Thursday, June 30, 2011

"New Earth" a poetic landscape

 New Earth, 18x24, acrylic on linen panel, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
View in a sample frame on my website here

detail of two great blue herons in New Earth

This is the painting I started last Saturday when I was gallery sitting my show at the  Arts Center of Tolland. 

I've been experimenting in this painting with combining the very fluid and transparent watercolor effects you can get with acrylic and the oil painting effects of more opaque paint and a glossy highly finished surface.

More about that in the video...

The key to using the acrylics like watercolors is to remember that you can't just thin the paint with water, because if you thin it down too much it won't adhere properly to the support and if you glaze over it or apply an isolation coat it will pick up the pigment and basically wipe it away. So use some kind of acrylic medium to thin down the paint along with clean water.  Speaking of isolation coats they're important too, not only do they add depth and gloss they also ensure that those thin transparent layers of paint are sealed, and adhered permanently to your surface. Make an isolation coat using 2 parts Golden soft gel (gloss) and one part water, apply with a foam brush. Allow it to fully dry before adding another layer of paint.

The other important piece to remember is, that if you're going to leave more of your under painting showing through you need to be a bit more mindful when you paint it. I've had to slow down a bit, and while remaining loose and spontaneous be aware of the color, placement and strokes I use when creating the under painting. What could literally be sloppy before because it just needed to be a value and compositional map and was destined to be covered up now may show through in the final painting.

Hope you enjoyed the video!

The other thing I really busy with right now besides painting and getting ready for my next solo exhibit which you can check out here is overseeing the installation of a beautiful, new Zen Fusion meditation garden. If that's interesting to you you can check out progress pictures here.

OK, so you're thinking What in the world is Zen Fusion?  A traditional, authentic Zen garden is a dry garden, called karesansui, and it is composed of rocks and raked gravel without water features or plants. That austerity combined with great design creates a minimal visual space, uncluttered and conducive to meditation and stress relief. However, I'm not a Buddhist monk and as a Western gardener I haven't the discipline necessary to limit my garden to rocks and gravel, though there are plenty of both in my Zen Garden. So a Zen fusion garden takes elements of a traditional Zen garden and combines the with some Western influences, like plants. My simply designed minimal garden will have a Japanese Maple, and azalea, a Mugo pine, a Kousa Dogwood, ornamental grasses to line the perimeter, creeping thyme to cover the "islands" because we have too much sun to grow the traditional moss. Plus there are plenty of rocks and gravel for raking into patterns that are meant to represent the movement of water. Stay tuned for more updates!


Susan Roux said...

Hi Jan, I love the emotion you captured in this painting. Who would have thought acrylic? Wow, you're certainly pushing the medium to new limits. It's so refreshing to see it is on a large format! I tire of all the tiny supports most seem to be using these days. I feel to paint, really paint, one needs space to move the paint around. Your garden sounds lovely...

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for taking a moment to comment, nice to hear from you! I've painted my share of small format paintings.

Painting outdoors often necessitates painting small quick studies, and certainly small paintings cost less to create and frame which is easier on the wallet, but I have to agree with you I need some substantial room to really push the paint around and allow for a fuller expression.


Maggie Latham said...

Hi Jan, Your mention about the isolation layer really helps as I just figured out last week that I need to have a layer of Atelier clear painting medium in between a lot of my layers, which have been thinned with water! My dance with Interactive is only two months now, but I’ve definitely caught your enthusiasm for the merits of this paint. Your blog and posts are extremely helpful and insightful. I knew something exciting was going to happen this year, but had no idea that it would be in the form of painting in acrylic!!! Did you receive my email of a couple of months back, by the way? (Just raving about your work really and asking for morsels of help)! Your up-coming show sounds lovely… as does your new garden.