Layering and Excavating Your Paintings


How do we achieve that complex, history-worn look of layering and depth that we all love? It imparts a deep complexity and mystery to artworks that are primarily about ideas and feelings. The skill in creating this is to build up those layers quite gradually, and to obscure or remove (excavate) certain previous layers in a quite selective manner.

There will be times when your finished piece reveals nothing of its original layer, as it will be completely invisible. However this process offers a great deal of opportunity for experimentation and refining of your process. Why do we put that first layer down if we are only going to obscure it? Well, that first layer is so very important to use as a starting point from which you build subsequent layers, which ultimately results in a meaningful piece of art. Every single layer is necessary to the process, even if they are eventually obscured. In this workshop segment we will show you many of the techniques I use to layer and excavate, to create deep texture and mood using palate knives, gel medium, sandpaper and other tools of the studio. Learn to over paint and obscure with great confidence. By letting go of our deep attachment to a preconceived finished product, we free ourselves from the constraints of any ideal. Allow your paintings the simultaneous ability to both reveal and conceal, to subtly suggest great depth under a peaceful and beautiful surface. Learn to use your materials skillfully, and gain the privilege and the improvisational meaning of a layered approach. 

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