From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Wrestling in the studio.

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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.

The clothespin on the nose cracked me up. It worked though! I was amazed to find one in the studio.

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.

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Written by marycoreymarch

July 13, 2012 at 4:14 am

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