Thursday, September 3, 2009

Experiments with Grounds - 3

"Creeping Tide"
9x12, oil/panel - SOLD

This next trial consisted of my old standby, Blick Master Gesso - but with only two coats, not my usual three. Also, I didn't sand between coats, leaving the surface a bit rough.

This one performed more like the Ampersand Gessobord. Still a tad slippery, but not anywhere near as bad as with three coats of Blick Master Gesso. The gesso wasn't as "thirsty" as the traditional gesso panel from Howard & Daniel Corp. but it took the paint well. I had no problem painting wet-into-wet with this one.

I suppose one could go with a single coat of Blick Master Gesso - the jar label states as much - but I wonder if it really would be a sufficient barrier to protect the hardboard from the acidic oils found in oil paint. Unlike traditional gesso, which requires that the panel be "sized" and sealed first, most acrylic gessoes already contain sizing and can be applied directly. (By the way, artist David Rourke has an excellent recipe for making traditional gesso panels here: Typically, according to Robert Gamblin, four coats of acrylic gesso are required.

A reader asked me recently if I had close-ups of my tests; I do not. As I told him, my work with grounds is not as rigorous as a scientist might like it to be. My goal is to find a painting surface that works well with my method. At a future date, I'll be doing a real test, complete with absorbency evaluations, test swatches and more.


Sharon said...

Michael, I would like to ask you about your prices. Your prices for a 9x12" vary from $750 to $150. Could you please explain your rationale for how you price your work?

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

My rationale is simple, really. Work that I consider "finished" and would put in one of my galleries, I price at my current gallery prices; work that is more of a sketch (such as a workshop demonstration), I price lower. So, you may see a "finished" 9x12 marked as $750 and a 9x12 sketch, $150. Also, I have been playing a bit with the sketch price to see what works.

Several artists I know have a variable scale; work that they feel is of high quality, they price a bit higher. It is hard to be the absolute judge of one's work, though. I am sometimes surprised by what appeals to some buyers, but some find a connection to a piece that works for them.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Also, work that has a pedigree - e.g. that has been in a national show - I will price even higher.

Sharon said...

I get your rationale -I was just curious about the VARIATION of prices that you have for the 'less than gallery priced' work. I wonder if putting in a sliding scale by how well you think it came off doesn't send a message to your buyers about the quality of the work that you as the artist perceive.
And thanks for the quick response!

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Well, not to be glib about it, but car makers have a similar approach. You can get the low-end sedan which doesn't have the most comfortable seats and lacks an MP3 jack, or you can get the high-end one which has all that plus a built-in GPS. I feel that folks who can't afford a $250 "sketch" might be able to buy a $100 one, even if I personally may feel my peformance wasn't quite spot-on that day.