As the calendar image for the month of October is Forgotten Corner, I thought I would share how I made the painting, starting from the initial sketchbook drawing to the finished canvas. The subject of the painting centres around one of the hand-built pots which were produced in this area until relatively recently. One of the last potteries in Harakopio was in operation just behind my studio until the 1970’s apparently. There’s plenty of evidence of the lost kiln – broken shards of pots are strewn around the olive grove and when we re-built our boundary wall we found it was little more than a big mound of broken pottery and mud! This particular pot sits quietly in the corner of a long-abandoned village courtyard, where it presumably receives enough rainfall to keep the plant alive…
So that’s the back story…. but how did this small sketchbook drawing become such a large canvas painting? And how did I get all that lettering in there? I could be mysterious about it, but there is no mystery really – just a desire to explore new techniques, a bit of skill and quite a lot of time and patience!
The process I use is a form of transfer technique using acrylic medium and black and white laser copies. In this case there are two separate layers of transfers (plus a bit of collage, just to complicate matters!). Firstly I scan the original drawing and flip it, so it appears back to front, which looks really strange. Then I enlarge it – a lot – and have it printed on a professional, large-scale laser copier. These machines are not so easy to find and so far I’ve had the copies done in batches whilst in the UK.
Next the bottom layer is adhered to the cotton canvas using matte medium (posh glue). It takes a bit of practice to get this right. Too much medium and there are air bubbles. Too little medium and parts of the image don’t stick, plus you get air bubbles. The larger the canvas/image, the more tricky it is. Also in hot weather the medium dries quicker of course…. so that’s a bit of a difficulty in Greece!
Having stuck the first layer, you then need to act quickly to try to peel off some of the paper pulp. The idea is that the lazer copy ink/toner bonds to the canvas via the medium and the paper gets peeled away. In practice, it always takes ages to remove the paper on a large piece like this. You need to coax it away carefully by rubbing with fingertips and dampening it a little until most of the pulp is removed.Then the procedure is repeated with the second layer ie the drawing of the pot in this case. It is a time-consuming, tedius yet strangely addictive process. It’s very exciting when you finally remove enough pulp from the top layer to see the text below clearly.
Then the painting begins. I tend to work with fluid acrylic paints and use them rather like watercolours in the beginning at least – blocking in areas with a light base colour. Too much or too opaque paint obscures the lettering, which rather defeats the purpose of the technique. I continue to apply fluid paint, gradually building up the layers over the whole canvas and paint in the detail.
I tend to use layers of wax in between layers of paint and scrape it away to get a weathered look. Finally I start to add texture with a couple of colours of opaque paint plus white, taking care not to cover up the text! The opaque paint is variously stamped, sprayed, splashed and stencilled onto the canvas. Finally, the whole canvas is coated with a transparent layer or two of varnish.
As well as being the October ’18 Pin Up, the Forgotten corner original painting is available HERE, and also available as stretched canvas print or fine art print in several sizes.