© 2020 by Alison Darrow.

Jumping the shark

January 7, 2016

Today my painting jumped the shark: knowing that I shouldn’t, I nonetheless introduced some black and white, and I also fell down the rabbit hole of too much detail. Why do we repeat our mistakes, even while knowing that they are mistakes? I’m getting lost in the canvas and not in a good way: I identify a spot to fix, turn to load the brush, turn back -- and can’t find the spot I want to fix. Is this new, or have I always gotten lost in the details? Why did I think all those trees would provide an easy image to paint? I literally can’t see the forest for the trees and their myriad tiny branches and sub-branches, a fractal hell of detail. Which I know is a trap, which I know to avoid, yet there I am, nose to canvas. The handle of the brush feels too long; it keeps getting caught in my collar or poking me in the face, jumping out of my hands and flinging paint on me, my clothes, the floor; has the inspiration turned on me?


I took a break and watched some instructional videos online to glean information. And learned that I’ve been using my materials wrong, diluting the paint with a lot of water to create washes -- apparently doing so diffuses the paint molecules to the point that the paint won’t adhere to the canvas permanently. Which I didn’t know because acrylic mediums either didn’t exist when I was in school, or we weren’t taught about them. The internet is great for picking up tidbits of this sort; unfortunately this education is not systematic. But I’ve picked up some cool ideas, for example a way of creating “daguerreotypes” from printed images on paper. The artist in the demonstration video uses photos, but drawings will also work. I must try this with portions of my block prints as soon as I have time.


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