Sunday, November 1, 2009

Between mischief & control

WORK IN PROGRESS ...


One of my favorite songs is Vonda Shepherd’s Mischief and Control, and that song came to mind as I was working on this painting this afternoon. The technique I used on the foreground area, using a painting knife to get that wild texture of the grasses, is an interesting balance of intention and serendipity.

I had a general idea of the shape and color of the grass mass (fun to say ... go ahead, out loud: “grass mass”) ...


... and then, a little bit at a time (because of the fast acrylic drying time), using the knife like a butter knife, I spread a dark neutral color over some of the grass and with the edge and point of the knife proceeded to scrape it off with abandon, using mostly upward strokes ...




I just kept adding layers and scraping them off until I thought the grass looked done, more or less.


The “control” was the general shape of the grass, and my decision to go from darker and more red at the left end to brighter and more golden on the right end. When I was finished adding layers I also added a few grass blades with very deliberate shape and direction in certain strategic spots. I tried to make them very calligraphic so they would seem spontaneous like the rest. You could probably pick those out if you tried, but only the artist knows for sure!

The “mischief” was the unplanned scrapes and criss-crosses, and how much paint would actually come off with each scrape, and how some of the color in the new layers would get stuck in the nooks and crannies of the underlying texture, making even more texture.

Then I started losing the light, so I’ll start again in the morning ... I can’t wait!

4 comments:

Denise R said...

So cool Karen! I love seeing your work in progress. When you scrape the paint off after putting a new layer on, it is kinda dry or still wet? I know all the acrylics dry at a different rate but I am wondering if you have paint 'flaking' off or building up wet on your knife as you scrape? Cool process!

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

Hey Denise! Great questions ...

I try to do the scraping with the paint still mostly wet. It helps to spread the paint on kind of thick, and then do the scraping. Sometimes I’ll do a thinner layer on purpose and if it starts drying too quickly I’ll spread a little glaze medium by itself over the paint and then start scraping ... that’s a pretty cool effect, too.

The scraped off paint does build up wet on my knife. Sometimes I’ll leave it so little bits of it get deposited back onto the painting as I’m scraping, but if I want a little more control over the color in a certain area, I’ll wipe the knife off every few scrapes.

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

Oh, and sometimes I’ll scrape harder on purpose to flake off some of the paint on already dry layers underneath the current wetter layer. You can get some pretty neat stuff that way, too.

Keep on experimenting ... that’s what keeps your art growing!

Lana Gramlich said...

Great to see how artists do what they do. Thanks for sharing your technique for foreground grasses here. I've never tried that, myself. (Palette knives & I aren't quite "friends" yet. *L*)