My studio is located in my home in Central Alberta, Canada, in a reasonably isolated suburban location surrouned by lakes and hiking trails. My work takes place mainly in two locations: at the computer (the upstairs studio) and at the easel (the downstairs studio). Most of my creative work (brainstorming, developing and refining images, working on gifs etc) happens at the computer; work in the painting studio is more tactile and slower-paced (the principal medium here is oil paint on canvas). The next few pages are intended to give a sense of the work flow and thought-processes involved.
This is a view of my painting studio with work in various stages of completion. Materials in use here include oil paint with liquin painting medium on panel or canvas; I also make frequent use of gold leaf.
Additional studio views.
Work typically progresses through the following stages:
Step 1: Work out a full-size, colour sketch on the computer. As this image shows, any individual painting will have gone through dozens of trial stages before reaching a stage where it seems “viable” as a painting. At any one time I have a dozen or more images in various stages of completion.
Step 2: Turn the colour sketch into a black and white “cartoon.”
The problem for me, and for many other visual artists as well, has been how to create a productive dialogue between modern technology and the artistic tradition (a question which applies as much to subject matter as it does to materials). These pages are intended as a very brief over-view of my personal approach toward the search for a creative balance.
The method: On the left is a “finished” colour sketch (done using using a program similar to photoshop). The sketch is then turned into what Renaissance painters called a “cartoon” (i.e. a full-size monochromatic rendering of the image). This image will be transfered to a canvas or panel using the gel transfer technique (videos describing the process are available on YouTube); this technique will “mirror” the imge – hence the need to reverse the image when creating the cartoon.
Stages in the gel transfer process. A canvas (somewhat larger than the cartoon) is primed; canvas and front of cartoon are covered with layers of soft acrylic gel. The back of the cartoon is soaked with water and the cartoon is placed face-down on the canvas. The paper is then carefully removed; the result is that the cartoon sketch (which is essentially a layer of acrylic gel and iron oxide pigment) is transfered to the canvas.
The gel transfer technique is messy and required a great deal of trial and error (problems include wrinkling and tearing of the sketch during transfer). Nonetheless, here is the finished sketch, on canvas, mounted on a wooden stretcher. All paper has been removed, a few minor tears and bubbles have been repaired, and the borders painted. Several weeks of oil painting will now begin (the painting to the left was also done using this method).