Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Duh! Moments

I was talking to my studio mate, Beloved Bolton, today and she mentioned that she recently had a "duh" moment when she "discovered" a method for painting that she thought was so obvious. We laughed over how sometimes the most obvious things don't come to us so obviously. This, of course, got me thinking about my own "duh" moments, some of which were recent "discoveries" despite my countless hours of painting in the last 5 years.

When I was working on my "Nature" series, I used to draw each and every single leaf that I would then transfer onto my wax. I was using countless layers of wax and imbedding the carbon drawing transfers in between them. I drew a lot of leaves some of them MANY times over! It wasn't until I made over 10 paintings and drew almost a 100 leaves that I realized that if I photo copied the leaves, I could do photo transfers in my paintings and save countless hours on drawing the same leaves over and over again.  DUH!  The paintings didn't look any different and I was able to get a lot more work done.

Painting with each individual leaf hand drawn. There are 14 leaves in this painting.

This painting has photocopies of hand drawn leaves transferred on the wax.

I have been painting on wood panels for the past 5 years yet only recently did I "discover" that if I sand the panel before or even after I gessoed it, it's actually a lot easier to paint on. I would occasionally have to paint on some pretty rough boards and thought that this is what I would have to suffer through since I used panels. You would think that sanding the boards would have been pretty obvious, but it wasn't until only a couple of months ago. I could blame it on the fact that I didn't go to art school or majored in art, but really, I think it was just one of those obvious things you just don't realize for no reason at all. It wasn't until I watched another studio-mate, Scott Inguito, sanding his canvas after applying gesso, that I thought it would make my life easier to do that to my panels. Sometimes I'm not very bright.

The last thing I "figured out" recently was that if I put a heating pad underneath my panels as I am waxing them, the wax stays warm and getting a completely smooth surface, without pock marks, is a hell of a lot easier that without a heating pad. I knew that people have mentioned using a heating pad or an electric blanket under their panels while painting with encaustics. I guess I just ignored them. I must have figured that since I was only painting the final layer of my painting in clear wax, I didn't really need the heating pad. One day, I finally remembered that I had one and tried it. Between the heating pad and adding a few more layers of wax than what I was used too, It was pretty simple to get a pretty smooth surface. My life became easier! 

Sometimes the most obvious things take awhile for us to figure out. This happens a lot in math and I notice that sometimes it takes kids a moment to notice the most obvious answers. I didn't think it would happen so much with art too. It happens to all of us. It can sometimes make us feel not so bright, but the rewards of finally "getting it" definitely out-weighs that feeling quickly.

In case you are wondering, here is the update on my beehive painting. I got a lot of work done today but it's still not finished. I will eventually cover the eyes also so for those of you who hate it when I do that, you know where to send the hate mail. ;-)

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