Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More from Lillian Smith Center

Today I took down the painting I've been working on since last week and stapled up a new blank canvas piece:

What follows are stages of developing this design.  I work loosely at first, sometimes not even knowing what may be the subject of the painting or drawing.

I use wide brushes to begin, housepainters brushes, in fact.  This "automatic drawing" method is one that I was introduced to by Steve Aimone in workshops I've taken with him.

Within 20 or 30 minutes there's something everywhere on the canvas.  Can't be afraid of the "blank" space when there isn't any, huh?

At this point I start to consider the potential for developing images.  Steve's workshops are geared toward nonobjective painting.  However, my own desires are for pictorial images in my work.  Yet I have been finding his process wonderfully loosening for beginning.

So... image for this new piece was selected from several of the photos I've been making of the stones around the Center.  I decided upon a detail from the chimney ruin at the Center.  The stacking of the large, medium and small stones in this chimney have fascinated me since I first came to the Center several years ago:

Lillian Smith's grave is at the left of the chimney:

As I begin to develop the painting further, I first make a drawing using a graphite stick using the photo as reference.  You can barely see the lines drawn over the paint:

Here I am painting... yes, staged with camera's timer but I wanted to show the scale of the work and the wall I've got the canvas stapled onto.  The apron is an important tool as are my painting shoes, ones that I've almost worn out but that are great for standing in most of the day.

Now the real work begins.  I paint for awhile, sit back and look at what's been done, paint for another while... back and forth for hours at a time.

Here's where I left it around 5 p.m.--

And this is what I'll be adding tomorrow:

Yep, that's Georgia red clay.  I'm using coffee filters to strain the mud, and then I'll mix acrylic matt medium with it.  Some of the rocks in the painting will get a wash of the clay tomorrow.

And... red door photo... haven't shown one yet.  But here's part of the red door and my shadow in this morning's early sunlight--it was a chilly morning and I have on a cap, coat, scarf and gloves as I wave at the red door!


  1. Ah, the lovely red door! Can you put a touch of that red in the rocks? I guess I'm thinking of Colorado rocks, though. A VERY promising beginning!

  2. This is wonderful Tommye! Thanks for posting the steps you go through while designing in this way. It is so helpful to see it bit by bit. It is completely different from what I do, but in some respects, actually quite similar! Process of layering.

  3. Great pictures, Tommye!