Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Paintings

A few years ago (see here) I started a series of shellac paintings on Baltic birch plywood to experiment with taking the wood element out of my work and just using the shellac as a stand-alone paint to see what kind of effects I could create. Over the summer I was digging around some old pieces and was inspired to revisit the series. Having some scrap plywood lying around, I started to play with some new ideas. With all of these pieces I started by priming the boards with gesso, painting in perpendicular directions to create a textured base for the shellac to settle into.

The first of these pieces were minimalist, single color, geometric shapes inspired by one of my "Barn Art" pieces (see here).
Blue First
shellac and gesso on board
22" x 29" x 1.5"
July/November 2013
The process of painting with shellac creates a very original effect. Along with the gesso, it looks something like a fabric has been stretched over the board; in addition, the sensitivity of shellac allows for the wood grain in the plywood to subtly be seen. 
Blue First (close up)
With these next two piece I started to add acrylic paint.
One Greenish Hexagon
shellac, acrylic, and gesso on board
40" x 27" x 1.5"
October 2013
I really like the surfaces of these. The process of repeatedly rubbing the pieces to blend, smooth, and fill gaps with the shellac reveals the beautiful texture of the gesso.
One Greenish Hexagon (close up)
The piece below was made at the same time and was originally intended to be part of the one above but because it turned out very different, I left it separate.
Autumn 2013
shellac, acrylic, and gesso on board
26" x 19"
October 2013
Autumn 2013 (close up)
I then decided to purchase a new sheet of Baltic birch so I could go bigger. Unexpectedly, the work became "messier." I started to integrate more texture with scratches and sanding marks throughout, as well as shellac spillages, pourings, and splashes. This work is much more abstract expressionist. I like the unintended effects that are created with the free-form techniques.
October 2013
shellac, acrylic, and gesso on board
43" x 48"
October 2013
Though these last three pieces are very 'messy," there is a tremendous amount of working, reworking, and refining to form a contrasting smooth, shiny, surface that takes advantage of the ability of shellac to create the appearance of depth.
October 2013 (closeup)
When I was in New York City in November I saw an incredible show of Brice Marden's minimalist graphite drawings at Matthew Marks Gallery which inspired me to get some graphite and add that as another element of the work. While what I came up with is nothing like Brice's drawings, I think the idea of adding more materials and experimenting with their effects is a good direction.
December (1) 2013
shellac, acrylic, and gesso on board
44" x 40"
December 2013
In this close up you can see the run/drip marks of the blue shellac, which I find interesting, especially the ghost-like faded quality of it, but what I particularly like are the wavy sanding marks created by my Festool sander, it is a unique pattern which I think it adds to the mystery of the piece.
December (1) (close up)
Here is the final piece. I've debated how to title them but think that a date title might be the best solution because it captures a specific point in my life and in the series of work I've created.
December (2) 2013
mixed media on board
40.5" x 45"
December 2013
My favorite part is this yellow section below, especially the sanding marks toward the bottom.
December (2) 2013 (closeup)
While I'll leave it to others to judge whether the pieces are successful, I find them interesting, with a lot of surprising and contrasting elements that can capture a viewers attention. At the very least, they make me look and think about them for quite a while. 


  1. I'm definitely intrigued. Was excited to see one of these pop up on Facebook recently. Look forward to seeing more!