40th Entry - 2013 Past Life Series, Part Two

The request was simple enough,
ten people, only ten
trace your hands and mail them in.

One by one they began arriving. Like friends sharing the latest news or a personal secret. And every time a new set arrived I got excited like a little kid at a celebration. It amazes me how this simple act can be so intimate in its way, forming a relationship rather complex though silent. The promise of a beginning, an adventure of sorts and so much potential to grasp with each unique duo.

Some were folded, I made no specification as to how I wanted them other than labeling the right hand with an 'R'. I am particularly fond of that letter but my reasons we're far more practical. I did this because depending on what kind of paper they use the image could bleed through and one would never be able to tell which is face up. The folds I don't mind and not wanting to complicate the project for my participants I just took them out myself. This formed no challenge at all. A simple way to remove creases from most papers is to take a cloth, or in this case wax paper and iron it after a gentle misting with water. Set the iron only warm enough that it doesn't scorch the object. It doesn't take any time at all. I did this to make sure the palms were flat enough that I could do the next step easily. 

With a wide handled blade i was able to remove most of the paper quickly. Once this was done for both hands I would then get every detail, in the lines with a thin razor blade which allowed for greater precision.

I loved this part, the assembly and positioning of the palms onto the treated canvas. Muscles on bare bones, the kinetic component and influence. Each canvas is soaked in a kind of 'tea' for lack of a better word. Made from Cinnamon and other herbs & spices then set out to dry. Anyone who deals with inks will tell you that such recipes are guarded like grandma's tomato sauce recipe haha if not more fiercely, most basics are fine and even fun to share. I particularly love incorporating purely old world recipes in creating my refined work, The process of making ones own special colors is a fine art.

Transferring the palms onto the treated canvas was a matter of trace. This way I could get an exact impression of the person's palm. To do this I used a home made ink. The recipe is very easy to use, completely environmentally friendly and will even spoil in time so if made in bulk needs to be stored properly.

I used to use an ancient tattooing recipe jacked up a few centuries to include vodka and carbon ashes  from burnt wood (very easy to make just mix parts to desired thickness). Now for a free spirit such as myself, this was a fun mixture and in time I realized I was enjoying sipping the vodka more than I was painting with it so to self parent, stay clear and focused I laughed at myself and switched recipes. I use a formula very similar to old quill inks used for writing. Its easy to make yourself, of course I have my own method but its still very simple.

To create your own Black Ink:
one egg yolk,
½ teaspoon lamp black,
½ cup honey

What is 'Lamp black'?  Well, before you go hunting for it here and there put simply its the dark thick resin created when a candle (be it wax or oil) is held near to metal or glass. I'm sure if you've ever touched the burnt wick of one you've seen it on your fingers. Lamp Black is available in stores or
you can make it yourself by holding an old ramekin or an old plate or really any receptacle you choose over a lit candle, I prefer this method though it does take a while to collect half a teaspoon.

Mix all the ingredients to make a thick paste, then add your water only enough so that it flows easilly, some people will add one teaspoon gum arabic. This item can be purchased in craft and art stores, I'm not fond of the shiny appearance it gives things so I omit this for alternatives depending on what my goals are for the element. This simple formula can be used for a variety of colors, simply purchase or create a pigment powder and substitute that for the Lamp Black. Play with the recipe if you'd like so that you get what you prefer, practice makes perfect.

Once the palms were completely liberated from any extra paper,  they were positioned and transferred by painting them directly onto the canvas. This was the most pains taking process because I really wanted to be as exact as I possibly could be. I prefer dealing with a subject this way rather than them being there, from experience I've learned that the ink does stain the person's palm and the brush actually tickles them a combo that ultimately just makes a really big mess.

With this method I am able to more closely focus on the lines and not be distracted by the details of a conversation or the being concerned with subjects comfort. It moves organically and honestly this way.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this installment in my process. I am nearing the completion of my very first work in this series. I can't wait to share more with you next week. Thank you for taking the time, hope you check back soon.

- more later :)


michael culver said…
Thanks for sharing this with us Patrick! Can't wait to hear more. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours my friend!!

Popular posts from this blog

39th entry - the 'Past Life Series of 2013' a beginning

21st Entry, August 27th 2008