Failed Friendship New Beginning

My final assignment for the Online Coursera course In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting by The Museum of Modern Art with Instructor Corey D’Augustine

Finally! A happy accident…

assignment courseraFor my final assignment I looked to Agnes Martin and took inspiration from her piece Friendship (1963). Always wanting to try working with gold leaf I thought this a great opportunity to give this material a try and try reinterpreting Martins Friendship piece is some new way. Using a Gotrick 12″ x 12” primed stretched canvas I coated the surface with a layer of Sennelier luscious acrylic hot pink straight from the bag. After letting the painted canvas dry in the sun I then coated the canvas with Rolco quick dry gilding size. Again letting the canvas dry in the sun I waited the minimum recommended hour for the gilding size to dry a bit and become tacky to the touch. To the tacky canvas surface I applied Speedball Mona Lisa Metal Gold Leaf brushing down the light leaf with a soft brush. Laying the gold leaf down I overlapped neighbouring pieces of the gold leaf. At this point I realized I was getting a bit over my head as I wasn’t sure how to trim away the lose part of the gold leaf not adhering to tacky gilding size. In a panic I tried to brush away the loose flap of the gold leaf. As I brushed the surface the gold leaf began to tear at the joining seams. The hot pink was starting to show though but not where I wanted it to. Once all the loose gold leaf was removed I began inscribing the surface of the gold leaf with a sharp pin. Instead of following the horizontal and vertical lines as on Martin’s Friendship I rotated my line 45 degrees. I still had a grid like in Martin’s work but by angling the grid lines it created an inscribed diamond pattern look on the surface. The scraping of the surface with the pin did remove the gold leaf but instead of revealing the hot pink underlayer a chalky white line appeared. My sharp scribe and heavy handedness had pushed the pin deeper into the surface of the canvas than i had intended, I cut through the acrylic underpainting all the way down into the white priming of the canvas. At this point I was really getting frustrated and did not want to go any further. If not for the impending due date I would have thrown the work in the trash and started over. Instead of trashing the piece I decided to take a photo of the piece up to this point; a souvenir to remind me of what not to do when working with gold lead. But an odd thing happened when I looked at the photo, I did not see the my failed application of the gold lead instead I was wowed by what the shinny gold surface was showing me. The image of the canvas my camera produced glistened with colours. The red of my tee-shirt, the black of my studio chair, whites, greens and blues from the the books on the shelves behind me. All these colours playing off the surface gave the gilded surface a wonderful shimmer of colours. I think this is one of those happy accidents artists talk about. I think I got to experience it. My attempt at Friendship failed but I think I am onto a new beginning.

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