Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dot Line and Scribble

This new painting is an impression of imagery inspired by the 1965 Jazz musical animation short, "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics" (MGM), which was inspired by a book that Norton Juster had written a few years earlier. The painting was begun just before the passing of influential animator and producer of the cartoon, Chuck Jones, and was just recently finished to a point where I feel good when I stand in front of it. I enjoy what the layers of paint do in the light, in addition to the somewhat whimsical theme. This is one of those instances where I don't care very much whether or not a viewer "gets it". Usually I care a great deal about the final imagery when dealing with art that is Conceptual and/or Representational especially, but when I began this painting I was feeling the unhindered abandon of "Scribble". I'd found a copy of the original book which of course brought to mind the cartoon that had jazzed me up so much as a kid (big Tom and Jerry watcher here), and that was plenty to get the inspirational fires burning for fun. Overall I supposed this painting is/was about self gratification and experimentation... mine as well as the characters in the story.

"Dot Line and Scribble" by Tree Pruitt
"Dot Line and Scribble" by Tree Pruitt, 30" x 20" oil painting on canvas.
I wanted to not just paint but to see what the paint would do. The paint rests on the canvas in several layers. At the time I'd begun I was working often with dark under-paintings, so I knew I wanted to play with something bright that time. In some of the lightest areas the gesso of the canvas prime shows through as a matte white. Strokes of slick Titanium White feather over that and into a warm mix of colors with overlapping strokes. This allows the light in a room to pass through those textured layers, giving a sense of vibration. In my photos it seems to look blotchy and dingy rather than shimmery because, though I may photograph a lot of things well, photographing my canvas art is something I've not mastered. At the bottom of the painting a muted green was scraped via pallet knife over the bright layers while they were still slightly tacky to the touch so that they smeared and mixed a bit.
"Dot Line and Scribble" by Tree Pruitt

One of the reasons it's taken so long for this painting to feel finished has to do with some of the methods I used. I wanted to be sure of the paintings soundness (no music pun intended there) before calling it as finished. The thick line that passes through the middle (Indian Red) was forced to crackle. Without having an over-the-counter crackle medium at hand I experimented with using a medium that improves paint adhesion, and I also removed some of the oil from the paint (via setting it on absorbent paper) for a fluid mixture. I applied that over the old layer of paint with a higher fat content, then waited for that to set-up. After a few months the line did indeed crackle! After a few more months passed I scrapped at the line with a razor blade to remove any flakes of paint that had cracked up and to reveal the lighter colors underneath randomly. I like the effect. The final touches that were added included a thin solid black line over top of the thicker crackled line. This line of Lamp Black paint was given a high amount of oil (fat) to a mixture of the same adhesion medium. In theory it should not crack, but should remain solid for the life of the painting (knock on wood).

Always a beloved inspiration theme, a bit of a tribute to a beloved artist, and a fun project that I think worked.

"Dot Line and Scribble" 2012 by Tree Pruitt, 30" x 20" oil painting on canvas. *Original art images ©Tree Pruitt, unless otherwise indicated. Contact the artist prior to use.

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