Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Doodling on gesso

I have been trying out some ideas today ahead of putting some visual proposals together.  A long time ago I experimented with tempera paints and that involved making gesso from scratch - a smelly business - and applying it in many layers to sheets of MDF before sanding it down to a glass-like finish.

This is a very old technique, employed by many early painters before oil on canvas became the gold standard for painting.  And even when painters moved on to oil, their technique owed much to tempera painting.

Tempera is powdered pigment mixed with egg yolk used as the binding agent.  The paint is thinned with water and is fast drying.  It shares some of these properties with acrylic and I am experimenting with acrylics on a gesso primed panel.  Layers of gesso are laid on with a brush and then sanded down so that the surface is very smooth.  It is a very tedious process.

But I want to explore a technique that allows me more control than the painting method I normally employ when I do my landscape paintings.  A 'painterly' (ridiculous word, but you know what I mean) approach is all well and good when the image can move in any direction you want, but I want to do some more controlled pictures where readability is going to be essential and where I need to be able to predict the outcome more.

I have been playing around today and this was one of the results.  Having said all that stuff about predictability, this image changed radically from the drawing as it started (he had hair and a more normal nose) but this was a doodle and nothing more.

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