Tissues, Sand Paper, and Razorblades

2 Mar 2014

Beginning at the Water's Edge by Jovan Karlo Villalba,
oil on stainless steel, 24 x 24, 2010.
I sometimes put so much emphasis on what I’m painting—thinking about what makes a strong composition and how to lead a viewer through a work—that sometimes I forget or forego the opportunity to explore a purely sensory relationship with the surface.

Try closing your eyes when you paint, or paint with your fingers. Tactile sensation takes over—the oozy slickness of the paint, the slight tooth of the canvas, or the firm press of board. You can take this one step further and learn how invigorating it can be to enliven a painting surface with different treatments or manipulations. Feather a tissue along the wet paint to dull edges. Rough the surface with sandpaper so that the paint fills the pits. Or scratch a finished painting with razorblades to create a subtle visual sense of movement. There are so many ways to interact with your art beyond putting brush to canvas. It’s just a matter of embracing experimentation and giving yourself the freedom to take up a new process. 

In The Artist's Magazine, every article seems to explore either a traditional or experimental technique that can lead to new inroads in your art, regardless of genre or media. For example, dabbling with egg tempera has allowed me to re-envision how effective and meditative careful mark-making and layering washes of color can be. Or what about silverpoint? I’ve never used it before, but the metallic glint of that implement gives a sheen and glow to works that could possibly be utilized other ways, perhaps as the foundation of a mixed media art piece since silverpoint is made with a specific tool on a specific type of ground.

Cloud Cover #1 by Don Maynard, encaustic on paper, 20 x 26, 2009.
Cloud Cover #1 by Don Maynard, encaustic on paper,
20 x 26, 2009.
Each new process that I discover heightens my awareness of art as a whole. The “goal” doesn't always have to be the composition or even the subject matter. Instead, the physicality of the painting process can sometimes come to the fore, and when that happens you start to understand how your work operates in a sensory manner, as well as an intellectual one. If you want to further explore old and new techniques and discover the possibilities inherent in the materials and processes you work with, The Artist's Magazine 2013 Annual CD is an informative resource to start with and one that I vouch for as a guide that has inspired me to go in new directions. Enjoy!


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