Have I told you that I love painting? Who'da thunk it? I know I wouldn't have in high school. I was in all the art classes I could be in. I painted among the many other art creation things I did. But art in high school is so vast and so survey. You're constantly moving from medium to medium to medium and maybe some people could find focus in one area like pottery or painting. I never found that then.
Instead, I followed the notion that the highest form of art was being a film director. It mixed writing and visuals and had the ability to move people in ways my high school brain could understand. So instead of pursuing art, I focused on becoming a filmmaker and went into film school. How that ended up is another chapter for another post.
But painting, it never stuck or occurred to me. When I first picked up a brush again, in my 30's, it felt good and right. Like an extension of my arm. Myself. When I sit down to do the work, I'm constantly amazed that the end product came from me.
People ask, how do you do that? Truly, its beyond me.
Some call it a creative muse. My zen teacher and many zen teachers before her might call it the Dharma unfolding in front of me. I may be predisposed to the zen definition, but that is how painting feels to me. It builds and it moves in that way like a path unfolding in front of you and you move step by step by step. Then sometimes you are done with a painting. And then you're on to the next one.
This piece titled Mt. Bodacious is one that I'm proud of. It's big. I should have me standing next to it for scale. I had the idea for a trucker hat on top of the mountain back last summer. I made the font kind of like the font for this BMX VHS called Rad I remember from my years as a video store clerk. But this was back in the summer. It wasn't until March that I started working on the painting.
I finally started working on the painting in March. As usual, I gessoed the "canvas" on the area I was going to paint the hat. For this one I decided to do a gouache underpainting. I try to do this with most of my paintings, using shades of burnt sienna to get the tone quality to the piece. I don't always do this step but it really helps give me something to build upon. Next I did the first pass at the acrylics. I usually go pretty harsh and bold to set up my color palette and then add more layers that blend the image to subdue the tones and let them blend more with each other and the piece.
Now one of the hardest parts in doing these paintings is getting my new image to blend with the original. That means not just picking up the tone of the background but adjusting to the smoke, sun, or even water damage of the original piece. My final step is to make the new paint blend on the print. My trick? Mod Podge. Its like watery glue. I usually brush it over the whole canvas to make the texture uniform.
When I was done painting, I felt like something was missing. I needed to add one last detail which came in the form of a little brass plaque with the title of the piece. I thought it'd be funny to make it seem like Mt. Bodacious was an actual place. If you ever get a chance to visit Mt. Bodacious, take a picture for me.
Ben J Hutchison
I am an aspiring children's book writer and illustrator.