Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
Home Artist Blog About Me Life in Alaska Purchase Site Index Speak
Home » Archives » January 2007 » Surface Treatment

[Previous entry: "BE IT RESOLVED..."] [Next entry: "Ah-Choo! Boyfriend v. Cats"]

01/12/2007: "Surface Treatment"

This morning I awoke to a trail of alizarin crimson paw prints, Osiris expressing himself again. This has happened before and as it's too much to try and clean, I've decided to just appreciate the little paw prints for their aesthetic charm.

In other news, I went to a great exhibit at the Two Crow Studio and Gallery last Friday night. Jennifer Moss has some cool abstract paintings of amoebas, cell division, and like thatÖin acrylic paint on panel with the use of clear acrylic medium to create multiple transparent layers. Well, Iím not describing it very well but her work is very interesting.

It was particularly interesting because she was using panel, and yet had quite a bit of textural layers built up. For some reason, when I look at paintings Iíve done on panel they are very smooth, and the ones Iíve done on canvas have a lot more textureÖie. Are a lot more painterly, with use of pallet knife and lots of scraping etc.

I also changed to walnut oil paints around the same time I switched to panel, so that might have something to do with it as well. M. Graham paints come in very small 35ml tubes and can be incredibly expensive. Since Iím no longer using toxic mediums in my work, building up a similar amount of texture to emulate my style when I was using large 200ml tubes of Windsor Newton paints is not an option.

My main point in all of this is that I am *still* resisting the idea of changing to acrylic from oils and yet, I want my next batch of paintings (regardless of the subject matter) to be loaded with texture. It is the one element I miss the most from my last exhibit. I just donít know how to get it without going bankrupt.

Iíve tried (in the past) to use modeling paste on the base layer to create texture, but it just doesnít have the same quality that a build up of paint has. So, any suggestions?

Also, last night Aaron and I went to see Raven Odyssy at Perseverance Theatre: "Combining traditional song and dance and gathered through interviews with Elders and storytellers, this contemporary theatrical retelling of Raven stories brings together Alutiiq, Athabascan, Haida, Inupiaq, Siberian Yup'ik, Tlingit, and Yup'ik performers from around the state."

One of Aaron's good friends was in a leading role and it was a lot of fun to watch. I also ran into Ryan, an old friend from my wild Anchorage years...who was running one of the spot lights. He recognized my laugh. I hate my laugh, it's too loud and I can't tell you how many people have come up to me and said "hey, were you at the movie Friday night, I heard you laughing". grrrr

What else is new?

Well, I've been playing raquetball, downhill and cross country skiing, and I had my first soccer game on Tuesday night. I turned a very lovely shade of dark purple. I had no idea how much running would be involved. I also got hit quite hard while attempting a "boob block" while acting as goalie. It was a lot of fun though.

And, I'm not exactly painting at the moment, though I think I'm very nearly finished with The Commission, and I've put a 24"x30" canvas on the easle and I'm just waiting for inspiration to stike.

and waiting....

and waiting...

but I'm not worried about it.

Oh no, I'm not worried in the slightest!

santa-in-douglas (51k image)

Replies: 12 Comments

on Friday, January 12th, Brian said

Yes, you have quite an indentifiable laugh. But I think it's great and I enjoy hearing it!

on Saturday, January 13th, Howard said

The main ingredient in acyrlic modeling paste is usually marble dust. I'm not 100% sure, but I think you can add marble dust directly to the paint. That would give you all kinds of texture.

on Saturday, January 13th, berry bowman connell said

HA! All y'had t'do was ask!

So, y'want t'stick with oils, want texture, but can't afford t'do with
the walnut oils' expense?

Marble dust is indeed a way to generate texture, but, it is a specific texture. Plus, that you lay it down first with gesso or acrylics goes against what yer asking, ....

I experiment with something that is definately textural, to be sure, but, there are drawbacks.

First, you have to have your picture clearly in mind when you start, carry the picture clearly in mind as you gesso and the final course is quite startling, to say the least.

Drywall mud.
Yup, I occasionally paint the entire picture in drywall mud (any local hardwar store will sell ya a 5 gallon bucket fer about twenty bucks. Buy it by this size, because you WILL have use of the product in yer home, too)
Anyway, paint the picture in drywall mud, let dry, gesso, dry, gesso again (more texture means more gesso to get all the cracks) and finally, jump on with the oils.

Variations on the theme are simply, add some paint portions (acrylics or latex) to the drywall mud, paint either with broad strokes of texture or smooth like a fresco.
Actually, this is why I started doing it. M'art history teacher, whom I had no belief in or confidence either, for that matter, said something stupid about frescoe techniques, and I wanted to test out his statement. Which, by the way ,turned out to be false statements, and when I took my example to class to show him, I was garanteed the failing mark I got in the class.

Meanwhile, there were times when I would go in after the drywall mud would dry, and paint with acrylics, usually two or three times, then just use glaze with oils.

Some I never did color in, leaving them white with the gesso and I called them blind person pictures (dedicated to Bill, who used to visit me and was blind) or would add very little color.

OK, now, after that, there are also additives you can mix into the oils....maybe.
I dunno anything about walnut oil except that when we burn walnut fer heat, it has to be realy seasoned and it smells really good.
But, surely the additives can be used? If so, the one marked GEL does two things, both of which I live...
adds a thickness, buttery feel to the applied paints and
slows drying time.

