don’t let this dry too
hard before you remove the tape otherwise it cracks and turns to
dust at the edges. This was EXTREMELY satisfying as a process and
the result (unpainted) is already very interesting and pleasing.
Because it has a slight edge, it already creates pattern and colour
on an otherwise blank canvas. It will be interesting to see how
this works when I add on the colour – because the edges will soften
slightly and dampen in with the overall colour. On the smaller
canvases I am experimenting with surface by adding smooth, raised,
peaked surfaces on the canvases. These are much harder to make
smooth because of the nature of their size – the central part dips
in and leaves a ‘rim’ where the stretcher is. I also wanted to try
to make raised edges on them (like a ski jump) but this has proved
difficult/impossible because the filler refuses to dry in my time
frame! I also wanted to try out underwriting with writing
implements and had a range of biros, ink pens and pencils to try
out. Oddly – considering the problems I had with the Xs on the
previous works, it was hard to make these show through the smaller
primed canvases or even the raw canvas. I cannot even guess why
this was. I used the same brand of pen as on the larger works, but
even the black one did not make much impact. Bizarrely the green
biro had the most impact on a blue coloured paint. Perhaps the
paints were thicker or dried quicker now it is warmer and had less
time to dissolve the ink? These tests can be seen in images 7-11.
Images 12-16 show the use of raw canvas with filler applied to it
and painted. I think these are interesting as they show how the
surface texture and colour appear to change according to the
direction of light. The changes are subtle, but important when
wanting to replicated a specific colour – basically improving this
is impossible unless the artist has full control over every element
in the environment: and even then, every viewer sees the colour
differently due to their physiology and life experiences (which can
forever affect the way you see/perceive colours from that
experience onwards – as discussed in the BBC prog Do You See What I
See that I have previously posted). Images 17 and 18 are really
quite exciting to me. The double striping – perpendicular to one
another – only occurs in certain lighting. When viewed from one
angle the texture completely disappears and all you see is colour.
At another angle – you can see the shadowed texture stripe as well
as the painted colour ones. The use of varnish is interesting, but
unpredictable… I know from my previous large canvases that the
varnish shows up darker on some colours of emulsion than others. So
in some cases they are shimmery and others they are clearly a
darker colour. When applied to the raw canvas (images 19-22) the
varnish creates a darker colour with no shimmer. But on the stripes
of filler, the colour is not affected, but a high gloss appears. I
find this small test really pleasing and would like to make a much
larger version of this. I think it is fascinating to be able to get
such varied colours from materials that are so neutral or
colourless. The mini canvases (images 23-6) have become of less
interest to me over time (i.e. a week after the making day as I
write this) than they were on the day. I think the creation of
texture (as in the pale duck egg canvas) has most value to me as a
disruptive device. By that I mean, something that would disrupt the
colour or apparent line of the stripes from different angles. I
suppose this is really reflective of how moods (and therefore
colours) are never static and solid. They flux and have nuances of
the solid state. Images 1-6 are the first canvas I tried. I am
annoyed with myself that I didn’t take a photo of the canvas before
I put the varnish on it to show how the stripes appear and
disappear according to the angle. I showed these by webcam to the
others on the making day and the stripes really did seem to
disappear – which I found unexpected and really pleasing. The
addition of the varnish on this colour was a real disappointment as
it does alter the colour from every angle – where all I wanted it
to do was to change the reflective quality of the surface from matt
to gloss. It will be interesting to try the same test with acrylic
paint – as this is already plasticised and should be less absorbent
than emulsion – and hopefully the colour should not change. But
this requires testing. Images 27-29 are a second canvas on which I
tried 2 striped layers of filler. I’m not really too sure how I
feel about these. The stripes/checks can’t disappear and reappear –
they are constant. So beyond it being a ‘pretty’ check texture, I
am not sure that they say very much. They certainly do not suggest
‘disruption’ in the way that I would like, because they are
constantly visible. The idea of disrupting the colours comes from
them being stable and static – and then the light/your viewpoint
changes and along comes something to disrupt that solid state of
colour (and therefore mood). I think they are more interesting in a
close-up photograph where I was impatient with the filler and tried
to dry it too quickly – therefore it has cracked and is rougher
than the others I tried.

Moving on

I feel that
I need to test acrylics in the same way as emulsion. How can I make
a super-flat surface? Can I make it matt? How does acrylic work
over filler? Does that change the colour/texture or does it remain
static as on primed canvas. How does varnish work over acrylic?

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One response to “Making Day – Sat 18th May

  1. Pingback: Leap of Faith… | Bec Broomhall·

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