Anybody who talks to me about my painting process knows I rave about certain art supplies. One is Dorland's Wax Medium
, which I mix with all my paints to add brilliance, body and transparency, and to even out drying time. I'm also pretty crazy about R&F Pigment Sticks
, with their soft, malleable, beautiful colors...they figure into many of my techniques. And finally, Gessobords
made by Ampersand--I started using these a couple of years ago and haven't done a painting on canvas since 2004. Gessobords have this perfect surface--all you have to do is rip off the protective plastic wrap, maybe tape the edges if you are messy like me, and you are ready to paint.
In the midst of my enthusiasm for these products, sometimes a sour little inner voice informs me that I sound awfully dependent on these things. Must I really have this or that from the art supply store in order to make good work? To that voice I say, of course not...but like a chef who has found the perfect kind of olive oil for my recipes, these products are fortuitous discoveries. I'm quite happy to go on about their virtues, their "rightness" in terms of what I'm after in my work, and often recommend them to others.
Besides playing a supportive role, these materials also lead me into new territory, suggesting ideas and directions I might not have thought of otherwise. For example, the modular aspect of Ampersand panels pointed straight to the multiple panel paintings that I do so many of. The qualities of Dorlands Wax naturally led to experiments with layered textures that are now integral to my work.
And yet, all of this is highly individualized...100 painters supplied with Dorlands, Gessobord, a bunch of R&F sticks, and a couple dozen oil colors from various paint makers(I use plenty of tube oils, with special enthusiasm for certain colors)would produce 100 unique paintings, the result of each artist's finely tuned responses. On the other hand, when left to their own devices, those same 100 painters would likely make different choices of materials all together. It's really amazing how specialized and specific we all tend to become!
All this is on my mind because today I found out that an article about my use of Ampersand Gessobord is being featured in the just-published Daniel Smith
catalogue. So I am an official spokesperson. (Ampersand also used my work in their product brochure earlier this year.) Who'd have thought? It takes an excellent product to entice me to such a thing, but there you have it.