Evolution - How I Paint

In creating this site I realize that the traditional description of the mediums used in my work aren't really accurate. 'Acrylic' might mean acrylic, but it also might might mean acrylic AND modeling paste and/or glitter. Yes, even glitter. So, here's a little tour of how my techniques and materials have changed over the years.

I started dabbling in art in 2004 after a corporate downsizing. It turned out to be a very effective way of helping me through the unexpected change in my life.  

Never formally trained in fine art (does high school art count?), I began just by having a little fun. Walking up and down the aisles at Michaels and dropping random items into my basket. 

My first creation was the little sculpture I call Atlantis. (You can find it on the 'Sculptures' page.) A tiny universe in blues and whites, made with plywood, styrofoam balls, dowels and cheap acrylic paint. I really had no plan or sense of the finished product as it slowly evolved.  However, my intuition seemed to know what to do, and I just followed its little nudges until this pretty cool little family of stars (or maybe they are planets) sat there, looking at me.

I was hooked. Over time, the materials evolved into exotic woods and metal. I needed sanders of various sizes and strengths (even a belt sander!). Cheap acrylic paints evolved into a variety of mediums and metallics. Feathers, crystals, copper wire, and stones made appearances too.

Over time, I tired of the small scale of these "Tabletop Universes". Let's try concrete! I was blessed at the time with having a large garage, and spent many hours creating.

'Duality' (Sculptures page) was an early attempt. Followed by a six foot diameter replica of Stonehenge. I also started a 7x scale of 'Atlantis'. Wouldn't it be COOL to be able to walk between those spheres in a park somewhere? Hundreds of hours I worked on those pieces. In the hot humid Florida summer, completely covered in overalls and goggles. Lost a lot of weight AND learned a lot about how to actually make a large structure that could be installed outside, and about additives that made the concrete more resilient to weather. 

When I moved and started traveling for work, I was no longer able to create at that scale or in that medium. After moving and storing the many boxes containing all the new 'Atlantis' components a few times (multiple moves) I finally let it all go. But I still needed, wanted to create.

During quiet nights in various hotels, I started, well, dabbling. I wouldn't call it painting.  That's where the little symbols came from ('Symbols' page.). Pieces of paper small enough to fit in my suitcase at the end of a week. Talk about a big switch, from huge concrete, to a sheet of paper.

In time, the travel ended and the painting started. On canvas. I tried oils. Heard that 'real' artists only use oils. But I hate it. Takes FOR-EVER to dry. So, I guess I'm not a real artist. I like acrylics. LOVE metallic fabric paints (Lumiere by Jacquard) even better! They all are friendly with each other, mixing, matching, layering over each other just fine.  

One day that little intuitive voice asked me to incorporate glitter in one of my paintings. (It was 'Puzzle' on the Geometrics page.) I drew the line. NO. NO way. Glitter is NOT appropriate. But the painting stalled out and pouted. Fine. I got some glitter. And I must say the painting popped afterwards.  

Another more recent example is "Hunting Eagle" (on the Birds page). It has gold glitter for its eye, but that's it. And it made all the difference with that painting. So, now glitter is one more element that I may, or may not include, in my work. But I'm a glitter snob. Nothing but Stickles by Ranger will do.  BTW - gold leafing can really make a painting pop too.  The 'sun' and the light tendrils in "Illumination" (Cosmic page) are made with gold leafing.

With some of the larger paintings I prefer to use my hands instead of brushes, to get the size 'brush'-strokes I want. It sometimes requires swaying my entire body back and forth, almost like dancing. 

As you might have figured out by now, I am a restless soul. Painting on canvas evolved to murals. On large un-stretched lengths of canvas (later stretched on custom-made frames), and also on walls. Big, full immersion work.

Moved again. It was a few years til I had the time and space to create again. Back to canvasses. This time the idea of adding a 3D element to the image intrigued me. Modeling paste has become an intrinsic part, the foundational structure, of most of my work since then. Sometimes subtle, sometimes built up almost an inch off the canvas. Working the paste is a bit like sculpting, and it's one of my favorite parts of creating these days.

My most recent evolution has been the use of natural earth pigments instead of pre-pigmented branded paints. "Once Upon a Time in Monument Valley" (the only piece so far on the Landscape page) was created solely with natural earth pigments, mixed with either modeling paste, transparent mixing medium and/or glue. I also incorporated sand into the painting for texture (AND cat litter - but please don't tell anyone about that. For SURE, I won't be taken seriously as an artist!).

And so, the journey of creative expression continues. Perhaps my story will encourage you to try some new things in your life. You just never know where an open mind will take you!