Sunday, January 17, 2010

Absorbent Ground for Oil

"Boynton Canyon Cliffs"
9x12, oil

We drove out to Boynton Canyon this week. Boynton Canyon is not only home to the Enchantment Resort but also a very popular spot for vortex enthusiasts. For those of you who don't know what a vortex is, it's a New Age concept. A vortex is a geographical location that puts off energy vibrations. According to one source, the Boynton Canyon vortex strengthens the yin/yang balance.

I don't know much about yin/yang and even less about vortexes, but I do know Boynton Canyon gets a lot of hikers and vortex tourists. We arrived early, long before the trailhead parking lot filled. Since we made sure to set up far away from the trailhead, no one bothered us. From this parking lot, there are good views of the cliffs that tower over the canyon. Little puffy clouds drifted in over the cliff tops, making for a pretty scene.

I went to work in my usual manner on a 9x12 I had grabbed out of my stack of Ampersand Gessobord. However, with my very first brush stroke, which consisted of some dark paint thinned just the tiniest bit with Gamsol, I noted something was wrong. The paint seemed to dry almost instantly, giving a broken stroke. I added more Gamsol, but it happened again. "Gosh," I remarked, "is it that warm out here?" But it was only 50 degrees. My student suggested maybe the wind was drying out the paint, but we were on the leeward side of a big juniper. Still, the paint was acting almost like an alkyd on a hot day.

Then it hit me. What the heck was I painting on? I put down my brush and flipped over the panel. The stamp read "Claybord." And that solved it. I'd bought a few panels of Claybord to experiment with later this winter. But I had wanted it to be mentally prepared for the experiment! Once I'd figured out my mistake, though, I began painting with gusto. I enjoyed the way I could lay down a stroke and almost immediately lay down another on top of it without getting mud. Also, scumbling was a snap. You can't do that with wet oil paint.

I've included a detail shot of the painting below so you can see the strokes.


billspaintingmn said...

Bravo! Michael this looks fresh as
a new born babe!
I did a paint last night after reading your last post.
I put down a brush stroke and left it alone.
I moved on through the painting
rather quickly.
Sure I was tempted to fiddle or "fix" a couple, but did'nt.
I enjoyed painting that way, and will continue to.
Tomarrow I will see it for the fist time since it was painted.
I think this is going to help me
concentrate on the stroke, and how it can comunicate for me.
Thanks for your post!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Bill! Glad you're trying the "let it stay" approach. Good luck and keep painting!

Carolyn Jean Thompson said...

It was interesting to hear how the claybord behaved. When I try to underpaint on pastelbord (which also has clay on it) it too behaves very differently than other surfaces.

Rick said...

How did the clay board work out? Would you use it to intentionally make scumbling "a snap"?

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Carolyn - Are you doing oil on the Pastelbord? Or pastel with a turps or alcohol wash?

Rick - I *love* the Claybord. I'll definitely be using it more.