A Piece of Me – the beginning

September 12, 2019

Self portrait in Casablanca

Self portrait in Casablanca outside of the Hasan II mosque.

Last week I finished the preparation of 64 identically sized panels (21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.) for a new project. It consists of cutting up a full length photograph (which happens to be a self-portrait, see left) into 64 identically sized pieces and then painting each piece differently, so in a different medium. Since there are not 64 different mediums, in effect, I’ve reduced my approach to five: egg tempera, encaustic, the mixed technique, oils and acrylics. Preparation-wise then, each medium receives the ground appropriate to it: egg tempera receives chalk gesso; encaustic and mixed technique, ditto; while oils receive an oil ground; and acrylics, acrylic gesso. Additionally each panel receives a pre-treatment (or not) thus: plain wood (so, no treatment); linen (glued on, using rabbit-skin glue); collage (glued on, again using rabbit-skin glue); pre-textured sculpting (I used acrylic modeling paste for the acrylic and oil panels while I experimented with pastiglia for the egg tempera, encaustic and mixed technique panels). Needless to say such an approach presents a bit of a logistical nightmare but excel spreadsheets can, indeed, work miracles.

Nils, final full-sized assembled painting. 6‘ 02” x 3‘ 6” or 188 x 107 cm

Nils, 1978, final full-sized assembled painting. 6‘ 02” x 3‘ 6” or 188 x 107 cm

Anyway, instead of this appearing to be a new direction, actually, it’s not. It’s a return to the kind of work I was doing approximately forty years ago, see “Nils” right. You can read more about that painting project here. I did a few other smaller pieces at that time trying out that same approach and I briefly dabbled with it again (as an approach) in 2011. But after stumbling upon an appropriate photograph earlier this year, I’m drawn to return to it now with a deeper understanding of many things. So, here we go. I love how the compositions you receive with this approach are completely arbitrary and spontaneous. The challenge as always is to create a sensorial unity, something beautiful and interesting in its own right individually and of course, in the final assembled result.

15 Responses to “A Piece of Me – the beginning”


  1. […] on the left is the first in a long series, now officially “off the press”. The full description of the whole project is on my companion wordpress web-blog site, atelierartisanal.com. In all these panels I want to […]


  2. […] been doing underdrawings for the other panels (of this big 64 panel project that you can read about here) earlier this week, thus yesterday I was able to return to the egg tempera series. Here on the left […]


  3. […] You can read an overview about the whole project here. […]


  4. […] I completed this panel, #46, in the egg tempera series yesterday. It was an intriguing piece to paint since I was applying lightly tinted washes over an already sculpted pastiglia surface – that had also received its preparatory black and white underdrawing in india ink. So in one sense, I had my work already cut out for me. But in another sense I had colors to coordinate and to balance, as well as textures to enhance. Compositionally, the design of the piece is quite strong, an almost white, emphatic vertical thrust on the left (the leg of my linen pants) which needs to balance with a series of tinted trapezoids (floor tiles) on the right. Luckily, there was some drapery top left whose hues and values echo some of the  shapes on the right. The pastiglia quickly and easily enhanced the chiaroscuro I wanted to add to my pants leg. I’m happy: this stands alone and, I think, will integrate well in the final assemblage. You can read a description of the full project here. […]


  5. […] Here is #51, next in the egg tempera series. It’s an abstract design (of a section of a plastered wall) that, at first, had seemed deceptively easy. But, in fact, the area of gray and white depicted on the far left required integration, that is, it stood out like a sore thumb until I had supplied a light echo to it on the bottom, right. They say a missing word can cause a poem to bleed. I find the same is true of a painting – no matter what the subject matter. Alternatively – when it’s successful – a work of art is driven by its own inner unity, to which the artist must kneel. An overview of the whole project can be read here. […]


  6. […] Now the egg tempera pieces are starting to become more complex. This one still has some basic “abstract” shapes but the importance of chiaroscuro in the foreground is becoming more pronounced. This one took me more time, so also more patience while it challenged my skills. For example, achieving the dark black area on the left is already difficult in egg tempera. The medium itself is translucent, the brush strokes dry almost immediately upon contact with the gesso and thick impasto strokes are inadvisable for technical reasons, so blending just isn’t an option. Achieving a field of an extremely dark value or saturated hue then requires the build up of countless layers of light washes. It’s a very meditative technique. You have to love it. Impetuous temperaments, be forewarned: don’t even think about scaling this mountain. You can read a description of the full project here. […]


  7. […] You can read a description of the full project here. […]


  8. […] You can read a description of the full project here. […]


  9. […] a surprise and a challenge to do since it contained so many figures – and parts of figures. But because of my approach on this project I do not (for the most part) design the composition, rather, I design the approach (and even […]


  10. […] The black and white underdrawing on the right, the fully colored developed painting on the left. A full overview description of the whole project is here. […]


  11. […] is one of the more interesting spontaneous compositions of the overall project. When I first saw it, I wasn’t sure what the long haired girl was doing. Then it hit me, of […]


  12. […] But it’s also important to keep in mind that egg tempera, in contrast to the other media  of this project (that is, oil, encaustic and acrylic) requires a final coat of protective varnish. This will darken […]


  13. […] speed of image development will most likely be true for all the “abstract” panels of this project (see link for a full description). The figurative panels will, most likely, require more time, […]


  14. […] Here is the second of the mixed technique series (see the category description on the right for a full explanation of the technique). Like #47 before it, this one is another abstract design principally of the tile flooring in front of the great mosque at Casablanca. You can read about the concept behind the whole project here. […]


  15. […] mixed technique). Here, compositionally, I am still navigating within the abstract flooring pieces of the larger composition. The plan for this panel called for a collage. Thus, in the very early stages I glued a number of […]


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