Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Painting Is

I just finished reading What Painting Is by James Elkins. It is about the link between alchemy and painting. There are some interesting ideas especially when he talks about the materiality of painting. He talks about how painters used to mix their own pigments using raw materials from the earth and follow recipes that were passed to them from their mentors. They would use sulphur, copper, iron, lead, etc. Each colour has a different "personality" because of the nature of the material from which it is made and they react in different ways to each other and to the medium (linseed oil, etc). It would explain why I can never get a fully saturated lemon yellow and why a touch of cadmium red can overpower your picture.
There are many good tid bits about painting (if you can get around some of the more out-there ideas such as the hermaphrodite being the ideal Christ bride as the symbol of the insanity ?!?). One such tid bit is that painting is thought in liquid form.
Another tidbit: a painting is finished once you can no longer tell which colour is on top of which.
I think I'll try to find this book on Abe so that I can underline it and mark it up . . . and then share my recipe of turning lead to gold with you :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Painting After Painting

The subject of my project is the average, everyday Tupperware container. The plastic container is ubiquitous in the household. They are sanitary, cost effective, and streamlined to store food, liquids, and whatever. To me, they represent both domesticity and technological progress: I get images of the 1970s style of nuclear family and Tupperware parties (advertising campaign designed to get housewives together and show off their new Tupperware sets). I also see the mark of scientific research into the use of plastics. I see the conscious use of ergonomic industrial design in these containers. It is a symbol of the kitchen, the home, comfort, and reliability. I started to ask myself questions beyond the tactile sensation of the material and the environmental impact of plastics. I started to ask myself what makes this mass produced, universal, designed object special? It is smooth to the touch, sturdy as a container, and safe. How do I make the mundane extraordinary? What if I made this object rough, non-functional, and dangerous? How would painting facilitate this expression? Since my class presentation about Matthew Ritchie, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of painting moving beyond the rectangular format of the canvas. I decided to paint actual Tupperware containers that I had modified to suit the criteria above with primary and secondary colours as well as black and white. Each container is enticing by means of the saturated colour but on second glance, the viewer notices that there are sharp edges, screws facing out, and pointy tacks. If the viewer picks up the object and examines it, they will discover that it is completely useless: it cannot contain anything or cannot be opened. Ideally, these objects would be displayed on a shelf that is chest height (on the average viewer) so that they can easily engage with them. It will be interesting to see how the class reacts to these objects on the floor. Perhaps the distance from eye-level to floor will entice the viewer more? I would like to continue to explore making paintings that are off the canvas because the viewer can interact with the piece in a more intimate way: paintings on the wall can be more distant than an object in “real space”.






Solo show at VEAG

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Painters from Vitamin P

Here's list of some of the painters featured in the huge tome "Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting" that I thought were interesting at first glance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Abstracted landscape

Abstacted Landscape, 36" by 24", acrylic on canvas

The scene I chose for this assignment is the abandoned lot in Chinatown that’s been fenced off to impede public access. At first I was intrigued with how vegetation was starting to retake the area but that seemed a little cliché. As me and my prof talked about it further, it seemed that I was more enticed by the fact that this space was fenced off. It was off limits and that seemed to make me wonder why? Was it dangerous? What made this space so special that it had to be fenced off? The only evidence of someone using the space was that there was graffiti on the surrounding structures. To evoke the lure I felt for the space, I used the tagged letterforms from the graffiti and abstracted them. I matched some of the colours used from the tagging as well. I composed the forms in a spontaneous way to get the sense of excitement/piqued interest in exploring this forbidden area. It is shallow space but there’s some ambiguity because the forms overlap and create thin layers which takes the forms out of their context and asks the viewer to experience them in an unfamiliar way. I then overlaid a pattern of squares that makes reference to the chain link fence used at the location. I wanted to obscure parts of the painting to create a little more depth but also to reinforce the notion of a partially blocked off space. The fencing creates and interesting simultaneity of depth versus flat in the picture. I created this painting without using brushes or any “painterly” means. I think this painting is more successful then my still life because it doesn’t look like paint (ie: no drips or brush strokes). It was a tedious process to mask off the forms with green painter’s tape and to use a roller to apply the paint, but once I removed the tape, I was quite thrilled with the results. I could see this painting being a large mural in a public space.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still life assignment

Still life with Containers, 24" by 30", acrylic on canvas, 2011

The subjects for my still life painting are containers: vases, bowls, bottles, etc. They are a metaphor for the human body which is also a container of sorts. Vases are interesting because they are pure forms that contain space; their form follows their function (with some decorative embellishments). I decided to make a painting that wasn’t “painterly”. I wanted to use the masking technique that we saw with one of the student’s presentations last week (the paintings made from computer renderings) and I also wanted to use painting implements other than the familiar (ie. brushes and palette knives). After I had composed the image, I thought it would be interesting to lay in more colours in a topographic kind of way with the brightest colours representing parts of the still life that are closest to the viewer and the darkest parts being the furthest. This process made for an interesting effect. I decided to leave the perimeter of the painting “unpainted” because I wanted to show the drips of each successive layer. In this way, the unfinished area makes reference not only to the temporal aspect of making the painting but also alludes to the fact that these objects represented on the surface are made up of only coloured liquid. It an interesting juxtaposition of 3d illusion versus the flatness of the picture plane. I used yellow and blue as my two colours because they offer the highest ranges of tints and shades.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tinfoil painting

Hand-painted Hand, 24" by 24", acrylic on canvas, 2011

For this assignment, I created a cast of my right hand out of tinfoil and used that as the subject for my painting. I thought it would be interesting to paint my right hand with my right hand. The right hand is palm down coming from the top edge of the canvas. The placement of the hand this way is the least interpretive (ie. less recognized gesture) so the viewer can experience the shades and forms on the picture. I wanted to play with the notion of flat versus 3d and that’s why there’s no perspective to the composition: a shallow space. I started to layout the tones placing the darkest darks and the lightest lights. I had to simplify the planes of the tinfoil cast so that I could get a sense of the movement of the composition. I also thought it would be interesting to develop one section of the canvas and leave the rest very loose. I feel this gives the composition a more definite focal point. I used a mix of Cadmium orange and Ultramarine blue to create the greys for my mid-tones. This worked quite well with the “neutral” black I used to block in the forms because it enhanced the contrast of warm and cool greys. I wanted to create a contrast of thick and thin as well with the detailed area built-up with thick paint and the rest a loose wash. As a final touch, I applied some paint to the canvas by putting paint on some crumpled tinfoil, put it against the canvas, and then rubbed the back to get the actual texture.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is a painting?

What is a painting today?
That seems to be the main concern for contemporary painters. Instead of being concerned about how a painting is made, the shift has changed to what a painting is? or what is a painting?
My intuition (and knowledge up to now) thinks that a painting is a drawing thats in colour. So already, the boundaries are blurred . . . but that seems to hold true with all of the arts today.
I like the thought of a painting as a drawing. For me, it brings it off it's pedastal as "art" or something sacred and brings it more in line with the casualness of my art. I'm not precious about my paintings. Even today, I made the gallery owner at Dales Gallery nervous because I had my paintings stacked up together in potentially canvas piercing ways lol.
But perhaps painting should be revered as an "answer" to a visual question/problem. A drawing is the proof, the painting is the pudding.(Does that even make sense lol).
Interesting question at the least.