I had to develop a way to paint with acrylics that would allow me to spend less time mixing paint. Back in the 80’s I started premixing many of my colors in small squeeze bottles and I am still using some of them today. Also, I use plastic palettes and store them in plastic food containers (sometimes in the refrigerator) to keep the paint hydrated and usable for as long as possible.
Do you like to experiment?
Sure – as often as possible! I’m always trying to find better ways of putting down paint to create interesting textures. That’s part of the fun.
What is an example of an experimental technique that worked?
I’ve had lots of opportunities for experimentation on the cover paintings I’ve done for the metal band SEPULTURA. For the cover to their album ARISE, I assembled textures from photos and integrated them with painted parts, then ran the pieces through a copier several times to get a gritty and contrasty feel to the image. I reassembled the elements into a collage and painted into it some more. For the last step, I had a sepia tone photoprint made of the collage, mounted it on a board, and painted the final image using the print as my underpainting. It was like having an adventure in my studio.
Do you use photographs for reference or work from life?
I do both, though I most often work from my imagination. Being human, however, I can’t retain everything, so there are times when I feel the need to supplement my mental image of an element or pose with more information. That can come from my own photos, outdoor sketches, or scrap file images I’ve saved and filed away, or images downloaded online.
For figures, if I’m having difficulty visualizing a pose I can pose myself or a model and work directly from life. (I have some big mirrors mounted in my larger studio room so it’s fairly easy for me to pose myself in the general attitude of the figure I need and work from that.) At other times I’ll photograph myself using a remote and dump the shots into iPhoto, run them in a slideshow on my laptop and work from those.
When I use photos, I look at several to get the gist of the light effect or manner in which the folds of the fabric are moving and then extrapolate and make up my own figure based on what I’ve learned. This is quite a bit different from tracing and/or trying to copy a photo, which rarely works. Photos can lie, but they do capture information about details. What you decide to do with them is part of what makes up your “style.” Painting from life can be part of the process, but I am more likely to work from a model in my studio for my personal work than for an illustration.
I’ve done a bare handful of paintings outdoors. Most of my work is painted in the studio using recollections form experiences outside. If I see a particularly compelling cloud or light effect during one of my excursions outdoors I’ll try to document it in acrylics on a small panel or card, usually about 5″ x 7″, and I’ll use these references at times.