Monday, June 25, 2012

Frame Update

Well the painting is drying. I thought I'd post an update of the frame work. We left our intrepid hero half naked and covered with shards of epoxy clay. I added some crosses (crudely hacked from some rolled out bits - I used a silicone rolling pin so that the clay wouldn't stick but actually it did stick so I waited an hour then rolled it again and it was fine). Then I painted the whole thing in a thin coat of chocolate brown. Here it is...

And here is a closeup of the scene in the arch. Are these figures mourners or are they reverent monks? The answer is both at once, depending on how you feel at the time.

The next step is decoration. I used Golden Fluid Acrylics for that brown. I like these a lot, and they can be watered down a lot too, handling loads better than the thick acrylics that come in tubes. I've not got many colours (they cost about £20 a bottle!) but I don't need that many to decorate frames. I still want them all though. Naturally.

Here are some plaster casts I've made to experiment with. More are on the go. I've learned that watery grey is good for simulating "dust" but I've not perfected anything yet. I've got three iridescent colours; bronze (a good opaque goldy colour, perhaps best used on it's own), bright gold (very light yellow and transparent, this is very shiny and metallic and wonderful for highlights - my favourite but has to be carefully layered because it's not strong on it's own and looks very sickly and yellow) and silver (disappointing and useless so far - best mixed with blues or pinks to make a nacre effect, although pearlescent white might be better for that).

Here are my first results although it's hard to see what they are like on screen. Most have lots of layers.

The rich reddy golds (Venetian red? light red? terra rosa? something like that - Golden simply call it red oxide) probably look better in this photo (although actually the golds are so wonderful that in real life these all look loads better). The centre is plain brown and light gold. Rather delicate actually and very metallic, almost like cast iron. I'll keep these samples for future reference. I'm still not that happy with any one and will cast another six or more before deciding on a colour for my precious frame.

I'll post a picture of a new painting soon. The leaping tiger is nearly dry enough to scan! That one is being professionally framed by Bailey's near Nantwich. They do an excellent job and I like to have a mix of styles of frame. It's so important that each painting looks its absolute best.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Moulding for Dummies

I've been busy this month working on the God Being Killed painting that will feature an elaborate frame. I thought I'd share the process I used for making it. I've enjoyed working with a few new materials so far, and today I've been playing with silicone mould making material.

The first stages of the frame were quite straightforward. As with any frame I began with a wooden frame that fitted the painting. On top of that I added an arch, which I made by layering lots of sheets of MDF. to make a thick block of wood, then jigsawing the arch hole from it. Then I glued it to another piece of MDF to make the back.

When fitting it, it was essential that it remained flat and in the middle so I attached it in two stages. First I painted the top of the frame and the bottom of the arch with dilute PVA. The plan was to make it less absorbent and make a good hold for the next step, an idea I got from wall plastering. Then I glued the two halves together using acrylic mouldling paste, which is essentially acrylic plaster. I thought that acrylic would make a good glue and act like a filler too, making the imperfect join fit well by filling in any gaps. It worked as planned and a few hours later I found I could lift the frame without the heavy top falling off, which is important!

However I'd be foolish to rely on glue to hold something that heavy so I then drilled and screwed the top. It was important to glue first because If I'd have drilled and screwed first it might not have been straight.

Here it is at that stage...

Next, was an easy but messy step, to pour plaster all over it. After that, and trimming off the edges it looked like this...

That's pretty much how it is now. I've painted it with epoxy casting resin today, which will toughen it up a bit and help stick it to the frame (I covered the wood with PVA first to help the plaster stick, but every little helps). I'm not 100% sure about the epoxy being ideal, although it must surely toughen things up. In tests it seems to sink into the plaster and not toughen it too much, at least I've managed to smash it when trying! More tests are needed I think...

I want to add some moulded shapes of chess pieces and other bits so I got some silicone to make moulds from. It was really gloopy stuff. It's mixed with a catalyst with a simple 10:1 weight ratio so I used my trusty digital scale to measure a plastic cup full out and stirred it up with great difficulty! It pours slowly, but sets just like rubber. I wonder if I can make rubber stamps with it? It might repulse the ink. Maybe that's a good thing for a stamp?

