Tag Archives: life size self portrait mixed media painting

A Piece of Me, mixed media collage. 168 x 106.4 cm or 66 x 42 in.

A Piece of Me, the final assemblage

A Piece of Me, mixed media collage. 168 x 106.4 cm or 66 x 42 in.

A Piece of Me, mixed media collage. 168 x 106.4 cm or 66 x 42 in.

A Piece Of Me fully assembled and hanging on the wall. 168 x 106 cm or 5'6" x 3'6''

A Piece Of Me fully assembled and hanging on the wall. 168 x 106 cm or 5’6″ x 3’6”

I have finally been able to create a digital version of this mixed media painting project, A Piece of Me. The physical assembly is illustrated here on the right. After the painting of the individual panels was complete, the assembly entailed framing each one, mounting a backing board onto a wall and then velcro-ing each panel into place. That took me about a month to do. The digital version presented here on the left and above is a pretty good representation of the in-the-flesh version, though the physical version seems to reflect even less dissonance. Who knew?

This then is a life size self-portrait in sixty four pieces. But it’s not about me. Actually it’s about you, since you, as viewer will have to create that unity for yourself. Or not. Alternatively, you are welcome to wander in the individual panels, each of which I strove to create as stand-alone aesthetic unities. The panels were divided into five different painting techniques: egg tempera, encaustic, mixed technique, acrylic and oils. Additionally, approximately fifty percent of the panels are highly tactile. Some were collaged, some were pre-sculpted, some were created with the painting knife and some were done in encaustic (which is already a highly tactile medium). That means that it is half painting/half sculpture – something to be encountered and to allow it to encounter you.

 

A Piece of Me #28, encaustic over collage on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #28, encaustic

A Piece of Me #28, underdrawing in pen and ink.

A Piece of Me #28, underdrawing in pen and ink.

A Piece of Me #28, imprimatura and underpainting.

A Piece of Me #28, imprimatura and underpainting.

This is/was such an interesting panel to do! The design call-out for it was collage and encaustic. Two very textural and graphic media. You put the two together and the effect can be exponential. On top of that, it was a strong composition: strong contrasts of black (shirt) and white (pants). Gestural elements of a wavy linen coat flowing into a resting but sculpted hand. I enjoyed the result at each step along the way. The finished collage was enticing (no photo of that); the underdrawing phase, too (see above, left). I could almost feel that hand. Well, of course I could since it’s mine, still it was being objectified in black and white. So from the beginning his particular panel reinforced my goal for the overall project, I want it to speak viscerally to the viewer.

To begin the encaustic phase I laid in a coat of yellow ochre and proceeded to melt it back off. This had the effect of unifying everything in a golden imprimatura glow. Unsurprisingly the melt off accentuated the textures of the collage, creating white ridges. See the side-lit photograph above, right.  Then I painted a green tone to the skin and melted it back off, too. Again, see the hand in the photo above, right. This concluded my prep.

A Piece of Me #28, encaustic over collage on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #28, encaustic over collage on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

With the exception of the skin tone, the black shirt, white pants and linen jacket went quickly and were pretty straightforward. That was because so much textural variation had already been built into the under layers. However, achieving a variegated chiaroscuro skin tone of the hand in encaustic was more difficult than one might imagine. I opted for creating a sculpted, veined hand in variants of warm and cool tonalities. The result reads well enough for my purposes. Though I must say I had increased respect for those Fayum mummy painters of old.

Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest challenge arrived in the “burning-in” phase. This phase happens when you have completed your painting but you still need to rewarm/remelt the whole surface in order to fuse the paint to the panel. I use a hand held heating lamp for this step. However, because it is a collage, the surface is heavily sculpted: it is not flat. The wax melted and pooled in ways “retrograde to my desire”. Edges blurred. Contrasts merged. So I had some clean up to do after the burn-in. No problem, a small scraping tool along with the little encaustic pen (with its drawing and painting attachments) could be pressed into service. Once completed, I was ready to hang up my guns and call it a day (or two).

Technical write up of using encaustic for an indirect painting technique here.

A Piece of Me #06, egg tempera over pastiglia on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #06, egg tempera

A Piece of Me #06, egg tempera over pastiglia on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #06, egg tempera over pastiglia on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

Third now in the egg tempera series on the left. This one went rather quickly mostly because the pastiglia and underdrawing had already done their homework. I created some light washes for the background, applied some of the architectural shadows and then had fun drawing in the back section of the woman’s head on the left. The pastiglia had already sculpted her hair, so the brush strokes picked up that texture quite easily.

You can read an overview about the whole project here.

A technical write up of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels here.