November 29, 2014 by smithartonline
Sailor’s Guide continues my exploration of the rolled painting, borrowing from the thangka traditions Asia. Finishing this piece was interrupted when I stopped to prepare Wooing of the Kitsune for exhibition. So, this is a stop and go work. Generally I try to avoid this practice, but occasionally one is thrust into time demands that cannot be ignored.
This work is acrylic paint and ink airbrushed on unprimed muslin. Without priming the surface the painting may be rolled up without concern for the surface cracking. In my college days I experimented with applying watercolor to unprimed canvas. It was necessary to add a bit of dish detergent to the water (Those who lived extravagant life styles bought Water Tension Reducer, but dish detergent did the same thing) The watercolor then stained the fabric quite nicely: without the detergent the water bubbled and stayed on the surface. Later on I discovered that washing the fabric was another solution: I now wash the muslin before painting on it. An added benefit for me is the edges fuzz out which is appealing to me, with a nod to lungta flags from Tibet in which the edges show strings…in fact they are supposed to become increasingly thread bare with time.
The presentation is influenced by Portrait of a Shaman, a Korean work currently on view at the USC Pacific Asia Museum. The Internet view does not show the work framed: the work is suspended from the top rail by a cord and the painted fabric hangs down inside a shadow frame.
Having used both primed muslin and unprimed, I think I prefer the bare surface for a final presentation. I do need to spot prime areas where I use gilding; otherwise I just keep it raw.