Friday, July 13, 2007

Brought back from the brink

The image above is a detail of a recent work on paper, from an interesting series that has come about as a natural part of my working process (spontaneous, for better or worse).

Here's how it goes: Sometimes I come to a stage in working on a stretched canvas when I hate the painting, when it's gone too far and the design or colors have become muddy and obscured. If I lay a sheet of fresh paper over the surface and run a brayer over it, I get a cool print (like the image above). So I can chuck the canvas and reuse the stretcher bars, while still ending up with a terrific print on paper. The canvas is to this process like the glass one paints on in making a monoprint.

This painting on canvas had become a thick pile of yucky brown and white paint mixed into mud. Any design or tonal contrast I had achieved had long since been lost in the mucky mess. As a last-ditch effort to save it, I tried scraping a pattern into the wet paint, but the original canvas was too buried too far and the general appearance of murky gloom prevailed.

But when I pressed a clean sheet of paper against the surface, the awful brown lightened into this elegant beige, and the white of the page turned the scraped marks into this crisp, script-like design.

The painting wasn't over 'til it was over!

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