Geometric Abstraction – part 2

Posted on January 20, 2009

Shards

Some time ago I posted about a large (22″ by 48″) geometric abstraction I had been working on. By calling that blog entry “part 1” I pretty much promised you a peek at the finished results and here they are. This painting took hours of painstaking work with taping then layer after layer of paint to get a beautifully smooth, opaque color. It is finished with a matte varnish to give the paint a chalky look which I love in these very opaque tints.

To summarize the process, in case you’re interested in doing something similar and giving yourself a headache:

  1. designed painting in Illustrator, working from an initial photo and color studies
  2. painted colored ground
  3. measured and taped outside of shapes (where 2 overlapped – minimizing measuring and taping)
  4. used matte medium to seal the tape edges (2 coats)
  5. used gesso on inside of shapes for a nice, white ground
  6. added tape to define individual shapes, using matte medium to seal new edges
  7. painted each shape (with fluid acrylics) multiple times to achieve an opaque, smooth surface
  8. changed tape location and repeated above 2 steps as necessary
  9. pulled off tape and touched up edges
  10. matte varnish

Shards (in progress)

Here it is in progress with the tape still on. As you can see it was very hard to judge how the final piece would look and I did have to repaint some areas to balance the colors and composition after I took some of the tape off. Taking all the tape off was indeed a magical moment as the painting appeared. Despite my careful taping and sealing using matte medium I still had to touch up some areas where paint or gesso had leaked under the tape. Saying that though, I really enjoyed working on this painting – I learnt a lot about how difficult seemingly simple things can be. It also felt meditative to work on such a carefully planned piece. I will probably work like this again, although perhaps not so large or so complex. If I did I would only complete around four a year – that would be four VERY expensive paintings a year. And would be a nightmare to live with.

I love this painting and something about working this way appealed to me – I just have to find out exactly what. Every class I have taken at Glassell has pushed me to try something I would not otherwise have done – a technique, a genre, a subject – sorting out the personal wheat from the chaff is my ongoing homework.

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