By Tony DeLorger © 2011
The virgin canvas beckoned attention, its textured woven surface yearning for colour to quench its thirst. I stood there motionless rolling a flat hair brush between my fingers. Usually the white would transform into an image of possibility, a mental suggestion or something. But today the white just stared back at me, its impartiality a little annoying.
I rubbed my beard and gave my chin a scratch, pursing my lips and no doubt making an unattractive expression. I put the shaft of the brush between my teeth, grabbed a few tubes and set up my palette with primaries, my favourite maroon, titanium white and some medium.
I stood up and looked at the canvas again and decided to use a texture paste. Digging my hand into the jar I smeared it over the white surface and shaped mounds and grooves and acted like a kindy kid finger painting. The paste felt cool and sticky and playing with it brought a smile to my face. When I’d created what I wanted, I lifted the canvas and placed it in the sun near the window.
In half an hour I stood before the dried canvas considering the textured surface and began to see something emerge. I grabbed a wide brush and mixed some medium with my maroon, immersed the brush and slapped it onto the canvas, crosshatching against the ridges of texture. I slowly introduced some black and darked some of the shadow areas and a dimensional form began to emerge.
I always feel slightly disconnected when this process begins. It’s like being immersed with music. It swells in your brain, swirls around you like a gathering storm, pushing you with ever-increasing fervour. I’ve learned to accept the feeling and just flow with it, no matter how intense. My brush becomes the communicator as it gathers colour and introduces it in seemingly abstract ways. Yet there is no abstraction here, only concise application, each step another layer, another depth of saturation that crescendos into a form of harmony and contrast.
At this point I revisited my original vision and considered. I sat down on my old leather chair and wiped my patchwork hands over my old jeans. If I decide it has promise, I’ll throw it in the sun and have a look in a few days, when it’s dry. If not I’ll reapply and begin again. This time it was Ok so I left it.
A few days later, I once again found myself standing in front of the canvas. Again I feel the swell of creativity. I clench my eyes to almost closed and peer at the surface of the painting, looking for holes and missing highlights. I quickly grab some coarse sandpaper and start to rub back a few areas, revealing the paint beneath and adding yet another texture to the surface.
The paper adds another dimension and brings forward other elements that need attention. Following that, I begin to highlight and ad strength to several contrasting elements, giving them dimensionality and a more defined shape.
Again the canvas is left for a few days to dry. When I once again face the painting, I will add final touches and when they are dry, and provided I am satisfied I will then varnish three to four times.
Then I set up another canvas and stand in front of it, looking intensely for that glimmer of hope that only a white pristine canvas can offer.