Saturday, July 18, 2015

Some 8x8s - And About Gallery-Wrap Canvas

Passage 8x8 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
(Mulholland Lighthouse, Campobello Island, New Brunswick)
Available - $170 includes shipping

Above is one of four little paintings I made recently.  I'm experimenting with two things in these.  First, with gallery-wrap canvas.  I long have had an objection to this method of frameless presentation, partly because it is so often badly done.  Either the edge is painted a flat color, which can be uninteresting, or the image on the front is continued around the edges with the same degree of detail, which creates an unrealistic, high level of focus throughout the painting.  For mine, I've toned the canvases with Gamblin's transparent red earth Fastmatte oil paint to give them a warm tone.  On the edges, I've continued the coloration of the shapes in a simplified manner, forgoing detail.  The peripheral areas of a scene are never seen with the same focus as what you are looking at directly.  The periphery is always softer, more simplified, and my approach mimics this effect.  In some cases, I left the warm orange-red tone revealed.  I really like the look-and-feel of these little paintings.

Showing the edge of the gallery-wrap canvas, no overpainting,just the undertone

Showing the edge of the gallery-wrap canvas, overpainting over the undertone

Second, I'm experimenting with representing the scenes as a collection of simplified shapes.  A knife works well for this, since I can block in a shape with a few swipes and then add complexity with successive layers of color rather than by brushing on detail.  Objects are identified more by the profile of the silhouette than by what is within the silhouette.   (You can tell a maple from a spruce by the shape's contour; leaves are not necessary.)  Also, because of the way thick paint behaves at the knife's edge, detail happens automatically, and it can be surprisingly realistic.

These are all 8x8, which is a rather small canvas.  Next, I'll be working with a triple square – 8x24 – and I'll post those after I paint a few.

Here are the other three paintings:

Ready to Paint 8x8 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
(Lubec, Maine)
Available - $170 includes shipping

Hillside Harbor - 8x8 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
(Lubec, Maine)

East Quoddy Lighthouse 8x8 oil/canvas by Michael Chesley Johnson
(Campobello Island, New Brunswick)

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