...and there was plenty of it today! Heading to my sixth, and final (for the year) art workshop this morning, I took along an old canvas layered from many attempts at creating something worth keeping. Last week I had played with two colours on it's surface of absorbent grounds (fibre paste, absorbent ground, molding paste) -- Paynes Grey and Pyrrole Transparent Orange. Needless to say it was looking somewhat overwhelmed by too much orange and overall, rather underwhelming.
Morag (Morag Stokes - http://www.stokes.net.nz) suggested taking to it with the wet & dry sandpaper to see what interest might be revealed from the hidden layers beneath. So I did. There was some interest that popped through -- black and white patches appeared, there was less orange, plus a lovely smoothness to the surface. I didn't know which way was up, or down, or which way to orientate it - landscape or portrait. I turned it, sanded some more, and turned it again. It felt best at this point in portrait format.
I was interested to experiment with Clear Tar Gel (not a product I usually use) to see how the paints might move on the smooth surface (not a surface I usually have), So I dribbled some in long strands from top to bottom on one side. Spread it roughly with a knife, then dribbled three colours of fluid acrylic over the top of it, and spread those. Now I'm usually (very) impatient with paint, but this time I just stood and watched. The paint started to move and bleed into one another and across the surface in quite interesting ways. Not content to wait too long, I added some white in another strip. And then dragged a rough old hard sponge over the paint from the top of the canvas to the bottom. Wow - - very fine lines of beautiful blended, but still distinct, colours emerged. At this point, Morag very tactfully said, "you know there's a critical point if you keep blending the colours, that everything will suddenly turn to mud." I knew it was time to stop! Well, temporarily anyway.
I applied a similar process to the other side of the canvas - dribbling, spreading and dragging the colours. I loved how the fine lines produced from the dragged sponge moved and blended the paints, while maintaining the colours and creating lovely textures within. The result reminded Morag of the artist Gerhard Richter and she showed me a book of his works. He creates a vast range of material in oils, and some of them used this dragged technique. His colours and textures are beautiful. I'll be looking out for more of his work for sure!
So at last, I have something on this canvas that might just we worth keeping - the joys of throwing caution to the wind and painting without preconception. Who said watching paint dry was boring!