October 20, 2014 by smithartonline
I continue to experiment with applying media on raw muslin. In this case I primed the central area and left the border raw. This is a similar technique used by the Tibetan Buddhist painters who created thangkas. Thangkas are meant to be rolled up for storage, but this does degrade the surface to some extent, so I am disinclined to roll this up.
The base color was hand painted with a very light blue acrylic, then a second layer using white and cerulean blue was added over the initial layer. After the base color was finished, airbrushed designs and a few symbols were added randomly to give a bit of atmosphere and history to the work. Often I have no specific design in mind at this stage. I simply want a textural background to work over. In many ways this is reminiscent of First Nation ledger art in that the papers used already had designs (usually writing) on them and the artist added images on top. Until recently, artists using this form of expression did not consider what was written on the surface. Contemporary artists who employ this form do consider what is written, using words to add to their statement. (For excellent examples of this art form, I direct you to the works of Dolores Purdy and Michael Horse)
With the general background completed, I determined a direction and applied images related to this tack… As is my wont, the plan in my head was significantly different from the final work…it started out referencing selkie tales, but a whale supplanted the seal at some point.
The border proved a bit of a problem. Staining of the raw muslin border occurred from the varnish application to the central field. At first I considered leaving the stain…after all, the artwork determines the final direction. However, no amount of self-arguing convinced me this was a good idea, so I used acrylic inks and colored the raw border with the yellows and greens you now see.