Monday, December 7, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Last week artist friend and master painter, LaVonne Tarbox-Crone, invited me to her studio to paint together. I have always been timid using gauche on my paintings, and I had asked LaVonne for help in learning how to use the opaque paint on my paintings. I took a total disaster to work on.

This is part of the process I'd used in my studio, before any fixing. The painting was inspired by a close-up photo of a creek. I started out by painting some rocks. I then covered up the white with masking tape so I could pour a wash over the rocks.

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The pouring did not work well. For one thing, I'd used a dead color to pour and the rocks became dull and lifeless.

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And this close up shows how the masking tape allowed leakage under the edges, so I got all these ugly spots on what I had hoped would be pure white and fresh color.

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I wish I had a photo of what I had next, because in my frustration, I did some almost black zebra stripes over a large part of the painting, trying to imply water. Unfortunately I stopped photographing my progress because I was sure this was headed for the burn pile.

It was an embarrassment, but I took it to LaVonne's anyway. She first asked if we might scrub it. Heck, yes! This could not get worse. She took it to her sink and began to carefully wet, wait 10 seconds, then begin scrubbing with a sponge. She did lots of water and lots of scrubbing. In the end, maybe 10% was left untouched.

After the scrubbing, ghosts of my original rocks were left on the wet paper, and LaVonne demonstrated how to begin recreating the stones. She also showed me how to smooth out and hide ugly areas with gauche. Soon I was working over this piece myself. By the time I left her studio, The painting looked entirely different, but with possibility.

I brought it home and worked on it more. Here is the painting as I left it in my studio yesterday. It's pretty miraculous fix! Thanks, LaVonne, for the fruitful lesson.

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