Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Artistic Process - Painting and Photos

Hey everyone, by now many of you have seen my piece at Charlotte Street Art Centre, if not, the show is up till the 30th of April. I thought I would share a few process shots I took while making that piece, "Monotony" and more recently it's "sister" piece "Living Machine". I'll start with "Monotony".

First I start by taking the photo, this a long exposer image using the "bulb" or "mirror up" setting as it's called now. It's taken by popping several bursts of flash units with coloured gels over them. That creates the colour and the sense of motion (interestingly I don't use this technique anymore since digital is so light sensitive you can get away with a lot less time and light). This was one of the last film images I made before jumping to digital last year (minus pinhole that is). So once I had the image scanned off the negative I adjusted the lighting and printed out the image.

Once that is done, I move to the next step, mounting and painting.

My last major series like this was mounted on matte board, I wanted something heavier and different this time. I went with MDF board (most people call this pressed wood or self board). I use an acrylic gel to mount the images, it has the same texture as acrylic paint but dries (mostly) transparent. I love this medium as it nicely blends the paint to the photo and makes a more consistent piece. This photo was taken after the first coat of the gel had dried and I started the first layer of paint around it. I'm sure any painter looking at this will find my techniques horrendous, I've never been all that skilled a painter or drawer and that may be the whole reason I started making these style of images. I love the act of drawing and painting, but I could never make a realistic style and in many was I don't really like total realism anyway, but I do want people to look like people if you know what I mean. 

From there I would slowly add layers day after day till I got to the final image.

The last step is an application of the gel over the entire surface, thus completing the piece.

Once it's dry it's ready for display. I had issues with finding out how to hang the piece however. Since this was my first experience using this board for mounting a bought a cheaper thin piece. There was no way to put mounting hardware on the back. I ended up glueing a thicker piece of board on the back and screwing hardware into it. 

Hanging a piece like this was very awkward, especially on the stairs. But we got it up and it looked awesome.

So that is the story of that piece. It's been very good to me so far, even got me an article photo in the Brunswickan (UNB's newspaper).

To say the least, despite it's dark overtone, I find this piece extremely beautiful. Here's my studio shot archival image (which is on my website) for a better view.

I know this post is long, but I won't talk about the next piece very long. Originally I was going to hang "Living Machine" along side of "Monotony" but didn't finish it in time. I shot the photo for this before the "Monotony" image, and it was originally just a refresher into this style since I had not made any in a few years at that point. I think the original idea was about internet addiction and it still sort of shows. I wasn't a huge fan of the image till I became more familiar with H.R. Giger's work again and really wanted to make a biomechanical person in an image. I thought of this image and then decided it would work very well to represent that. This was never intended to copy Giger's work, but rather it was inspired by it. It's the same process as "Monotony" so I won't talk about each image, but I did use a thicker board this time, which I'm also using for my, currently in development, steampunk project "Steamed Vision". Enough talk, here are the pictures.

In a way I used the "Space Jockey" image Giger made for the movie Alien as my starting point. So if you see that in it, there is a reason.

One really cool thing to mention that doesn't come off to much in the photo, is the fact there was a lot of metallic acrylic paint used in the image, so it actually changes slightly in the light as you walk by it. It's inspired me to use this medium in future work.

A little weird and dark I know, but for some reason this kind of art has an intoxicating lure to me. I know this was a long read, but hopefully you found it interesting!

-Larry M. Holder 

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