I started working on “Oceanic” as a commission, along with a second canvas as a contingency. It can be difficult to specify commissioned work since I don’t paint pictures of things and my work involves directed random elements. The directed randomness – the elements I cannot precisely control – keep a certain looseness and naturalistic complexity in my paintings.
The background layers for Oceanic were painted by knifing color into the wet gesso. This approach creates flat layers of intense matte color (spreading) and soft raised textures (cutting into the gesso). There is usually some amount of mixing as the knife passes through different colors, but it’s more of a layering and pixelation effect than color blending.
I added some tinted gloss media drips and pours of color to the gesso layer and arrived at a work in progress with some potential.
Since this wasn’t the start the clients decided to proceed with, it was mine to finish as I pleased. I began adding to it a week before we decided on our pending move, and the finished work will be heading to WGBH for their annual art auction. They’re getting a van because of the size of pieces like this (60 x 40 inches). Here’s the final iteration. The milky white lines and textures will dry to a more transparent appearance in roughly a week.
And an update – it’s been several weeks, I have a new, high res photo where you can see the extruded textures fully dry. There are some detail images in the slideshow below the text. Giclee reproductions are also now available for Oceanic.
I worked with a series of translucent tinted glazes to keep a lot of the background peeking through. The ribbons and curves were created using tinted gel medium squeezed through a pastry bag and different cake decoration nozzles. This creates a number of interesting 3-d textures, which dry shiny and clear (translucent with zinc white in the mix). They end up looking like resin or like gummy worms. In some cases tinted transparent liquid medium was poured, using the extruded lines as a flow barrier. The medium pooled against the raised barriers and dried to form deep clear tinted pools with flecks of color and metal. The whitish circles are glass lenses to manipulate the light and simulate bubbles. The white medium under the lenses will be transparent and shiny when fully dry.