After doing primarily digital work for the last ten years, I’ve been experimenting with a new (for me) way of including traditional paint in my work. For the past six months I’ve been combining digital prints with acrylic paint. I start with reference photos I’ve taken over the years, cropping, cutting and pasting, and then doing some computer work with filters and adjustments to set up the composition for a satisfactory piece. Then I print the image on canvas, stretch the canvas, and begin painting with acrylics. One of the filters I like to use in the set-up both flattens the image and reduces its color saturation, so part of the acrylic painting process includes increasing the illusion of depth and expanding the color range. Of late, I have enjoyed the effect of using small patches of color to create a kind of impressionistic collage, although sometimes the desire to bring out detail comes to the fore, and I include some realistic rendering.
Returning to the use of actual, real, wet paint in all its glorious color and messiness has been a great pleasure, and has reminded me that working with real material has some qualities that the digital experience cannot replicate. Particularly in this pandemic year, it’s been satisfying to stand in front of the easel with paintbrush in hand, rather than sitting in front of the screen to make artwork in addition to all the other activities one does in front of the screen.
Most of these images are derived from local areas, from woods and fields in Tompkins County, some close to my house. A few are from further afield, although within a day’s drive. I’ve been attracted to the same subject matter for over fifty years—the textures and environments of trees and grasses, and the light illuminating them. These are endless in their variety and fascination, when I slow down and really look.