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Getting Gritty

The last few days I tried experimenting with the technique demonstrated in the Gritty Arts Studio video I posted over the weekend. I had a container of Liquitex Ceramic Stucco Texture Gel sitting around the studio, so instead of purchasing some gel medium like Jane uses in her video, I smeared this stuff onto canvas board. This is the fun part! But, the stucco texture gel is thick and gritty and you do start to feel like you’re plastering dry wall! I think the gel medium, like Jane uses, would be a more pleasant and easier application–like frosting a cake! I used an old credit card, both a smooth edge and one that I already cut grooves into for texture. The lines I drew with a blunt pencil. I attacked the pieces without any plans or ideas of how I wanted it to turn out.

No, I lied. Truth is I wanted them to be beautiful and eloquent like the one Jane made in her video. She was so natural and care free about it, and the results was an abstract piece of textural poetry. I love when patterns, lines, colors, and textures compliment and contrast themselves perfectly. I love when Art lends itself to a wanting to be touched. That’s what Jane’s piece was to me. I wanted to touch it and look at it–two senses for the price of one!

I have always had a thing for textural Art. Do you know who Anselm Kiefer is? He is definitely one of my favorite Artists. At the Cleveland Museum of Art one of Kiefer’s most famous paintings titled Lot’s Wife lives and breathes in the Contemporary Gallery. First, this painting is HUGE! Takes up the whole entire wall–almost from floor to the high ceiling. Second, this painting is extremely organic! Third, you can not help but be pulled in to the image he created of an isolated, abandoned railroad track. There are so many layers to this painting—both physically and metaphorically, that with each moment I spent admiring it, I pulled another layer off like a fresh onion. Lot’s Wife beckoned to be touched. So much that they had to put a security system on it. Kiefer intended his work to be this way, even cooler, he intended for his paintings to eventually disintegrate and fade away.

Experimenting with Jane’s technique was a learning experience. I never approached painting in this style before. I’ve used texture, and even the stucco gel, but never as a means to then carve into the painting. I really like that idea. Reminds me of making a linoleum print, or carving into clay–both things I find very meditative and relaxing tasks. But, I am disgusted by how my piece came out. I actually did a second one, that was even worse then the first—like Superman Ice Cream splattered on canvas board!! Yeah. But its this uncomfortable feeling of not getting it, that is such a great lesson for me…especially right before school is about to begin. How important it is for the teacher to be reminded what exactly the student goes through. That frustration that comes with seeing something done so easily, having a preconceived idea of the outcome in your mind, then after attempting the new lesson—you’re left with crap. This is where, as teachers, you can really lose a student. I see it all the time in school, and I’m quick with building on the positive aspects and then offering both assistance and alternatives for the aspects the student struggles with.

I’m not going to quit though. I’m going to buy myself some gel medium like Jane uses and try again. I understand the technique now, and I’m ready to explore how it can be incorporated into my own Art. How funny– just a simple Art project can be so reflective of life in general. This experience made me think. How often do we as adults challenge ourselves with something new? Seriously–I create every day, and how long has it been since I traveled outside my comfort zone like I did with this piece? Answer: a looong time. Think of other things in our life: cooking, forms of exercise, even conversations with friends and family. How often do we keep repeating the same thing over and over just to dye it a different hue and call it a day?

Maybe I think too much. But even a simple painting lesson can probe us to look deeper into our life and habits. Thank you Jane at Gritty Arts Studio, what a wonderful teacher you are!

Peace & Love.

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