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SMALL SCULPTURES: BRUSHED ACRYLIC

Series 4

Hollow Maple Sculpture Brush-Painted with Art Acrylics


By the time that I had eight pieces fully primed for George Buckner’s shop, I decided that the process was just too unhealthy to continue. Prepping requires tedious fine sanding and filling using paints and solvents that are all toxic. I was -- and am -- very happy with the body shop painting results. It’s a unique look on these very organic pieces. I also find the result to be lacking in the Something Personal department.  Perhaps going through this process is what it took to bring me back to using a hand-held paint brush.


Starting on a new piece for brush painting is much  like working on Series 1 and 2. There’s lots of
cleaning up to do. Scraping with dental tools. Scrubbing with mini-wire brushes. Solidifying loose stuff with super glue. Blowing out debris with compressed air. Carving chamfers around the edges where saw cuts and natural exterior and interior forms come together.


Now the primer method is also brushed. First a coat of Kilz Original. This is an excellent sealer, and it begins to lay down a white base. The second coat is Valspar indoor/outdoor primer. This paint has excellent coverage. It’s water based, so cleanup is easy.


The coloration is all with art acrylics. Besides standard colors, I found that I like introducing a good dose of metallics – several versions of gold, silver, copper and bronze. I also found that a touch of gold glitter adds a special nuance to the over-all look.  This is the same glitter used to decorate fingernails, and I think sometimes mixed into eyeliner and other makeup. The glitter is applied to wet paint, or immediately after spraying the clear overcoat.


When I start painting the colors I have a vague idea of what I’m trying to achieve. However, usually the process takes on a life of its own. I’m using short bristled brushes with a dabbing technique. I start working wet on wet, but often there’s a second coat. Usually all is done with one brush.


My idea is to create something interesting that doesn’t detract from the visual and tactile form. Usually I go for an over-all multi-coloration, resisting the temptation of painting separate elements. Occasionally I yield and paint something slightly different, as a highlight. But I always resist the idea that the piece tells a story. Or is a something. I don’t want the work to be programmatic. Or cute. Or clever.


Typically, the painting process goes out of control for a while. When this happens, I continue working, trying to bring it all together in a way that is subjectively satisfying. I keep at it, until this happens. Then later, the dry look is different anyway. And usually better.


There’s a few steps after the acrylic has hardened. Maybe two days. During painting the screw feet get covered with random colors. In the earlier pieces -- Series 1 and 2 -- I often swapped the screws for screws that were painted while working on a previous piece. The screws are painted, but not with colors related directly to where they are fixed to the sculpture. More recently, I’ve taken to using new solid brass screws. I think these look a little classier.


Each piece is numbered with the coded copper studs, as explained in the introduction to the small sculptures. The numbering also serves as a personal signature.


The final step is spraying a clear glaze overcoat of, satin polyurethane.


Ten pieces, designated BA-1 through BA-10. Three picked up a title:


     






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