To summarize the process, in case you're interested in doing something similar and giving yourself a headache:
- designed painting in Illustrator, working from an initial photo and color studies
- painted colored ground
- measured and taped outside of shapes (where 2 overlapped - minimizing measuring and taping)
- used matte medium to seal the tape edges (2 coats)
- used gesso on inside of shapes for a nice, white ground
- added tape to define individual shapes, using matte medium to seal new edges
- painted each shape (with fluid acrylics) multiple times to achieve an opaque, smooth surface
- changed tape location and repeated above 2 steps as necessary
- pulled off tape and touched up edges
- matte varnish
Here it is in progress with the tape still on. As you can see it was very hard to judge how the final piece would look and I did have to repaint some areas to balance the colors and composition after I took some of the tape off. Taking all the tape off was indeed a magical moment as the painting appeared. Despite my careful taping and sealing using matte medium I still had to touch up some areas where paint or gesso had leaked under the tape. Saying that though, I really enjoyed working on this painting - I learnt a lot about how difficult seemingly simple things can be. It also felt meditative to work on such a carefully planned piece. I will probably work like this again, although perhaps not so large or so complex. If I did I would only complete around four a year - that would be four VERY expensive paintings a year. And would be a nightmare to live with.
I love this painting and something about working this way appealed to me - I just have to find out exactly what. Every class I have taken at Glassell has pushed me to try something I would not otherwise have done - a technique, a genre, a subject - sorting out the personal wheat from the chaff is my ongoing homework.