Impasto experiments

Last summer, I taught some private painting lessons for young adults. One of the skills I demonstrated was impasto, which is a technique that uses larger amounts of paint to create texture with its thickness. Van Gogh often used this technique.

These are a some acrylic experiment paintings I used to show examples of impasto to my students:

IMG_1088Geryon, inspired by Anne Carson’s story Autobiography of Red. Created with palette knife and brush.

IMG_5722Noontide. Memory landscape finger-painting.

IMG_1092Bunny Fantasia, created using a palette knife and brush.

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So I got Afterlight…

Afterlight: a photo editing app for 99 cents. It’s great, it’s cheap, it helps you cheat by taking crappy digital photos and filtering the heck out of them so they can have an instant film quality. It is now my new favorite instant-gratification process because I don’t have the cash for real cameras yet and I have developed a crush on film photography. I’m pretty sure I used it for three days straight this week. Yeah, it kind of made my vision a little weird from staring at a small screen for so long, but, hey, I “developed” some prints I think I’m excited about.

 

Cayucos

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Death Valley

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Anberlin at The Observatory, 2013

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Bass Lake

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2014 Roadtrip

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Saline (pt. IV)

If I could find you now, things would get better, we could leave this town and run foreverI know somewhere somehow we’ll be together, let your waves crash down and take me away-ee-ay-ee-yeah–

Everyone needs a pop-punk romance like Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue.” Whenever I listen to the song now, it reminds me of this one time I was out surfing with my family a few weeks before I turned 15. Two blond boys my age showed up in the water near us. The cute one was making splashes as he back-flipped off his board when he finished a ride. We started talking as we waited for a swell. His name was Sean, the other guy was called Joey. They were from Springfield. Before I left to go home, Sean and I caught a wave at the same time and he tried to jump on my board. I had starfish and quicksilver in my head for the next three months. 

I started listening to Mae about this time, too, the band that swooned me with their song “The Ocean,”singing You come over unannounced, silence broken by your voice in the dark, I need you here tonight just like the ocean needs the waves. It would make me feel soft and nostalgic for a time I hadn’t breathed in yet; it was my dream serenade.

The next time I came back to Cayucos, I watched the break from the Beach House window, checking every hour to see if I would catch sight of someone back-flipping off their board to signal when I could suit up and dive into my daydream again. 

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Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling….When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and [yet] with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience.

Edmund Burke distinguishes the Sublime from the Beautiful. The Beautiful is small, delicate, smooth, pleasurable, finite, and controllable by the viewer. Conversely, the Sublime is vast, rigid, infinite, powerful, inspires a sense of pain and/or danger, has the ability to control the viewer, and a produces a terror delightfully felt when beheld at a safe distance. Burke argued that the human ability to find delight in something terrible is actually what allows us to have sympathy for each other or be inspired by awe instead of wanting to throw up and run for the hills. It keeps us tending to others’ wounds and solving murder mysteries, the same as it keeps us watching thunderstorms and drawing lions. 

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I made a map. Utilization of hands, fingers, narrow palette knives, and bristle brushes were chosen for a thick, impasto rendering. Paying attention to rules of physics, light, and color would agree with Formalism; I would deviate slightly by emphasizing saturation to evoke an emotional vibration.