In order to produce the finest artwork I can make, I often find myself considering quality materials for a studio artist. Some of that involves re-learning the use of standard traditional materials.
The Future was Then
Very much has been made throughout the last century about “experimentation” in materials and what defines a work of art. The moment of creation is, of course, highly important. What is often not considered is the artwork’s survival after the moment of creation. Several artists have returned to traditional practices borrowing from long ignored academic study. These artists are looking to know more and re-educate themselves about standard materials and how to use them properly.
Quality is Relative but Not for Materials
There is a lot to talk about here. Instead of looking at the subjective qualities of an artwork, let us focus on the qualities of standard art materials.
I continue to educate myself about standard professional artist materials. My goal is creating a high-quality painting. Here, “quality” has nothing to do with subject matter or any of the subjective qualities of “what” is art. I use quality here to mean the painting as an object. Quality also refers to the grades of the products used in my work.
Putting the Materials Together
I like to stretch my own canvasses and reserve store bought canvases for studies. When I began as a painter, I started with pre-stretched canvases. I learned quickly that they vary in quality. Some of them were so bad, I just threw them away. I began making my own. At my studio, each part of the canvas is carefully assembled to support the oil paint.
A primer,or “ground”, is used as a protection layer between a raw canvas and the oil paint. It was brought to my attention some time ago, that “absorption” or “sinking in” of the oil paint can occur when using a water based acrylic primer. This causes dullness or “dry” areas and can even aid in canvas deterioration. This is less likely to happen with an oil based primer. Therefore, I use an oil based primer for priming my canvasses. I sometimes still use acrylic “gesso”, but I typically use the oil ground.
Brush it On
The brushes I use are the best grade I can find. I use professional artists brushes based on their quality. I think of violinists when they are considering which bow to invest in. The weight, the balance of the brush in my hand is like holding a fine instrument.
The oil paints I prefer to use are made from materials mined from locations around the world. It helps to consider the manufacturer’s color knowledge and raw material expertise. It is important to assess their care in making high grade pigments for professional use. I like to think of certain manufacturers as “wine makers.” A discussion about pigment and paint is like discussing the “notes” of a fine wine.
Seal the Deal
After the painting is finished and has had time to dry, I like to apply a conservator’s varnish. This can “bring out” the painting as well as protect it from particles and light.
Strike a Balance
For me, there is always a balance between expression, skill, intention, and materials. Each of these components are important in creating a work of art. I like to think of the artwork after I am done making it. The possibility of it belonging to someone’s collection must be kept in mind.
When I make, (or enjoy) a painting, I primarily think of two things; subjective and material qualities. The subjective qualities of the artwork are manifested through artistic practice. Material qualities are mostly depended on others. The makers I choose put as much care into making their product as I do into making my paintings. In a way, I can begin each painting as if it is a collaborative goal for offering my best in terms of material quality. That collaboration includes the thought of artwork’s future owner.
If you would like to learn more about my work and what goes into it, feel free to visit my contact page.
You can also click a painting and find the inquire option.