187 The Virtues of Chaos

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.T. S. Eliot

I started my recent exploration of abstraction by painting in oils. My hyper-thick applications of oil paint soon proved cost prohibitive and I switched to acrylic–of which I had an ample supply in my studio. I was an early adopter of Golden Acrylics and had dozens of large jars of the Heavy Bodied Paint as well as large bottles of Liquid Acrylics (I painted with acrylics in the early days of my illustration career). I bolstered this supply with a variety of discounted jars I discovered at a local art shop buying nearly the entire inventory (it can be risky buying on-sale acrylics as some jars can be semi-dried. But my purchase was excellent).

While I was painting up a storm with acrylics my abstract oils were slowly drying in the corner. But I soon noticed that the thick passages were beginning to wrinkle–showing signs of alligatoring. Some people call checking alligatoring but that, I feel, is a misnomer. Alligatoring is the wrinkling of oil paint that is applied in an excessively thick layer–which is very different from checkingand caused by an entirely different phenomenon.

Needless to say I was shocked by this development and grateful I switched to acrylics for my upcoming show. Acrylics can be applied thickly but will dry much thinner due to the evaporation of water that gives bulk to the strokes. Additives can be mixed with acrylics but I have yet to achieve the juicy, robust stroke of a brush highly loaded with oil paint. But I’m working on bridging the gap. I have a wide variety of pastes, gels, and additives to give the acrylics various textures.

In the painting above I used a profusion of Clear Tar Gel. It’s an extremely glossy, odd feeling medium with a slight thixotropic quality that may give me the effects I’m looking for. Time and experimentation will tell.

Brad Teare–August 2014

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Updated: 20th June 2024
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