Yesterday, a frigid Sunday in December, I decided it was time for me to resume painting. It’s been several weeks since I put palette knife to canvas; so, I had to go through the process of setting up my space, beginning with covering the floor with a green oil cloth.
Next, I laid out my tubes of paint, checking to make sure all the colors I needed were there; and then I assembled my brushes and knives, paper towels, pliers (for opening the stuck tubes) and a bowl of water. I carefully put the bright, white canvas (20″x24″) on my easel where I stared at it for a while, trying to decide whether this next piece would be an abstract or a landscape.
In and of itself, the set-up process was enjoyable. But, by now, I was hungry and had to take care of that base need first.
Earlier, I had decided to use orange acyric paint for the underpainting of an immagined “abstract” landscape. Once again, inspired by the beauty of the Kiawah Island marshes, I chose a 20″x24″ canvas on which to capture the engaging scene.
For some unknown reason, I chose a paint roller with which to apply this initial coat. Having never tried this before, I plunged the roller into a bowl of water, then dried it with paper towels. Then, I dripped the paint directly from the tube onto the stark white canvas, took the roller and began to move it through the paint.
Two things happened at once: the paint turned crumbly and water dripped down the canvas. I examined the paint (after sponging up the water) and found it to be very firm/hard. This is not the normal state of acrylic paint. Still, I thought this was a challenge and decided to continue the process using more sweeping movement with the roller. Then, I chose my largest steel palette knife to work the paint into different marks of varying consistencies. I stood up (I was painting on the floor) and surveyed the piece; my mind running fast trying to think of a way to “save” this canvas. I added a few brush marks; hashed some knife marks and stopped.
There was no way to make lemonade out of this lemon…
I took my canvas into the laundry room where I have a large sink, ran the water, scraped and sponged the paint until the canvas returned to its’ original state:. Well, not quite; it will never be white again.
Then, I remembered the well-known artist, Richard Wright, last year’s winner of Britain’s Turner Prize who obliterates many of his murals with white emulsion after they are displayed. Mr Wright explains that he is interested in “the fragility of the moment of engagement.”
Right, Mr. Wright! I fully agree – it is the moment (or hours) that really matter… therein lies the joy.