From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

New Skin Painting cont…

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Today I got into the studio for some of the unseen parts of artwork.  I worked on three paintings, but mostly this one.  I like the surface skin of these paintings to have a smooth, almost leathery feel.  At my last open studios people kept asking what I used for the previous one.  “Is it leather?”  No.

As usual I love messing with people’s expectations of conventional materials.

So… today was working the surface of this white layer you see.  I had put on two layers of gesso (sanding between) already while it was stretched against the stitches.  Today it was about working more layers it deep in, letting it dry hanging in the correct directions, smoothing and trimming the edges, getting the backs of the edges.

It is now buttery-smooth, supple and with only tiny intentional hints of canvas here and there.

I worked on other pieces, and at the end was rewards by getting to unwrap the paper protecting the red layer and reveal a bit of what the piece will look like.

I left the bottom layer more raw and rough, more texture in the canvas, the edges a little unraveled in places, the paint itself more textured.  I want it to be all rawness.

Next time it will be the outside stitches and some more temporary center stitches.  The final ones will be red like those in the background… more rawness, and I want them to stand out cleanly against the skin tones.  If I don’t do temporary stitches first and put the red ones after the painting part is done they just won’t stand apart enough.  When it’s done the gap will close, but with obvious tension and a little bunching.

This piece comes from one friend’s story of being a bi-racial girl visiting her white grandmother in the South in the early 80’s.  It may ring true with other people caught between identities to do with skin color, but it was inspired by her particular story and is not meant to be a general statement.

I think the best way to approach the social issues I want to discuss is one person at a time.  Different people’s stories as they are given to me.  …or everyone equally at the same time without any narrative at all, completely open like this one.  It is incredibly important to me to tell people’s stories, to include many different kinds of people in my work.  With my participatory work this is more obvious, but it happens one way or another in all my work.  I am trying to get at human things.  Previous posts on this piece (1, 2, 3)

Written by Mary Corey March

May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

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