"At Dusk", acrylic and image transfer on a 12" x 6" cradle board.
Somewhere beneath the layers of paint is a photograph of my backyard.
And what started as an image transfer became something else.
I wanted to create a soft spring look so I covered the surface with pale greens and yellows. But the image I transferred to the top third of the surface was a copy of a winter shot of my backyard; no snow but lots of bare trees and darkness. So I changed direction, changed color palette and moved the feel of the painting from spring to autumn using lots of Sap Green and Transparent Red Oxide.
The image transfer contained evergreens with a centre focus of birch trees. It was the birch trees that attracted me to the scene and it was the birch trees I wanted to save. But I felt the rest of the image could disappear. I kept some of the birch trees from the image but decided to expand upon what attracted me in the first place. So I covered most of the transferred image with painted texture using a painting knife and I built the birch trees out from the image and into the painting making them the subject.
Only a small part of the original image shows at the top of the painting, buried under paint and texture inspired by the image.
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The school photograph is from 1890 so the challenge was to make the rest of the painting look old as well.
But first, I needed to create a photo transfer of the original picture. I photocopied the picture and applied a coat a day of Golden Soft Gel medium for about four or five days. I brushed the gel medium right over the image. Once the gel was set on the last day I wet the back of the image and started rubbing to remove the paper. After two or three attempts at removing the paper I was left with a transparent image which I glued to the canvas with polymer medium. You can paint the canvas first, and the colors you brush onto the canvas will show through the photo transfer. But I left my background white.
Next came Golden’s Crackle Paste. I applied this with a palette knife and made it thick enough that the cracks would develop. A thin application won’t show cracks. The product recommendation is that crackle paste be applied to a solid background such as Masonite or cradle board, rather than canvas. But I’ve found that if I don’t apply the paste too thickly and I varnish the completed painting to hold everything in place, then I seem to be able to use the paste on stretched canvas.
When the crackle paste dried (after a couple of days), I again used a palette knife and applied Golden’s Light Molding Paste. I applied the paste roughly to get some ridges and valleys.
When all the mediums were dry, I took sandpaper and sanded back any spots that were too thick or too rough. I paid particular attention around the edge of the transfer.
Next, I brushed Payne’s Grey acrylic over the entire piece and immediately wiped the color back using a damp shop towel. The objective was to leave a darker value in the valleys and cracks.
I brushed a glaze of Transparent Red Oxide over the photo transfer then added some stamped, stencilled and collaged elements to complete the piece.
This painting “Bridgewater School” is to be part of a group exhibition at a local gallery featuring many of the old schools of the area. The Bridgewater building still exists and is used as a community center but most of the others have disappeared.
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