Thursday, January 01, 2009

Work in Progress

Work in Progress, painting by Jan Blencowe

About This Painting:
Come visit the studio and watch while I work on a new painting filled with texture and soft, luminous atmosphere. I'm using Chroma Interactive acrylics and using the age old techinque of scumbling... n.) A mode of obtaining a softened effect, in painting and drawing, by the application of a thin layer of opaque color to the surface of a painting, or part of the surface, which is too bright in color, or which requires harmonizing.

Media: acrylic
Size: 20 in X 16 in (50.8 cm X 40.6 cm)

I'll be starting a new newsletter in 2009, it will be filled with special previews and information that you will receive before it's posted on my blog or website. It's a chance for you to be more involved and acquainted with my work and become part of a community of artists, collectors and art lovers that share in the joy and beauty of creativity. Sign up using the new green sign up box at the top of the side bar. There is a permanent sign up link in the sidebar.

Work in Progress

Occassionally, I go back and re-work a painting. This one's been on my mind for some time and today I began to re-work it.

The original idea was to create a painting with the look and feel of a Turner. The original title was Daylight, and I was pursuing the indistinct, hazy glaring atmosphere of a sunrise over the marsh, something I've seen many times in the summer on early morning walks with the pooch. I was never really satisfied with this piece as a whole. I felt that I had begun to capture the glaring sunrise but the painting itself felt anemic and lacked body and presence. This was especially noticable after I saw this Turner, at the Yale Center for British Art on Tuesday.

You can't see it in the jpeg but the surface of this painting has been built up, layer upon layer with lots of scumbling over thick bruskwork to create that mysterious, palpable atmposphere. There's so much scumbling and obscuring going on that at first glance this, like many of Turner's works, looks like a modern non-objective abstract painting, without reference to subject matter. This I believe is why so many of Turner's painting titles are a sentence long, he needed to explain to the viewer what he was looking at. I spent a lot of time looking at the Turners on Tuesday, (see my post about it here), and came home with some ideas. Today I hunted down my a favorite book, Turner at the Tate, and I spent some time reading and looking. Unfortunately, that book is now out of print, but at Best Books for Artists, Turner in His Time, another excellent book, is my recommendation for January's Book of the Month.

So what exactly am I doing to re-work this piece. I started by repainting, using a large brush to scrub and erase the distinctness of the scene. For example the edge of the water way has been obliterated as has the horizon, which I began to re-establish further down in the painting. I worked quickly adding lots more scrubby layers of scumbling. This was easy for me since I'm working with Chroma Interactive Acrylics and with the addition of their "fast" medium they dry quickly. Turner would have had to wait a considerable amount of time before adding another layer of scumbly atmosphere to his painting. But I still felt I wasn't getting the "body" to the painting's surface that I wanted. So, next I used some Chroma Impasto Gel, and worked it all over the surface with a brush and a palette knife just as if I were painting with colors. The impasto gel adds thick texture, goes on milky and dries opaque, just about clear where it's thin, a little cloudier where it's thick. Once this is dry, which will be in a couple of hours, I can begin the process of adding layers of thin, dry-ish paint again and more mysterious atmosphere will be added in several successive layers. The neat thing is that this dry scumbling allows the paint to cling to the raised areas of impasto gel and that means that the colors in the nooks and valleys of the surface will be unaltered and that will add an enormous amount of complexity to both the color and the texture of the painting. What you see in the photo above are the thickest swirls of impasto gel which are still milky white on the re-worked painting.

Check back tomorrow to see how I've progressed!


Pilgrim said...

Jan, I lived in London for 20 years, and have been to the Turner Gallery at The Tate. Have you ever seen his painting of Fireworks over the Thames? It is one big black painting with points of light. One of my favourites.
I am looking forward to following your project!!

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Pilgrim,

You are so fotunate to have been to the Turner Gallery! I'm always amazed at the power that paintings have in person, so much more so than in a book or on the net. I have only seen Fireworks over the Thames in books, but I imagine it must be stunning in real life!