Tag Archives: abstract composition of colors and shapes

Painting: Spectrum

I’m back!

Spectrum, acrylic and latex caulk on 11" x 14" canvas, January 20, 2013

Spectrum, acrylic and latex caulk on 11″ x 14″ canvas, January 20, 2013

Spectrum!  Because I am not going to call it ‘rainbow’, grunt, snort, wow that spot on the floor is interesting.  But enough feigning of manly insecurities, the deal with this painting is not so much the spectrum as that it’s my first experiment with using latex caulk as an art media.  It does give it some texture…  This picture with the harsher lighting shows better the blobs of caulk that I painted over.

Spectrum, acrylic and latex caulk on 11" x 14" canvas, January 20, 2013

Spectrum, acrylic and latex caulk on 11″ x 14″ canvas, January 20, 2013

One note on spectrums though — it strikes me as fascinating and unfathomable that the only real difference between colors is frequency and wavelength.  Same difference between the frequencies we see and those we don’t.  Makes you wonder if some kind of neurological manipulation could allow us to further subdivide the visual spectrum and experience more colors.  Colors we cannot even imagine now.  Or going the other direction…  after the singularity I just want gamma-ray eyes, is all I’m sayin’…

On a housekeeping note, I’m changing how I write this blog.  You may have noticed, I’m not going to slavishly post twice a week anymore.  That led to lame posts between paintings I think, and more importantly it was starting to turn blogging, and worse, painting into work.  Not work in the sense of something I get paid to do, but in the sense of house work and yard work — something I’d just rather not do at all.  We don’t want that to happen to painting and blogging do we??  No Zorgs, we don’t!!

One of the best pieces of advice my dad gave me was that the best way to ruin a good hobby is to turn it into work.  And wouldn’t ya know it, that’s exactly what I was doing.  That Cosmic Calendar stuff…  it was a really cool idea when I decided to do it, but wow it got to be a drag in the last days of December.  The irony of this change is not lost on me — I first decided to stick to a biweekly schedule because I wanted the pressure of needing to finish paintings so I’d have something to blog about twice a week, and get more paintings done that way.  But I just don’t think I need that motivator anymore.  Quite the opposite, too much blogging was threatening to kill the blog and the paintings.  Before last weekend I hadn’t painted in about a month.  Just didn’t feel like it.  Tried painting anyway, but just wasn’t having any fun.  I gave up that day after I broke my palette knife.

Until last weekend when suddenly I had five new paintings going all at once!  🙂  This is the first of those.  So now it’s going to be a normal blog and I’ll post when I want to.  Hopefully this will lead to better posts when I do.


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Cosmic Calendar: The Cambrian Explosion

You may remember Cosmos, the 1980 PBS series by Carl Sagan. Maybe you also recall Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar” from the series, where in order to put the immensely vast history of the universe into a comprehensible scale, he mapped it onto a calendar year. In other words, if the entire history of the universe were one year, with the big bang in the first second of midnight on January first, and the present day on the last second of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. A project of mine this year has been to note the major events in the Cosmic Calendar, on the real calendar, on this blog!

December 15th on the Cosmic Calendar:  The Cambrian Explosion!  Before the Cambrian period, while there were a few multicellular animals, most were still single-celled.  When they felt ambitious, they might build a stromatolite.  Just before and at the beginning of the Cambrian, something — we yet know not what — kicked evolution into high gear and a variety of animals and other organisms appeared similar to the number of species we have today.  They were almost all different animals than we see today — now they’re mostly if not all extinct — but there was a similar variety as in the present.  This development is what is referred to as the Cambrian explosion.  The Earth was finally populated with life in similar numbers to how it is today.

I painted the Cambrian Explosion once.  It’s still one of my favorites of my paintings.

Cambrian Explosion, small painting 12, acrylic on 8"x10" canvas board, March 2012

Cambrian Explosion, small painting 12, acrylic on 8″x10″ canvas board, March 2012

Those are my impressions anyway.  It really looked more like this:

Cambrian Trilobite




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Painting: Alizarin Yuck #1

It’s 12:12 on 12/12/12!  The last such calendrical alignment for 89 years!  (which will be 1:01 on 1/1/2101)  What better way to celebrate than with a newly finished painting!

Alizarin Yuck 1, acrylic on 12x12 canvas, December 6, 2012

Alizarin Yuck 1, acrylic on 12″x12″ canvas, December 6, 2012

Drips, drops, and dots complete this painting adventure nicely.

Alizarin Yuck 1, acrylic on 12x12 canvas, December 6, 2012.  Oooh!  Shiny!

