Friday, June 24, 2011

Elf Marks

Surface With Defacements,  17X22", Mixed media on hardboard

Elves.  Every time I tried a new section of cement, the little bastards came in and scribbled in it.  Tried everything.  They didn't stop until I started enjoying it.

This thing started innocently enough two months ago and glared at me the whole time.  Was never going anywhere.  I kept adding stripes, glazes, and at least one very funky scumble--enjoyed that.  The whole time I wanted it to be more than it was going to be.  I'm dying to get out and paint some landscapes--but nooo.  Bill just sits there and contemplates what on earth to do with this slab of cement.

Then it happened.  I had added some layer of goop somewhere along the line and decided it wasn't working and tried to remove it.  Nothing worked.  Tried everything from floor stripper to lacquer thinner.  All I got was something like chewing gum on steroids and it wasn't removing.  The more I tried the gummier it got.  It was clogging up my brushes.  The only thing that cleaned the brushes was hand cleaner (after using wood stripper). Shezam.  The whole thing went over to the zink (Baltimoreeze for sink), and got coated with hand cleaner.  Between that and the scrub brush I tore up the supersonic goo.  The cement texture survived.

I added another layer of cemenrt in the large rectangle and started scribbling into it, just before the whole panel was about to go sailing across the room.  I started liking it.  I really liked it.  Kept decorating it with colored pencils and splatter.  It approved.  I was finally off the hook. Put a fork in it--it's done.

My wife looked at it and said. "... so what's this an underpainting?"  Grrrr.

OK there weren't any elves.  They always get such a bad rap.  Sorry fellas.  



Casey Klahn said...

That is a surface with a purpose, Bill. Good struggle, and great outcome. Someday I'll get to see one of these in person, I hope.

Dug the pics in the last post as well. You have a fine eye for photos, a talent I do not have.

SamArtDog said...

You could blame the mice. Scurrying around in cold, covered tunnels, they leave tracks a lot like these on the grass under the snow. The tracks don't show until the snow melts in the spring. Like this, it's a beautiful thing to see.

So it's a seasonal thing. You just had to wait for the snow to melt.

RH Carpenter said...

Bill, Elves are good guys and gals - it's the Brownies you have to watch out for!! And this is definitely a Land Scape :)

Sharmon Davidson said...

I had no idea you were an elf, Bill- that explains a lot! :~) This post sounds like something I would have written; I'm glad I'm not the only one that goes through this. I can't quite follow what you did, but I like it!

Robin said...

I love the colors, they feel warm and good. But the marks and textures make me want to stare and keep me engaged. Does that mean I am now a fan of abstraction?!

William Cook said...

Hi Casey--That's as good an excuse as any for a road trip. I'll jam some of these in the minivan and head out over the Rockies. Two three days ought to do it. Seriously, this was the largest one I've done recently. Thought it would be simple going larger. Ha. Not so fast, young man. I feel like my own painting has been beating me about the head for a couple months. 'Struggle' fits well.

Mice? Hmmm. Nice. Very well could be mice trails--interesting take. I really didn't have anything in mind during the making of this piece. Just started typing, and all this elf stuff came out. I haven't a clue how to title an abstract work. Any ideas?

Hi Rhonda--I get them all mixed up--thanks for the clarification. Up elves, down brownies. Right. This really remind you of a Landscape? I'm thinking concrete. Best.

Oooo Sharmon! Ergo, I'm the elf [a rather large one] sabotaging my own work! I'll take it. My Freudian slip is showing. I love this stuff--elfin or not. What I did was to introduce incompatible materials, and got some unwanted chemical reaction. I felt like a total nincompoop. "Mixed media, eh. And you call yourself an artist, eh. You're a useless idiot." These thoughts entered the mind as I embarrassed myself in front of the art god. Felt like jumping off a bridge. Artist. Ha. I'm so happy things turned around for this, thanks for your kind comments.

Hi Robin--The colors are unlike anything I've ever done. They're muted and sort of dusty--weathered. I loved them but didn't know what to do with them. The marks and lines were the solution. They sort of activated the spaces involved. I am happy that you were kept engaged by all this. Shall I try more of this kind of thing? Just wondering. Enjoyed your comments.

AutumnLeaves said...

Strata. Love the small clouds of colors in the various places of a couple of the levels in this one, Bill. Elves, mice, gremlins...Perfect scapegoats!

William Cook said...

Hi Sherry--I like strata. Nice characterization. I keep wondering if those pencil marks aren't just decoration. But on the other hand it does alter the color attitudes and textures very subtly. It's amazing how little of this pencil work does the trick. Always a pleasure, thanks for commenting.

Sonya Johnson said...

I always look forward to your posts, Bill. This one read like a mini-adventure story: man vs. misbehaving materials, complete with happy ending. I laughed...I cried...and I celebrated triumphantly along with you ;).

Superfluous comments aside, this mixed media piece is a wonderful outcome. I really dig the complexities of the texture and color that you achieved.

And, your post is a good lesson in perseverance (or stubbornness - take your pick). I have a few pieces that have been sort of abandoned; you've inspired me to not give up on them. In the meantime, mister, get thyself outside with your camera and pencils/paints!

William Cook said...

