The Saltaire Studio

Scaling up

Scaling up

So I have a bit of a gap between art fairs and workshops which has enabled me to crack on with some new work in preparation for the Biscuit Factory exhibition which starts in November.

I have absolutely loved being back in the studio painting and this time I have been experimenting with scale and surface. So some of you will know my earlier work when I painted large oils on canvas. For the last 3 years I have been mainly painting with cold wax on a smaller scale and on paper. I love working on the paper but you can only scale up so far with work that has to be behind glass, unless of course you fix the paper to the board and, well I know that will just go terribly wrong for me. 

With boards I have to prep them before I can paint on them so that has involved lots of white gesso and very wet boards stacked around the studio waiting to dry. Not a great when you have very inquisitive kitts around the house. 

Paula Dunn Artist kitten trouble

Now I'm not all that experienced with priming as I have tended to buy already primed canvas so this was a whole new ball game for me. I gave each board 3 layers of white acrylic gesso. This is to ensure that the board doesn't soak up all the paint but also to prevent it from warping if I use any water based medium. I have also primed the back of the boards, again to protect and prevent the larger boards from warping. Using a small roller is perfect for this job and provides a much more even coverage than a paint brush.

Paula Dunn Artist priming boards

So my studio is a little cramped at the moment (because I have all these boards being primed!) and I have been working from a table for the last 2-3 years so it wasn't practical to move back to working from an easel. The board is big at 76 x 76 cm but not compared to the big beasties I used to create on stretched canvas. I did need to adjust my table and move between that and a drawing board so that I reach the whole board.

Because of the scale I used brayers and squeegees to do a lot of the hard work getting colour down and blending.

Paula Dunn Artist the crossing

Here you can see exactly how I used the squeegee to blend.

I really wanted to recreate those dramatic skies that you normally see in my smaller works on paper but this was quite challenging because of the size but also because the surface was dragging quite a bit so I really had to work quickly to ensure I could  still use my techniques for blending and for creating "washes" of transparent colours. I did add oil medium into the mix which helped a lot.

Paula Dunn Crossing

I did get a little carried away with that turquoise colour at one point and after leaving the painting to rest for a day I came back and pushed it back a little.

Paula Dunn Artist Crossing

Paula Dunn Artist crossing

I have now spent the last couple of weeks adding a gloss varnish to the painting to really make those colours glow.

Paula Dunn Artist Crossing

Oh and the painting has been signed (on the back!) by both contributors!

Paula Dunn Artist crossing

So big boards are really working for me and I so love the gorgeous glossy finish varnishing gives especially when contrasted against the chalky white gessoed cradle (the big chunky sides of the painting).

Painting these have been a little bit tricksy as I have had to change my technique a little but I am really pleased with how they have turned out and I am really excited to be experimenting more with these boards.

The Crossing will be heading up north to Newcastle at the end of October for their Winter Show. Contact me directly if you would like further details. 

Oil and cold wax workshops