Alizarin Yuck 1, acrylic on 12″x12″ canvas, December 6, 2012. Oooh! Shiny!

Another in-progress shot, before the final drips

Another in-progress shot, before the final drips

More of the alizarin yuck survived on this canvas than did with Alizarin Yuck #2.

Oh blast.  It’s probably at least 12:13 by now…


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Painting: Coalescence

Coalescence, acrylic and spray paint on 2'x2' Masonite panel, December 6, 2012

Coalescence, acrylic and spray paint on 2’x2′ Masonite panel, December 6, 2012

The 2′ x 2′ (61 x 61 cm) Masonite panel is finished!  While the painting of it was mostly about modeling paste and experimenting with texture with palette knife, I called it “Coalescence” because the clumpyness of what emerged here put me in mind of the hydrogen, helium, and lithium atoms that formed in the first few minutes after the big bang, coalescing æons later into gas and stars.  Nothing less than the universe transitioning from an endless expanse of mere atoms, into larger stuff, some of which would eventually become us.

Like wow, that’s deep man.  How do I follow that?  Uhhh, here’s an in-progress shot!  (after the blue, before the yellow):

in progress

in progress



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More paint on the 2’x2′ masonite panel

some green...

some green…

and some gray and white

and some gray and white

More to come on this one.  🙂


Filed under Unfinished Paintings

More progress with the modeling paste painting


Well, I think I’m going to call it “Rotation”. I guess I can let that slip. 🙂  It’s not done yet though!


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Painting with modeling paste — in progress

It used to look like this:

So that’s something I’m working on. 🙂


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The Trials and Tribulations of Alizarin Yuck #1, part 2

After the washes dried and the wrinkled paint dried again — oh, and after I smeared some gold on it with a coffee stir, it looked like this.  The wrinkled red and orange paint I showed in my last post seemed to have dried pretty much as it had been before, but there were some interesting puckers in other places:

Washes and paint dried

It was time for the caulk to come off.  You may have noticed in the above photo that I used a few different kinds of caulk on this one.  I was using up the last of a few tubes.  This is where it becomes a bit of a cautionary tale about using caulk on a canvas.  Basically, if you ever decide to caulk a canvas, and expect to peel the caulk off later, it’s important to use the right kind of caulk.  In the bottom right of the above photo, I used the really good, expensive silicone caulk — the stuff that’s about $9 a tube and bonds to brick and metal.  Great stuff for sealing up leaks around a metal bay window on a brick house, but it will also yank the gesso right off your canvas:

Wow, this “canvas” is a really thin weave. Seems it’d be more accurate to say we’re painting on suspended gesso, than stretched canvas…

At the top I used some cheap latex caulk ($2 a tube) that I bought just for containing washes.  To my surprise it would not come off at all.  I started trying to cut it off, and cut into the canvas:


That’s where I quit that day.  Just had to walk away before the painting ended up smashed or something.

I finally decided to accept the remaining caulk as part of the painting, having no choice really.  I added more gesso where it had been peeled off and glued that cut part down.  Latex caulk is paint-able and seems to have a lot of textural potential.  <wheels turning>

I’ve spoken before about how liberating a messed up canvas can be… well by now this one was really f’ed up!  🙂  At this point I really decided “what the hell”.  The blue and red around the edges below was just smeared on with popsicle sticks.

What the hell! 🙂

So I think it’s looking ok now, and is getting close to finished.  Maybe it needs some drips.

Oh, and a good caulk to use if you want to peel it off later, is just a ‘middle of the road’ silicone caulk.  Not the cheapest, not the most expensive.   It will seal well enough to hold a wash in, as long as you make sure you haven’t left any gaps, and when dry it will peel off in nice, rubbery ropes that kids (and artists) love to play with!


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The Trials and Tribulations of Alizarin Yuck #1, part 1

I mentioned in my last post that this painting has had an interesting journey.   This is where it got interesting.  Some of the paint was pretty thick I guess, and this is what happened when I caulked the edges and put a yellow wash on it:

Wrinkly wrinkly wrinkly

Check that out

up close

The tale gets worse from here, but don’t worry — I think it’s going to have a happy ending.  🙂

And just because I’m liking this song so much today, here it is. Enjoy!


Filed under Unfinished Paintings

Alizarin Yuck #1 is coming along

Added some red and orange

This progress shot is actually kind of old.  Huh, actually it’s a month old…  This painting has had a very interesting journey from this point — “interesting” in the sense of the ancient Egyptian curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  But it’s quite late as I write this and it’s been a long day to cap a long couple of weeks, so that’s a story for another post, or maybe even two.  🙂


Filed under Unfinished Paintings