Hi Sonya--Looking back on that piece now I have to laugh at the comedy of errors. But there was enough good stuff going on that kept me engaged. Now that I've gone through the whole struggle, the extra umph applied wasn't so horrible, and it saved the piece. Of course it could have gone the other way too--very easily. I too have a few mudpies [so far] that I can't bear to part with just yet--such psychological investment! OK I'm going out. Your trip to the river the other day, and those other things that happen that you otherwise would miss, scored big with me. That and just breathing actual air are inspirational.

RH Carpenter said...

Well, definitely a Land Scape, Bill, if you are curious as to what lies under the stuff we walk on - what colors, textures, little bits and pieces could be found just under the "ground." You imagination just takes you there - easier than a shovel and digging down and down and down :)

PAMO ART said...

Bill- I was with you the whole way in your dialogue of this creation. I absolutely love the line, "The whole time I wanted it to be more than it was going to be."
And then when your wife asked it was an underpainting, well- I guffawed out loud! It was a marvelous laugh.
Don't you just love how our spouses keep it real (ly fun).
The piece is GORGEOUS! I love the layers and the lines- it's stunning.

William Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Cook said...

Hello again Rhonda--Interesting take--the idea of psychological layers--and imagining deeper and deeper levels beyond normal grounding. My brother felt confined by this piece--and a bit uncomfortable, yet some of the other new works made him [his 'spirit' as he put it] feel released. Two diametrically opposed viewpoints in the same afternoon! Keeps one on one's toes, does it not? I am favoring the spirit of these comments on layers (Autumn 's comment on strata is similar). This more 'graphic' interpretation gives me many more painting ideas. Thanks again for commenting. Best.

PAMO! Welcome back! We've all been missing you so much. I am delighted you noticed my episodic rant. That thing really came close to oblivion. As for my wife, how you say, 'God love her'. She has no concept what crazoid creative forces are at play here. I don't let her on--it's better that way. That said, she does keep my head on straight, sort of--a grounding thing. Seriously, happy to be of service in the belly laugh department. All the best!

hw (hallie) farber said...

I suspect those elves have been messing around with your header, too. I'd leave them alone; they seem to know what they're doing.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Cement layers and the texture of plaster brings up many associations for me.

The house I grew up in had plaster walls (I think that they called them "lathe and plaster" but I'm not exactly sure what "lathe" is), and when we had some remodeling done, it was an old Italian man who came to do the plaster work. Mr. Rinaldi was an artist, hardly spoke English, but he elegantly scooped and spread and finished the surfaces with grace and ease.

Clogging up brushes with gummy goop does not sound elegant at all, but I admire your persistence and ingenuity in getting it back to your exquisite texture. Love what you do! And how you suggest and entice without telling all in your work. Kudos to you.

William Cook said...

Hey Kvan--Love the house story and tale about Mr. Rinaldi. It is absolutely uncanny to me how plasterers do what they do. It's such a skill. They race against the clock, because when the plaster sets it's done. One mistake and the whole thing sucks. Lathe refers to the wood slats nailed to the studs horizontally, with a quarter inch gap. The 'greencoat' (grey and coarse) is applied so that it squeezes into those gaps, making the large vertical surface possible. Wonderful mechanics, plaster and lathe. That's what we have here. Thank you for your observations regarding my work, and for the kudos. Saw your crow with the mussels. Outstanding piece, Kvan, very mysterious and iconic in addition to being well executed. Back at you with the Kudos.

William Cook said...

Hi Hallie--I suspect so too, the little imps. You might be right about leaving them alone--or at least give them a reprieve for helping the painting out. Of course there is the distinct possibility that they had something to do with the goo too--so that they could come up smelling like a rose--me sitting there with my header in my hands, all disgusted--a fake, a flop, an impostor. I know their ways.

Jan Yates, SCA, Canada said...

Bill again this reads as an evocative landscape on the thumbnail-and , to me, enlarged as well-the diversity, divisions and push/pull are really dynamic.

as exhausted as i am after reading (love your way with words) your process, this culmination was well worth the rough road
(pun definitely intended)

i wish i could experience this work 'live' as the marks of both colour as well as elf engravings are really fascinating-so much going on under that surface!

i am curious as to what kind of support this is on and also the weight..

BTW quite enjoyed your photo adventure in the previous post

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

It pleases me greatly that I appreciate and enjoy abstract art being that I'm a representational painter. This is superb. Beautiful layers, color and texture.
Your work is organic in a very pleasing way.
Underpainting? Oops ;)

William Cook said...

Hi Mary--Thanks so much! I like 'organic'. The textural aspects are one of a kind, as opposed to mechanical looking art easily reproduced. Interesting, when I first got into this blog I only wanted to sell prints. Then I got into these pieces that cannot be reproduced [well]. I guess its where my heart is--to be 'growing' the art with actual stuff as opposed to simulating it.

By 'Underpainting?' are you suggesting moving into painting on top of these textures or somehow incorporating them with paint? Oil? Representational imagery? (I have been thinking about it.)

Or am I reading too much into the question? Thanks for your thought provoking comments

Shelley Whiting said...

I love the various textures in this work. Also the defacement is done so elegantly. Very subtle and effective. Gorgeous work.