Friday, March 21, 2008

CoLlaBoraTIvE pAiNtInG

“desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything”…napoleon hill

It all started with a generous sized painting that my Grandma had given me a while back. I can vividly remember it hanging in her living room all the while I was growing up, and when she finally decided to part with it, I had moved into our house in Madison county, (familiar with the Bridges of Madison County?) so the fact that the painting had a covered bridge on it was more than fitting. (even Francesca’s house is just a hop, skip and a jump away from my place!) Well, I hung it, as is, in my living room for a while and to be honest, the bridge and its’ size are about the only things that have kept me hangin’ on…. it just wasn't doin' it for me and I’ve been wanting to take on this painting for years. And, I finally did. By taking it on, I simply mean, taking what’s already there and changing it up to better suit what I like. A creative process that is great fun, by the way. It’s a less intimidating art project for some people to tackle, because you already have a starting point. For some reason, staring at a large, blank canvas scares the bejeebies out of some people and with this project, somebody’s already got you started, all you need to do is further things along in your own creative direction. I did do a little research on the piece before adding my two cents worth, and found out my grandma had purchased it at a furniture store in the 70’s and a google search on the name didn’t bring it up on any valuable collector’s list, so as far as I was concerned….painting game on!
(This free form style of painting you can’t go wrong with and you can go just about any direction you want with how you paint and make your enhancements. It’s an exhilarating creative exercise and I highly recommend it to all of you! There’s nothing more fun than tossing paint around. Score some old paintings from the thrift store or yard sales and have at it!)
Here was my process: (which, by the way, took only half a day to be done and hung!)
Protect and Save – I taped off a few areas that I wanted to show through in the end. They were, of course, the bridge, a tree, a cluster of leaves and a clearing at the base of the trees. I also protected the signature at the bottom. My thought was to later go back in and build those features up.
I used painter’s tape with torn edges and then sealed the edges with matte medium to prevent any of my paint from seeping through.
I knew I was going to be hanging it on the brick wall in my bedroom, so I chose my color scheme accordingly, while at the same time, just working with whatever leftover paint I had lying around. I used everything from house paint to artist colors. I also knew that I wanted to just drip and splatter paint over it, so I gathered up a few of the empty condiment squirt bottles and filled them with paint. For my first pass, I layered up about three different colors in the bottle. I figured however they came out would be just fine.
I started by squirting a series of lines vertically to go with the flow of the original tree line. I didn’t figure going perpendicular with the trees would look as pleasing, but I’ll never know now, will I?! I continued to drizzle paint, adding this color and that color. I changed up how I drizzled it on, making my motions more of a ‘toss’, changing the distance I was dropping the paint from to alter the effect and I made sure that all my drips and splatters carried out beyond the edges of the frame. I used a large palette knife to knock down some of the drizzles here and there, wrote ‘crossing bridges’ with my squirt bottle across the center and then let it dry for a bit and removed the tape (when using the matte medium to seal your edges, you’ll have to use a sharp blade to carefully start lifting up the tape.)
I didn’t want those taped off areas to just sit flat, so I raised them up and gave them a bit of texture. I mixed a bit of caulk with my paint to texturize the bridge; I used caulk and sawdust topped off with a drizzle of shellac to make my clearing a bit more ‘dirty’; added some bark to the tree and glued down real leaves to my revealed cluster area by using my paints as an adhesive. I then finished it all off with a few more drizzles and drips and signed off! I love the randomness of how the paint falls. I can’t wait to see what my grandma thinks of the altered work, although, I’m quite confident it won’t be to her liking, but she’ll at least say, “well, if you like it, then that’s all that matters”….And to sound like a broken record, that’s what it’s all about…liking what you like, acting on it, and displaying it proudly!
I consider it to be a collaboration of creative efforts…although, I’m not sure what ole R.M…the individual responsible for the original would think, or if there’s even a real person behind the piece, but at the end of the day, that painting now makes me smile every time I look at it. It has settled in quite nicely above the bed and I look forward to enjoying it for years to come. Maybe the person that I pass it on to will be inspired to add to it even further… WHICH brings me to my next point of collaboration. We, as a company are going to be initiating a progressive art project for people all around the world (what can I say, I like to think big!) to take part in. I’ll be posting additional details on Monday, so check back! Chances are, the initiative will be right up your creative alley!
Until then, sit back and enjoy the painting process set to the tune “Gypsy” by our friends from The Josh Davis Band.

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