“avalanche”

WOW! IS THIS BEAUTIFUL!

As I mentioned in my last post I have been very busy in the studio for the past few weeks.  I am so excited to share this one!  It’s a combination of a few techniques that I have used on various pieces in the past with the addition of a new technique; taken together it turned out truly remarkable!  Like so many of my works, you simply cannot appreciate this creation when looking at a screen or on your phone or tablet.  The colors, and textures, and sheer size and weight of “avalanche” is incredible!

My work began with a 48″ x 48″ canvas, some household white enamel paint (yes that’s right! read on…=), five vibrant acrylic paint colors with some added acrylic medium, and a little iridescent *glitter*.  Here’s a small pick of me getting my supplies ready to go.

My goal going in was to try a “Dutch-pour” where I would cover the canvas with white, and then pour some bands of bright color… the process goes that I then blow white over the bright colors, and finally blow the bright colors back out.  Sounds more complicated that it actually is.  Now 48″ x 48″ is a very large area to cover and I have been sitting on a nearly full gallon of white enamel for some time.  Since I was running low on white paint and medium, I figured I would try and use it up for my base coat, and oh boy did I get a surprise out of it!

Critical to this technique is the viscosity of the paints so that they will flow and blow appropriately.  Now, the white enamel is a much thicker paint than I am used to working with.  When I was laying it down I got a bit frustrated with the tools I was using and so I tossed them aside and just buried my hands in the paint to move it around… what a liberating feeling!  I actually got chills; physically smiled and rolled my eyes back in my head, enjoying the thick mud moving through my fingers like a kindergartner.  As it turns out, using the enamel instead of acrylic would be much more than an economic solution, which I will get more into in just a bit.

First, the colors to pour out into my white covered canvas.  I choose to go use blue as my primary hue, which meant I have two variations of blue in my palette.  Then a complimentary burnt umber for contrast; a bright orange for flare, and a metallic… in this case, gold.  I learned this recipe from an artist I have been studying and I was very pleased with the results. I did have to decide how I wanted to compose these colors onto the canvas.  I’ve seen several pieces that run the colors off of each side with a wave in the middle… some are vertical, others run diagonally from corner to corner.  I chose diagonal, and I wanted my entire composition to stay within the edges of my canvas, and not bleed over any edges.

Once all these decisions are made and the paint is all mixed up, the process happens very quickly.  Pour it on, spread it out… lay down the colors and blow it all out, a la Dutch Pour style.  Below is the first progress shot I took just following this step.  Notice how thick the white enamel is… in fact, you can see that I choose to simply pour out the remnants from my gallon around the outside, as indicated by the streaks and blobs of thick white paint.  This, too, turned out to be a very deterministic decision to the outcome, one I had no idea of what would be the results until it was done.

It was at this stage that my assistant (eh, wife) walked into the studio and said, “STOP!”  I froze and looked at her holding my blower in mid air… she said, “I Love it! Don’t do any more!”  Kathie has been an inspiration on more than a few of my works, and she is usually spot on… so, I stopped right there and thought all I needed to do now was cover it up and let it dry.  Just look at the vibrant colors in this close up while it was still wet… I was very happy with this one!

 

 

But that’s not the end… As it turns out, the enamel was so thick and being in the high 90’s that day, the drying process actually resulted in some fantastic features of this painting.  Over the next few hours as I checked in on it every so often I noticed that the paint was starting to crack!  Oh no, I thought… I should’ve thinned the paint more.  As the night went on and all through the next day, and as it slowwwly dried, the cracks got bigger; and in some areas they started to lift off the canvas.  I thought this was going to end up an experiment gone south… but I just loved those colors.  I thought, what if I embraced the textures; make them a part of the work.  I would need to lock them in so that they wouldn’t flake off and so I pulled out my recent experience working with resin.  I went and bought 2 gallons… a LOT of resin. and the following weekend set out to finish this right!

I had only worked with resin once prior when I created “paradise above”, and it was on a very stiff 1/2″ MDF board.  What I learned on this go around is that a large canvas will sag quite a bit under so much weight.  In the end it took three separate layers because the resin kept creeping towards the middle and the edges were left with empty spots… on my last layer I propped up the center and created a small dam around the outside to ensure that the resin stayed put all around the edges.  This actually created an awesome effect that looks like a sheet of glass melding into the surface of the painting.

So, what looked like the ruin of my work actually turned out to be one of it’s best features.  The cracking is not uniform, as it catered to the thickness of the paint, which I shared earlier was very uneven because I simply emptied my bucket in different areas at the end.  This created some unique and various webbing in the cracking of the enamel, whereas the acrylic in the middle remained very smooth and flowing with no cracks at all.  Some of the cracks that rose off the canvas are the best features of all… they protrude well out beyond the resin surface in a few spots and when you view it you can’t help but want to gently touch these protrusions… my first interactive work! =)

None of this can really be taken in by photographs.  I took the video below to try and demonstrate some of these features, but even still this is absolutely a piece that is 1000% more stunning in real life.  Maybe it will be on public display very soon for you to come check it out! 😉

avalanche_video

Click the link above to view the video of “avalanche”.  Thank you for reading.  Please let me know if you like this… I’ve already got some ideas on creating the next one in this same style.

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