Little Boxes pt 2

Following on from the early experiments I made in making these smaller canvases with simple grid like structures featuring boxes I have made and completed one that I am really happy with.

The picture above is off one of the best works I feel I have made yet. This one is a realisation of several things I have been thinking about and experimenting on as discussed earlier in this blog.

It is a relatively simple painting although the process to create it is actually quite long and it requires several specialist techniques that I have learnt over the past couple of years. It took me many months to be able to lay multiple washes of highly dilute acrylics on unprimed canvas without them bleeding into each other. The secret to this was re-waterproofing the canvases once each layer had been applied. Canvas has natural water repellent properties (hence they used to build tents from it). These properties are lost once it gets sodden with water and it then needs reproofing again. I also sourced a waterproof masking tape so enable the perfect straight lines of the washes. The areas that are painted with "normal" acrylic have to be sized and primed and this is achieved by using clear size and prime. If these are not used then the paint sits IN the canvas rather than ON it. All of these techniques took many months of experiments to get the results I wanted. Most of these experiments took place last summer (in the holidays).

There was one last thing I needed to get correct and that was the grey tones needed greater consistency than the version I did a month or so ago picture below. This painting had the grey scale painted in oils and it was all mixed up on the spot. One of the things I have noticed about my painting skills is that I often do not notice or really see exactly where a tone is in relation to the scale of tints and shades. e.g. when I am making grey tones I do not naturally know that it is nearer white than darkest grey. I also miss the subtle variations in the values of grey. I obviously see these when looking but when mixing I tend not to make a true evaluation. This is probably something I will get better at as I continue to mix and use colours, tones, tints and shades but for the present I worked out a simple solution to ensure the grey shades I wanted were nice and evenly balanced throughout the painting unlike the earlier version below.

To achieve this i bought a quantity of small plastic pots with lids. My intention was to mix up lots of greys before hand with acrylic paint then store them in these sealable pots so that they do not dry and I can then access them when I need them. The new painting had a grid formation of 8x8 squares so I decided to make up 8 shades of grey (not 50!). This took me a few hours in good sunlight so that I could get a really nice variety of tones with each successive tone being a noticeable step away from the previous but this step equal throughout the range.

The picture above shows my 8 shades of grey premixed and arranged in order of value.

Finally I decided to mark each put with the colour of its contents. This helps me to know exactly what shade is inside as the cheaper acrylics I use darken once dry meaning one can not use the wet paint as a gauge of final tone.

The use of these pots enabled me to create the lovely variety of shades in the final painting. I also decided to scatter the shades in clusters so that similar shades would sit near each other with the occasional light and dark shade together to add interest. Each shade was placed 8 times except for the lightest and darkest. These were applied 7 times to leave 2 free squares for the orange and green to act as highlights and points of interest. They also reflect the orange and green strips used in the staining of the canvas.

I am really please with this work and its production method is something I am going to use a lot in future. i feel that the end result is a language that although referencing severaral artists and movements (such as op-art and geometric abstraction) it is unique enough in application to go somewhere to being original so I need to push it as far as I can.

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