Wrestling in the studio.
I started out with several strategies in mind for how on earth I would get the look I wanted.
Last post I was debating doing a plaster positive. I ended up doing it as a backup, though it was too wet to use that day. It turns out it’s a good thing I did because it was essential today!
Sculpturally the easiest material to use for get the effect I wanted would have been paper- I could simply create a large Venetian-technique mask over the stretcher bars. But for me it had to be canvas. I love subverting the traditional medium of oil-on-canvas to make it do new and interesting things. I love it when people look at my sculpted canvases or skin painting and assume it must be other materials. I love the idea of canvas becoming skin too- a surface face we show the world. I seem to like making things difficult.
So… it must be canvas. In the end I did hours of elaborate propping, stretching, cutting, sewing, picking out stitches, weighing down, pinching etc. I was having a rotten time of it until I remembered to think about canvas as fabric again with more of a seamstress brain on. It needed to have some folds in the flat parts to make up volume for the raised mask part. Interestingly that’s how I first sketched it. Once I had that it was still a struggle to get the canvas to behave, but I got it there.
I did this time mix a small amount of plaster into my gesso, but that’s still not outside of classical painting anymore than wax is.
I had to run from the studio before I poked at it in some fatal way.
The edges and eye-holes will be re-cut, and after I reinforce the back of the mask I will be working the rest of the canvas a bit to stretch it into the frame. I will need to remove the whole thing, re-work it, do the back painting and then stretch this one in front. I ended up changing the diagonal at the last minute. I like the idea of the background painting soaring up and to the right while the mask looks down a bit. That was another tricky piece of this. I did not want the mask dead-on. It had to be turning slightly to the side. Dead-on would have been easier, but more static and a bit more trite. This one will have more intensity.