I began with some chess pieces and set them half in plaster in plastic boxes. I topped these up with the silicon and the results were great. The only problem was removing the lot from the box! I also wasted quite a lot of the stuff, casting a big block of rubber for some quite small objects.

For a second bacth of objects I improved the process by using Lego walls to hold the silicone. That was much easier, and the stuff wasn't so fluid that it seeped out of the walls (unlike the watery epoxy, which would have I just know it!). Another advantage with Lego is that you can build the shape you want, saving waste and it's easier to dismantle.

I'll use epoxy clay to make my mouldings, because I want to bend them when setting them in place. The rippled frame would make it awkward to stick a solid flat object down with ease too.

For now I'll leave this for a few days. Tomorrow I'm painting the last stages of the tiger (if it's dry enough), off on Saturday to see the Shrewsbury College end of year art show, then some more end of year shows in Manchester on Sunday, back in time to paint the second layer on this god painting next week... if the last layer is dry enough. We have the light but this summer has been so cold that it feels forever autumn (now if this was a radio broadcast then it would be time for a song).

Ta ta for now.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Mechanauts (and Other Stories)

Greetings blog humans! I've not blogged in a while, caught up with the more socially intense world of Facebook but yes it's now time to reblog.

News part one! My exhibition in Sevens in Macclesfield took place. The opening was scant and/or spartan but I sold a watercolour and a poetry book on that day, and two prints over the course of the exhibition. The biggest benefit was that I was forced to calculate the prices and appropriate print size for each painting. I did this by typing the width/height of every painting into a spreadsheet, and calculating the aspect ratio to eliminate the most unusual shapes. Then I tallied this with a list of standard print sizes (12x10, 16x12, 20x16 etc. etc.) and typing those, their cost and other factors (like a commission value) into a separate sheet. More to do on this, as it's a complicated formula.

News two! I've added a shopping cart system to my website. It's crude but wasn't too hard using $SESSION variables. This was created to make it easier to buy sound effects on my sound effects website IndieSFX, but should prove useful. My music is now available to buy that way, as are digital prints.

News three! Painting! Here is Triumph of the Mechanauts. This for a competition with a theme of a dystopian future. An alternative title is Two Victorian Time Travellers Discovering Technological Lovelessness in the Year 2791. It's about the death of emotion.

It's been a disappointing month regarding competitions and entry into exhibitions, however my faith in my abilities is stronger than ever, and my work and mindset is back to the good days of 2006, 2007, 2008 which were better years than 2010 and 2011. My ultrafaith in future artworks is undiminished. In 100 years time I'm sure that the most famous and renowned artist of this time will be me, and yet to be in this exact position of obscurity and freedom and the correct modicum of insanity and isolation is ideal for creativity to flourish. I have three other paintings underpainted and awaiting completion; a leaping tiger, a flagellation of Christ (which took about a week but I might throw away as I never really liked it) and a third painting which was to replace it called God Being Killed by Theists and Atheists. Both of those are on the theme of religious violence for the Religionis Violenta competition. How more violent could we get than the death of God?

The painting was inspired by a epic tragedy related to me by a stranger, one which caused him to deny the existence of God and then become fervently religious. I'm atheist myself, although I do not object to religion because I think it's good for society and exists for logical social scientific reasons, because a stable society demands it. I don't believe anyone really believes in God. The thought that there might actually be a giant invisible man controlling everything is obviously ridiculous. Moved by the story and urgently needing a new painting I idea I spent a day alone and later in darkness the idea appeared in one; God dying in the sky, as evil priests (and initially demons) faced monkeys (representing atheists) over a chess board. On the horizon was a small crucifix. In the sky circled many crucifixes, in panic and stabbing and swirling. The calm cross on the horizon gives a contrast to the rest of the painting and as a representation of Jesus makes the painting devoutly religious; amidst the confused monkeys and corruption of the earthly church there is Christ. Yet, a day later I realised that the crucifix was a gravestone, God was dead and religion was dead, so my unconscious had magically made a painting with simultaneous dual meanings, devout religion and devout atheism in one.

I will complete this painting this month. It would work best on an epic scale but I don't have the time or storage space for something like that.

There are lots of other things to tell, like One Moment In Time, a community art project for Jubilee Monday I'm doing, music news and other things but that must come later for it's time for a cup of tea.