Last fall, while painting at the TC Steele paintout in Nashville, I got to get close and ask Mary Anne Davis about her techniques and one of the things that impressed me was her whites.
She uses Gruppe's method (spelling?) with her whites, mixing it with her medium/vbarnish/turp and avoided "pastelling" out too much when mixing it with other colors. (near as I know, she rarely uses the med/varn/turp mix with the other colors, just white)
She ends with a very uniform texture that is built up...a satement that I'm sure does no justice to the technique, but, Gruppe also has books out there (I think he's old.... you know.
Really old) so, check'm out.

As usual, I'm going overboard with this answer, but, there is one more path we have to travel....

Are you attepting to paint a technique or a picture?
Please don't be mad if that sounds mean. It isn't meant to be.
But, the idea of the picture being a culmination of technique doesn't sound quite like a picture at all. I know there are historical figures who have taken their techniques to the end all be all stage (Seurat, van Gogh, Monet) but, I think it was that it was more their way of doing the thing than trying to produce something that looks like what they were after.
Dang, THAT really does sound odd, eh?

Well, like this....
is it still nudes? Where on the nude do you want texture? And, having prethought it out such, maybe you can use little paint to produce a textured surface.

Two examples.
First one, mine. I painted a Vincent Sunflowers (the one he replaced after Gaugin took his) with pastels.
It was before I went to school, so, I didn't know any better, but I unintentionally copied the texture with the pastel. Heck, I didn't even realize what I had done till way later, upon looking at it through someone else's eyes, they said "how did you get the texture to stand out so?" and of course, I said "what texture" and stepping up to it they discovered it to be flat as a board. (I did it on a drywall panel)
Second example, and sorry for butchering his name if I do....
(I have to think of it before I can butcher it...I know his stuff, though.)
The guy who did comic strip art, huge wall size depictions of comics, dots and "wham!" and "pow!" all included.
DANG! What was his name?
Anyway, this guy had experimented with creating textures with pure design, painted on with great care, but, absolutely flat.

oh well, now I'm gonna worry over what his name is fer a couple of days.
Anyway, there's my shot at an answer.


on Saturday, January 13th, Paul said

Inspiration scares me so I wrote a poem.

The years have passed
I'm full of gas
I wear a pissy frown
in all that time
I haven't learned to
rinse a spoon
by pointing it down

on Sunday, January 14th, berry bowman connell said
fredrickstein.......dang! I think this one might be close
but no cigar....

Y'know, they say it's the first thing t'go when y'get old.

on Monday, January 15th, elaine K bond said

Do you mean Roy Lichtenstein?

on Monday, January 15th, Judy Vars said

Hi Elise,
It's good to see your blog again. I know you've been busy but I enjoy checking in with you often. I have been pretty faithful with mine lately.
For depth and texture there is nothing like encaustic wax. Of course it can be toxic as well.
Your friend in Wasilla, AK
Judy V.

on Wednesday, January 17th, Elise said

wow, lots of comments since I last checked in...I'll start from the top:

Brian, thanks for saying you enjoy my laugh, though I think it is quite awful I appreciate you being nice!

Howard: Marble dust? Where would I get some and would I mix it right into the oil paint? Coo, I'll have to look into that. As far as surface texture goes, you are the master!
Berry, I think that Elaine is right, Roy Lichtenstein...and I know what you mean about his visual effects.

Anyway, you've mentioned so many things I barely know where to begin. First off...thanks! And secondly, drywall mud sounds interesting though I wonder about the archivalness of it? Also, I've tried doing that with modeling paste, but I don't like being locked in with a particular pattern of texture from the get go, I like to build it up slowly with the paint itself.

I've been avoiding mediums because they are often toxic (interesting about the technique for white white though)...what else?

As yes, the design, color, and story of my paintings will always be the most important element. Technique is always secondary to content, but I miss texture terribly. The texture wouldn't be for the figures, but for the landscape elements. They can add movement, scrumbling is a technique that reminds me of my first love...printmaking.

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions, it's a lot to mull over.

Paul: nice poem! Thanks!!!

Hi Elaine!!!

And Judy, nice hearing from you too. I have always wanted to try encaustic but have never gotten around to it. I'm quite terrified of toxic processes there a non-toxic way to do it?

btw, I'll be sure to check out your blog, I'm excited to see what you've been working on!


on Wednesday, January 17th, Jackie said

E: It was good to see your entry - at least you're thinking about painting! I have no advice to give you about texture. Though I too have always wanted to try encaustic. I don't know that it's terribly toxic. A fried of mine works with encaustic, and she just uses an electric skillet to heat her wax (cheaper than the thing they try to sell you at the art supply places). I tried to 'fake' encaustic on a 3-D piece, by covering the finished surface with melted beeswax. Turned out kinda cool.
Blog on! :laugh:

on Thursday, January 18th, Howard said

You can get marble dust from Dick Blick.

on Thursday, January 18th, Howard said

I'm no expert in oil painting but I think you need to mix marble dust into something like oleopasto before using with the piant.

on Friday, January 19th, berry boman connell said

Roy Lichtenstein!
Roy Lichtenstein!

Dang! I couldn't find my article with him in it and I didn't want to dig out m'art history books 'cause that room's a mess....