From workshop to work: rocks and cracks and success

I find I need to take a quick break and write down what I’ve been doing in the studio.
First, I took a bunch of excellent workshops at the “2018 Art of the Carolina’s” event in November.

Inspired by broken sidewalks!
One of these (and I’ll get to the others separately) was an experimental technique taught/introduced by Carol Nelson. I was inspired to try to make it my own. After a few tries, and I know it takes iteration and works to get a technique to work for me, my eye, my sensitivities, and my voice. That’s one of the things I love about art: painting. And mostly, or rather – most of the time – it’s worth it. For each of the pieces below, I started by creating surface texture and some inspiration from photos of sidewalk cracks. The texture look and feel is produced from a multitude of tools. I used some Golden acrylic mediums, and then some spackle from the hardware store. You can find different types of spackle (popcorn ceiling, smooth, etc.) I like these because they’re pretty inexpensive and adds a little experimentation to the mix. You don’t know how they’re going to turn out; a bit unpredictable in terms of art supplies. 
It doesn’t look like much yet. I am finding that just like paint, don’t be stingy with the mediums. If you’re going to use them, use them! 🙂
These 2 products were from the workshop. When I went to the hardware store, the packaging can look different. That’s ok, it’s what’s inside that matters 🙂

These are some experiments with the whole rock formation idea. None of these is complete but is complete enough to review for improvements/successes. I can see some good outcomes. I can make the surface look like a rock with glazes, undertone, and texture.
As nearly always, the challenge is in the composition. The insert, where there would be broken rock or gaps in the formation in nature is an obvious focal zone/instrument. I tend to like value (change), line, and shape (interest) for my works. Somehow, these aren’t quite doing it for me.
I do like the white spaces/rocks on the 3rd (blue/orange) piece. I like the orange; its vibrancy is eye-catching. Still, not enough here to keep my interest. So, what next? Do I give up on this? Do I try a different approach? I don’t exactly want to copy Carol on the technique, but use hers as a starting point to create something from me.
Well, so I tried to renew my approach. New as in, not exactly the way we were taught in the workshop, but I think these may help me achieve a vision. Since I wasn’t happy with the compositional outcomes, I decided to prioritize that component in each stage. The photos of the sidewalk cracks have turned out to be of little value, but a good inspiration to get started. The random-ness and organic aspects are useful. But having a structure or compositional framework from the beginning is helpful. Here’s a recent one:
The result is much more pleasing to me. And the overall is a combination of rock formation and stained glass. This I like. I could play with the colors and make them sing a bit more when I knew I could get away with a bit more. I love the line-work. All in all, I think this is a successful outcome. I’m delighted with it. I’m working on another new piece in this style. I’ll add it when it’s complete, or maybe stages along its development. Stay tuned. 🙂

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