My Practice

My labor intensive art practice and process begins with listening to and reading about what is going on in the world around us. Seeking out independently owned or listener supported outlets, I obtain news from reliable sources which do their best to relay the facts.

Listening and Planning

Documenting and sifting through news information I select the most overlooked or misunderstood bits of news information to include in my pieces. I also choose some of the most overt or ridiculous reporting to incorporate as well. Combining these contrasting points of view further illustrates the problems and unreliability in media coverage.

painting that contains headlines and images from the news
Headlines (June 28 – July 4, 2020) 22 by 23 inches, acrylic, charcoal, graphite and image transfers collage on canvas, 2020

Composition

Using a photography layout program on my computer I collage together images from the news with headlines. The text of the headlines also becomes a visual element that shapes my work. This composition process, while not directly apparent, is fundamental to the creation of this series. I spend a duration of time adjusting and refining the layout to ensure that the viewer sees the information and concept that I intend.

Preparation

Preparing the canvas is also part of my preliminary work. After measuring and cutting, I tack the edges of my canvas down to a wooden board to stretch the substrate flat. Using an offset spatula, I spread matte medium on the canvas to prime it and to partially obliterate the texture of the woven material. I let the medium dry and then repeat this layering at least two more times. Then I spread on a coat of grey paint mixed with matte medium to make it semi transparent. The grey colored background in each piece is intended to be different. 

Making a few gestural marks in charcoal, I break up the pristine surface of the canvas. These initial lines add a loose structure to the finished piece. They also become the lines which literally unite the images on the canvas and figuratively unite people across communities.

Image Transfers

Hands in water bath with waterslide transfer
Preparing waterslide image transfer by soaking in water

I print the images from my composition onto waterslide decal paper, which is a special image transfer material. Measuring carefully to match my computer layout composition, I mark the exact placement of each image. I then soak the transfers in water to removing the backing then carefully place them on the canvas. Wiping up any excess water as I work, I gently smooth the black and white images down. I spread a layer of matte medium on top of these transfers.

Painting

Hand painting image transfers of news headlines
Hand painting image transfers

When the clear medium is dry and set I hand paint the images based on the original colors. I use acrylic paint mixed with matte medium to achieve a transparent effect. This ensures that the authentic image shows through. Looking at the original images for reference, I strive to capture the colors and feelings of the factual event. Again, I spread a layer of matte medium on top of the hand coloring.

Headline Transfers

To add the headline text I use a matte medium image transfer process. To begin I print out the words, reversing the direction of the type. It is basically a mirror image printed onto regular printer paper. I trim the extra paper of each headline and then carefully measure its placement on the canvas, again referring back to my digital composition. I coat the paper and the canvas with matte medium and then burnish the transfer down into place, squeezing out any trapped air and ensuring good adhesion. 

When the paper transfers are completely dry, I wet the back of the paper and then remove the paper fiber from the canvas. By scrapping with a plastic tool, rubbing with damp terrycloth and smoothing with my hands and fingers, eventually all the paper is dislodged leaving only the ink from the print. What was printed backwards now appears correctly.  

Hands working on matte medium image transfers on a painting
Matte medium image transfers of headlines

More Paint

At this point, in many of my paintings, I brush on semi-transparent grey or white paint to block out certain words or parts of the painting. As certain news outlets try to coverup or manipulate what viewers are reading, I also, am emphasizing what is being reconstructed, altered, and omitted. The semi transparent medium however, selectively allows some of my original headlines to show through.

Lastly, I spread a final layer of matte medium on top of the entire image to unify and seal in all the different elements. From the size, shape and transparency to the use of color and text, all the layered elements are integrated in a way that is reminiscent of a newspaper even though each piece is a multifaceted acrylic and collage work.