It is too hot to move, too hot to put clothes on, too hot to think. We are having a record-breaking heatwave here in Los Angeles and it’s a killer, I tell you! We weren’t affected much in San Pedro when this happened. In fact, no one I know had air conditioning in San Pedro. You didn’t need it.
But alas, I am not in Pedro anymore. I’m up here on the El Sereno/South Pasadena/Alhambra border. And while it’s beautiful, it’s HOT, even with A/C. I hear that northeast Pasadena is like 10 degrees hotter, so I feel bad for mjp. Luckily he is indoors in the AC.
I only managed to work a little bit on the green painting, but it’s slightly further along. It’s just hard to see in this blurry image. I spend a lot of time layering a lot of medium in order to get a rich, almost incandescent, coloring, something I’ve been doing a long time. I think it gives it a polished look in the end, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Often I just want to obsess less and see what would happened if I left it the fuck alone, but I’m not going to do that with this piece. I’m going to put all my efforts in like I do all my canvases otherwise I don’t feel right about showing or selling them.
I use a lot of underpainting for texture and depth, coating the top with either a thick (matte) or transparent oil color. The pattern paper I use takes a lot of abuse, first with sticking it onto the canvas with a clear acrylic polymer — which leaves a shine, and I hate that shine, so then I work with swirling a lot of acrylic matte color on top of the paper and over the polymer until the paper absorbs it and the shine diminishes. I’ll get a lot of rough parts in the paper, kind of spotty, in the areas that didn’t get sealed with the polymer. I kind of like that (depending) because it shows the paper getting roughed up, like scrubbing it until it almost starts to fall apart. It’s fun stuff. I try to be careful not to completely hide that manila color of the paper, even when it’s mixed with paint – I like to keep some of that original paper color present somehow.
I feel like I am giving away my secrets. I don’t know what compelled me to start typing about this stuff.
Anyway, after all that is done, I feel like then the thing is ready to be painted on. I know that sounds silly since I’m painting layers on it before that, but when I get to the point where I’m using pure oil paint and pencil, it’s all prep work to me. The basic composition is there, and the original vision, but then it’s time to expand on that and see where it all goes. That’s the “painting” part.
The stage you see here is me just starting to “paint” it. I can confirm, however, that the top left corner of this painting is 90% done.
When it’s all done being painted and it dries, I stitch on it: one stitch at a time. I poke the holes first, so I can see where I’m at from the back of the canvas because light comes through those holes and the light is my guide.
After that I’ll embroider some elements in the painting. That part is fun too, because it’s the ‘finisher” to the whole thing and I can start to see what the hell I’ve made. And I usually hate it until I can walk away from it for some days. Well maybe not hate as much as can’t be objective. That is a whole other process. The artist spends all this time with the process of creating and fabrication, having a very close personal relationship with the work in a way a viewer will never ever know, then the viewer is experiencing something the artist will never know because of the very intimate time we spent working on it. I can compare it to a mother raising a child, then letting that child loose to fend for themselves. You’re proud, yet horrified, terrified and cautious. You know you did your best, and now you must put the child to the test.
I guess I spent most of the day Tuesday working on this doll thing instead of painting.
If I can get it to where I want it, I’ll put it in the show and hang it from the ceiling, but I think this one is more like the prototype and not the one I’ll be happy with.