It has been a busy couple of weeks since my last post, with school starting for the whole family. In the midst of it all I have managed to start and complete several new projects. The first is the restoration of a painting that was punctured and scraped. So far I have patched the hole and re-set the original material salvaged from the edges of the damaged area. The next step will be to fill the voids left by the puncture, and then on to the fun part– matching and applying the new colors. This is accomplished by the use of powdered pigments with Damar resin as a vehicle. Because the puncture occurred in a relatively clear area of the painting, it will be a challenge to make the repair disappear.
a selection from the new set of ink landscapes
I opened a new container of ink only to find that the “velvet black” was actually a deep indigo with a red undertone. It was a pleasant surprise, and fell right into line with the night landscapes that I am simultaneously painting with oils (but are not yet presentable enough to post). The painting above is shown in its first state. I continue to experiment with the tongue-and-groove backing which leaves a “wooden floor” image and embossing on the paper. Originally this was accomplished with the studio floor, but later I made a section of “flooring” specifically for this use.
core structure of the bench before cladding
The other new project is this bench, which will be clad with 5/16″ tongue-and-groove oak flooring as its final surface. I designed the piece t0 be built out of surplus/scrap wood and finished with reclaimed lumber. Hardwood floors have edged into every aspect of my work. I appreciate the floor’s relation to my landscape paintings where looking down becomes a means of understanding what is above us. Staring at the floor is an overt gesture of withdrawal, but what I am cultivating is introspective rather than anti-social behavior. If a viewer can make that distinction then the reclusive act is transformed into a particular form of sharing. In the mean time the pursuit of the spirit by way of the flesh, the intangible by way of the tangible, and the transcendent by way of the practical remain central to my interests.
photograph of sea shell "stone" with ink painting as context
When I am working in the studio I like to skip around between the many projects that are underway, and I always enjoy starting new ones. In between paintings last week I started working on some possible ways of resolving two bodies of work with which I have been unsatisfied. One is a collection of worm-eaten shells similar to those featured in a previous post. The other is a set of landscape paintings executed in ink on rice paper. The shells were objects without a home, and the paintings were homes without an object. These works in progress (I’ve posted two of them, above) are direct descendants of the photographs that I took in South Carolina this summer, with the significant change being the stage-like shift to a painted backdrop. I’ve been reworking the photographs digitally, and we will just have to wait to see where they go.
For the past six years or so I have been trying to reconcile the tangible and intangible aspects of media and images. With these ink wash paintings on rice paper, I use a plastic backing instead of blotters in order to super-saturate the paper and preserve wrinkles when the paper dries. I work the images from both sides until I settle on the “front”. Although in the past I have used white tempera to reclaim lights, lately I have begun to use torn paper. I’ve also torn pre-painted sheets of rice paper in order to match or contrast existing tones. The physicality of the wrinkles and the torn paper provide a counterpoint to the otherwise intangible tendencies of the ink wash. The paintings above are still in progress. They are interpretations of the landscapes that I appreciated while in Italy, filtered through memory and adjusted as compositional experiments.