This is a newer painting titled Raw Grace that recently went to the Principle Gallery. It’s an 18″ by 26″ image on paper that has been heavily textured with multiple layers of gesso. The gesso is applied in several ways here– by brush, trowel and from a squeeze bottle that leaves the ropey strands that swirl through the piece. When I was finally done the sheet weighed several pounds and had a definite sculptural feel, like a bas relief piece.
This was a case where I was so enamored of the prepared sheet that I hesitated for a very long time before starting on the painting itself. I wanted to make sure that I was positive of my commitment to the piece before I jumped in. Anything less than that could ruin all the prep that took place.
I knew that I desired that the composition of the painting to be uncomplicated , even simple. I wanted the chaotic feel of the texture underneath to be able to shine through and carry the weight of the piece’s message. But, at the same time, the overpainting needed to be strong enough to not be overwhelmed by the underneath. I felt that the blowing red tree offered that strength as well as a reactive counterpoint to the fury of the sky. It was painted as a dark silhouette to move it further to the front and create space behind, space that carries the emotional feel of this piece.
I think the title captures what I see in this painting well. There is definitely a rawness in the texture and the way the paint, especially the edges, covers the ridges and valleys. Even the graceful flow of the tree in the wind has a sharp, raw edge that hints at its strength. It all comes together well in this piece for me and I feel that I haven’t squandered the opportunity that I saw in those first layers of gesso.