Friday, March 11, 2011

Third Eye Blind

A lot of the time I feel like I'm just trying to get by.  A lot of people look at me and assume I'm really angry.  Trying to paint this was a challenge.

I started with my Driver's license photo.  Then I asked myself what would illustrate some of my inner life.  For some reason, the answer involved wasps.

So I mixed it up on the computer (since that's how I like to compose.)

I wanted to do a good sized painting.  So I decided to go with a 60"x 48" gesso'd luan plywood with 1x2 cradling.  I'm a crappy woodworker, and I don't know that I'll try that again.  I would have been happier stretching my own canvas.

I also decided to underpaint the entire painting in grayscale.
I should have been more aggressive on the relative contrasts, but at this point I started layering on what ended up being at least 4 dozen colored glazing layers.  I used mostly foam brushes with very thin glazes.
The painting was scaring my wife at this point.  I felt I just looked stoic and grim.  She felt I looked borderline homicidal.
The painting had a hard time getting to 'finished'.  I finally decided that it was missing a key element.  I wanted to represent some aspect of the cost for the stoic approach.  I'd been working so heavily with glazing medium on this painting that I started to wonder how thick it could get. I'd had some challenges with some of the heavier sponged on glazing I'd tried.  My studio was very very cold and the thick glaze was drying cloudy.  I'd already had one accident on the painting trying to use a heat gun (managed to flake some of the acrylic down to the wood,)  but I thought I might be able to control this if I made an effort.

First I put a matte finish on just my face so that the glazing medium would stand out (and the face would pop a bit off the background.)  Then I took some of the glaze medium, added a tiny amount of cad red so it wouldn't be invisible and poured it from 3 feet onto the location of my 'third eye'  As this puddle formed I took a toothpick and swirled in some more cad red so that it floated in the medium.  I carefully heated from underneath the luan so that the board stayed evenly warm (and I didn't blow on the medium with the heat gun and disturb it.)  The medium managed to stay more than an 1/8 inch thick and started doing some beautiful 'crazing' along the lines where the acrylic paint had mixed in.  It ended up adding a very different element to the painting which I'm very happy with.

What does it mean?  Is it the bloody residue of my blinded third eye?  Is it the remains of some third squashed insect?  It worked for me on the painting even though it's texturally very different.  I suppose, as I was composing this painting, I kept thinking that something was about to blow.  I guess this was it.