Made In USA

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anatomy of a Painting

November 18, 2009

This time-lapse video has been out on YouTube for a couple of weeks now and I’m getting loads of inquiries about the process of both the painting and the video. Many of the techniques used to create the painting are lost in the low quality video. Like most paintings it is best viewed in person to get a better sense of the intricate textures. As of last Saturday it along with several others from the series is on display at the Discovery Gallery, Bethesda, MD. At last check none of them are posted to their website.

The painting process: On a wood panel cut to size with a handsaw that belonged to my grandfather, given to me by my father, I applied newspaper articles relevant to the US auto industry and GM in particular in a somewhat random arrangement.

Through extensive research I found a few good references of authentic vintage colors and original and restored front emblems from which to draw. After drafting the logo in place I applied several acrylic glazes to the areas outside of the logo space.

Using a spray bottle I “spit” Isopropyl alcohol over the wet acrylic glazes to give the car’s paint an aged, dirty look. Once the glazes were dry I rolled on a two part crackling glaze and left it to dry overnight. Into the cracks that appeared, I blended and rubbed in two oil glazes wiping off the excess allowing the glazes to fill the cracks.

At this point the newspapers were veiled by a semi-transparent bed of layers, with the exception of the area that was to receive the logo, which remained fully exposed. For the areas of the emblem that were enameled in the original production, I only glazed with a thin red and blue oil mixture. This allowed the text to remain visible. The chrome portions were applied using oil paints mixed with a heavy wax medium.

The rusted area at the bottom of the image was achieved by spraying a muriatic acid solution with copper salts over a metal flake paint. The resulting chemical reaction creates real rust. Once I got the look I wanted from the rust, I came back into areas where the rust met the crackled paint finish with artists oils to add drop shadows.

To this and every painting in this series I screen-printed a Made in USA stamp. (Usually on the side.) Each Rust in Peace painting comes with its own mock title authenticating the year, make and model of the subject as well as the medium, size and date of completion.

I tried to simplify the explanation while imparting insight to each step without a boring, drawn-out soliloquy. I hope this provides a better understanding of what is going on in the video and how the processes combine to make the finished painting.