“Corrosion”: oil on board 12×10 inches

For a few weeks now, on and off, I have been playing around with my tin of Gamblin cold wax medium. Oils tend to be a medium on their own; there isn’t much you can mix with them for experimentation, other than odd things like sand, dirt, twigs, etc. In recent years there has been a bit more available like metallic powders and pigments, for example. I’d never come across cold wax until I saw a few people with it on Youtube. Being forever of an inquisitive mind, I got myself a tin, a few books and began to examine what this stuff was about. I needed to find out whether I could make use of it for my own paintings, or explore a new direction with it.

A lot of artists layer on the paint and wax and then scratch into it, even scraping off layers to show what is underneath. It all seems rather intuitive and without a plan. Abstracted work is created as a result of numerous actions; outside influences, favourite colours, random mark-making, someone else’s work, imagination and even actual objects or scenes. I find it quite hard to sit in front of an empty canvas or panel with no subject-matter in front of me.

However…it had to start somewhere, and “Corrosion” began from the examination of a rusty tin from the garden shed. The tin had enough colouring to use as start-point for an underpainting; in this case a bluish-green. The board I chose already had some messy blue-green acrylic paint on it, so another coat of oil with wax and similar toning was sufficient. Once covered, I left it to dry for a day.

On returning to the painting, I added a red-orange on top and immediately saw a good colour contrast. Scraping back revealed the blue-green below; leaving it to dry for another day or so before scraping some more, attempting to emulate the rust and create some kind of composition. The label was added on top after another couple of days, scratched through in places.

So far I have done seven experimental pieces and have learned something different each time. I am beginning to form preferences with regard to the working surface, the paint drying-times and colour combinations. The process is heavy on paint; it is tempting to purchase some student-grade colour and save a few pounds’ cost; the alternative is to keep works relatively small. The largest I am working on right now is a 16×16 inches canvas-board, and that’s plenty big enough.

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