1. Design Form
2. Realize Form
3. Begin the Painting Process
The beginnings of the painting process. I found starting this painting really easy in terms of figuring out the composition, as it already had a preprogrammed composition in the form of 3-dimensional space. As per usual, it felt like there needed to be a ephemeral staircase leading up to the top righthand corner. I actually painted the part in acrylic instead of oil (metallic colors don't really exist in oil). It's important to do any acrylic layers before oil, as things tend to disintegrate if you do the reverse.
Here's a side view. I enjoyed the connections between the real and illusionistic frames--especially the white rectilinear form framing a miniature composition within a composition. The lines to the right, right before the bronze staircase, are actually retraced with hot glue so that they have a textural, tactile component (not that you're allowed to touch) in person.
I know this piece seems like a bit of jump, but I think it's because this phase fell into place quite quickly and easily. Here I've added a molding paste and graphite texture to the white rectangle, done a layer of phthalo blue over the previously purple portal, and painted the shadowbox in the upper righthand corner a sky blue (as obviously the destination of the staircase has to be a bluespace. For more on bluespace, see my artist statement). I also added used tape in a mostly vertical fashion, cutting the bottom edge with an exact knife so it perfectly matches the negative shape of the receding staircase.
In addition to the purple portal, you can see the faint graphite lines outlining the next phase of the composition. I liked having an in-perspective frame to juxtapose the straight-on view of the white rectilinear element. I was already really excited about this painting at this point.
And a detail shot. I really liked how this particular area was coming along--especially that the 3D aspects mimicked a staircase. Made for a nice connection between the literal and the illusory.
At this point I knew it was time to slow down and stop adding too many elements to prevent it from getting busy. Nonetheless, the top lefthand corner felt empty. It definitely needed something--albeit something subtle.
Here I also added a strip of gold and bronze palette scrapings, or recycled paint. You can see it very faintly in this photo to the right of the molding paste.
And that’s when it occurred to me: The Farther was practically asking to have smaller pieces added to it. It would be the perfect solution to its pseudo-rectilinear problem—that is, how its barely not a rectangle. As art school will tell you, if you’re going to do something, do it all the way. Either make a perfect rectangle, or make it damn clear you weren’t trying to. Assert your piece in all its non-rectilinear glory.
So I turned to my sketchbook. I ultimately decided to add 5 small pieces--separate panels, but displayed as part of the piece. I determined their general shape and placement while looking at the existing piece.
I wanted each additional panel to complement both the sculptural and painted elements of the existing piece. In other words, they needed to make visual sense from a 2-D and 3-D perspective.
4. The Final Product
The other three pieces continue the composition of the painting, extending golden palette scrapings to the left, the thick graphite line downwards, or continuing the bronze drips against a aquamarine backdrop.
(Bonus points if you noticed that piece #5 ended up moving to the right and down some so it fit in the corner.)
The final product was hung slightly above eye level as to reassure the themes of ascension throughout the show.
See the full features of The Farther here, or the rest of the solo exhibition images here.