Friday, June 21, 2013

Glossing Over It: The Process of Glazing

When I first began to seriously work on painting, as an undergraduate art major, I preferred a thicker, more opaque application of paint. It was not that I was painting with such dimensional strokes as Vincent Van Gogh, but it was not in the style of some renaissance master, either. I still rather enjoy applying paint with a heavily loaded brush. It just feels good.

However, “art life” happens and styles change. In fact, style is more often dictated by concept than anything else within the fine art world. Take Pablo Picasso, for instance. Those only familiar with his more extreme forms of Cubist abstraction—and with little or no knowledge of what this master was trying to achieve—believe that he had no traditional skill. That is simply not the case. The work from the period when he was a very young artist reveals that he was every bit a master draftsman, yet he subverted that skill to challenge our assumptions of what a painting actually is. It is those endeavors in abstraction that set in motion the major shifts in much of the art of the twentieth century.

I, on the other hand, moved in the opposite direction. My painting style became more traditional as my work evolved. This was not because I necessarily improved as a painter—though that did happen, as well. It had more to do with a change in the materials I was using. Once I started painting over text, especially book pages, I needed a more transparent paint application if I wanted viewers to still be able to see the words. So I returned to the process of glazing.

Even before this shift in style happened within my own work I was teaching the process of glazing to my beginning painting students. I have them experiment with a variety of surfaces and paint applications so that they can get to know the materials and what seems to suit their own artistic needs. This particular method seems to test the patience of many students. I suppose part of it is that it is not an instantaneous process. It takes time. It requires an understanding of both color and materials.    

The paintings shown here were actually produced as an attempt to help solve that problem. They were painted outside the confines of any specific series on which I am currently working. They are slightly connected to my main body of work, but do not carry the same concerns or weight of concept. They came into existence because 1) I had these canvas panels laying around and wanted to finally put something on them after ten years, and 2) I wanted to show my students just how many layers of paint go into creating a realistic glazed painting.

The video below is a tutorial for my current and future students. I have posted it here because I feel that those who are unaware of the processes of creating paintings may be interested in seeing one process of how I develop a painting. I hope you find it interesting or useful.

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