Lines trajectory invites dancing and the SRAM pART project begins

#16 – Tuesday July 5th

All in all, it’s been a quiet week . . . but a fun one in the studio . . . so for this Tuesday I thought I’d show the development in two specific areas of a painting I’m working on.  First the activation of a line segment ( in the bottom half of the canvas )  and second, just how one of the shapes that inhabit this painting is getting it’s groove on.

The line. To sketch in the line’s trajectory, I start out with 6b graphite drawing lead, ground to a very sharp point. The 6b leads are nice and soft, easy to smear and easy to erase, so the original path is determined with a light hand and thin mark ( image 1). Once I get the line to interact with the other elements of the painting in an appropriate context, I wet my fingers and purposely do smear the graphite, expanding the line’s influence. ( image 2 ). I go back in with dry pigment and paint ( in this case a Grass Green colored pencil, Burnt Orange Conte Crayon, and Titanium White acrylic, image 3 ) working, coaxing the line, instilling in it a dynamic personality . . . a subtle but essential process making the line alive with the narrative of life.

The shape. Volume, object, figure . . . whatever. I can’t seem to come up with an appropriate designation for this dancing form, however here is its history, and looking closely, past alliterations show the genesis how it came to be. Trial, error, experimentation and a workman like attitude. Joyous and playful.

On another note . . . my box of parts for the SRAM pART project to benefit World Bicycle Relief just now arrived . . . So here’s a little preview of the box and parts ( partially unpacked) that are my source materials . . .this IS going to be fun!

Thanks for reading.


The wonderful world of art and machine

# 15 – Tuesday June 28th

I’ve a thing for bikes . . . and it’s a wonder when my art and bikes intersect, especially in such a project as the SRAM pART project in support of World Bicycle Relief.   Based in Chicago, SRAM is a world leader in the design and manufacture of bicycle components.  SRAM has invited 50 artists to create a “piece” using a variety of their parts. These works will be exhibited in Las Vegas at InterBike (THE bicycle trade show) and at a gallery in Chicago,  then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to World Bicycle Relief programs . . .  that’s it . . . the SRAM pART project.  Very cool.  My box of parts is winging its way to the desert, from the Windy City, even as I write this . . . and you can bet the making of my pART “piece” will be featured here on my blog.

Speaking of parts . . . I’ve been promising an addition to my Tools of the Trade page and here it is . . . acrylic and dry pigments (my media of choice!). I started with oils, loved the smell and the creamy texture under the brush, but as my technique transitioned from a thicker application of paint, into using multiple thin, opaque and translucent layers, I wanted those layers to dry quickly,  and that wasn’t happening with the oil paint. So I started to experiment with acrylics. I’ll spend days and weeks just looking, but when it comes to making  marks or applying pigment to canvas, I’m an impatient painter. Acrylics do dry fast and as my technique expanded to include scraping, sanding, scrubbing and all manner of abrasive manipulation of the canvas, acrylics not only held up to the abuse I delivered but  glowed under the strain, and I’ve used acrylics ever since. Golden is my brand of choice. Why Golden? No particular reason other than Golden acrylics were the very first acrylic paints I experimented with, and while I’ve tried a variety of other brands over the years, Golden acrylics consistently do what I want with no surprises.

The whole dry pigment idea started out with crushing up pastel sticks and rubbing the pigmented powder into the canvas, but now it’s the way I describe my catch-all basket of mark making tools . . . colored pencil, pastel, charcoal, graphite . . . whatever gets used that doesn’t come out of a tube.  These “dry pigment” media do require something to make them stay put, and I use fixatives to accomplish that task. The original Blair 105 was a great fixative, workable and water-soluble, and had been an integral component in my technique for years  . . .  but then the 105 formula was changed and that was the end of that. I’ve experimented with all manner of fixatives since, and my current fave is SpectraFix.  SpectraFix is a casein-based fixative using milk proteins and grain alcohol . . . It does what it’s supposed to do, with no funky odor or noxious fumes . . . and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks for reading.


A little teaser. Two very new canvasses . . . so new . . . no words yet, but excited to see where they go!