Artist's Prayer

Give us Your daily Inspiration
So, we can live a Creative Life.
And lead us away from self-doubt,
For to doubt our creativity
Is to doubt Your Voice within us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Plywood, Cheese Cloth, And Plastic Lids...

What had begun as a background for my 4-collage series, has transformed into a mixed media piece in its own right. I've been working on it for over three days, applying layers after layers of paint, gels, gesso mixtures, and vanrnish while intermittently removing gesso applications... on and on and on....

I bought a 2'x2' plywood board at my local Menard's store and begun my work with an initial intention for it to become a mounting background for my four collages. Once again I'm reminded that I have no idea what is to Be~come ... I ask questions and my only effort is to stay open and let whatever is coming forth to take form.
I want to take a 'time out' at this point. Please know that I DO HAVE DOUBTS all along the way.... the so called 'better idea' is always making a very strong case for its very own 'raison d'etre' ~ and I try to let it be heard and acknowledged. I think 'mindfulness' is the closest approximation for this inner dialogue. I observe and do my best to refrain from the judgement as long as I can, but eventually I go back to 'blind faith.' And 'blind' just might be a keyword in my current piece as I, and you probably, too, can see the 'intermediate' steps that are more esthetically appealing than the later stages. I feel as though the images that are, by now, hidden deep below the subsequent layers of paint and acrylic gel mediums will stay forever unknown, except for the plywood strata itself, my camera, and my own memory of the images that had emerged in front of my eyes before changing their form for yet another time...
My camera had witnessed tens of snapshots, but I'd try to limit my expose below to a small enough number to prevent any thumb-wrist spasms.....

Priming plywood with couple layers of acrylic gesso.
My new tool of choice, a kitchen utensil comes handy while working with an oversize background and it $1 at a Dollar Store. I smeared few hues of red ~ Golen Heavy Body Acrylics Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Naphthol Red Medium, Pyrole Red... and yellows ~ Indian Yellow and Nickel Azo Yellow.
I poured a hefty layer of Golden Self-Leveling Clear Gel mixed with Interference Red Oxide over the entire surface.
While the gel mixture was still wet I used a plastic lid from one of the 8oz. gel jars and begun to pressed against the surface in a patterned fashion.
Using my palette knife I smeared Pyrrole Red sporadically trying to acentuate the texture of indented circles.
Another round of circular pattern, this time I used an old lid from one of the plastic containers and applied a mixture of Payness Gray and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) to its rim before depressing it against the surface.
More gesso layers, this time a very thinned down one to cover the entire piece.
I scraped off the still wet gesso with a palette knife to reveal the uneven texture of plywood and previous gel applications.
I used a dish washing sponge, both soft and abrasive sides to wash off the remaining gesso and bring back some translucency. Please know that before applying gesso layers which I had intended to wash off afterwords I applied two layers of varnish to protect paint layers from color bleed. Though I didn't post those photos I used varnish layers intermittently between coats of paint.
I applied a semi-thick coat of Golden Heavy Gel Gloss in a quiet uneven manner.
Next I added more circles, this time looking for more depth to those impressions thanks to the heavy gel consistency. For color I chose Golden Liquid Yellow Green.
After two coats of varnish I gave a wash of gesso one more shot....
.... and scrubbing, too.....
Yet another layer of Golden Soft Gel Semi-Gloss mixed with Irridescent Gold (Fine).

I used this rubber comb-like tool that's very useful in removing paint layers while leaving behind wonderful patterned texture.

In the above photo I'm painting cheese cloth with a thinned down Phthalo Blue using a 2'' brush. That was my first time of painting cheese cloth ~ suffice to say ~ a tricky to control strata and a messy-messy process....

I placed cheese cloth on the surface of the panel and begun to pour another mixture of Golden Self-Leveling Clear Gel with Interference Red Oxide.

Using my palette knife I spreaded the above mixture throughout the cheese cloth and wood.

More varnish to seal fibers and the underlying layers.

~to be continued....


  1. So interesting! I have never worked on plywood. A masterpiece in the making! ...April

  2. Fascinating, can't wait to see the end result.

  3. thanX grils, your suport is pricelss!

  4. Such a nice BIG piece of plywood you used. Your paint colors and gels look yummy to play with. Do you plan out your steps or do you just plunge right in and just let the process take over? I'm glad you used cheesecloth. I've got some in my studio just calling to me, well, now maybe I'll play with some. Thanks for sharing creative techniques! Very cool. Can't wait for more!