Saturday, November 24, 2012

Anxious Surface: Process of Discovery

 A bit of background. I had just completed the painting you see just below in which there were several striped neutral patterns of acrylic transfer which I played against some consciously made drips, forming an informal grid, as you can see here:

I thought it would be interesting if I created a more deliberate and organized grid in my next, larger painting.  I found some very interesting emotions were coming into play, so I have recorded the process of discovery here.

It turns out that I chose certain formal means in an arbitrary way which it turned out reflected certain areas of anxiety in my life right now. This created a rather nervous counterpoint.

The painting.

States 1-4.

1. Underpainting with Napthol Red. 
2. Scumbling with Titanium and Zinc White, allowing some red to show through.
3. Rotated painting. Dripped paint from all four edges primarily red, yellow, red and green.
4. Some scraped, scumbled overpainting with Titanium and Zinc White.

State 5. 

Direct acrylic transfer.

State 6.

Added some strokes to unify and link the outlines of the transferred forms.  Note all the horizontals and verticals made with the drips.  There's almost a figure emerging, but there's a very frenetic anxiety that seems to run through it:

I was now being pulled in two different directions.  On the one hand the jittery quality was interesting.  I didn't want to lose that.  On the other hand it seemed to be flying apart.  Can I prevent it from truly flying apart, but still make it still look as if it is flying apart, and without completely taming that energy?  If that even makes sense....

State 7.

Clarified by adding more value transitions.  Kicked up the red and pink tints:


State 8.

Decided the suggestion of a figure was too literal. Rotated. This created a horizontal passage through the middle of the painting:

State 9.

Rotated again.  This will be the final orientation:

State 10.

At this point added some warm glazes of gloss medium with a little Indian Yellow Hue:

State 11.

Added definition to a number of areas, and added some more pink back in:

 State 12.

Final state.

Sometimes you try to avoid losing any particular quality that a painting has.  Inevitably some interesting qualities have to be removed to make way for others. But working is about choices.  

I tried to avoid making the whole too harmonious, and keep it alive rather than force it too hard into my natural tendency which is to make everything flow together.  On the other hand the jitteriness is a secondary counterpoint now, and more has a sense of a worried, aging skin within the painting as a whole.  I like to think I sustained the punch of the earlier states, but have something more as well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Putting Together a Simple Floater Frame

A floater frame is a painting frame that has a recessed inner part, usually painted black around the inside of the frame.  This margin allows the painting to appear to "float" inside its frame.  It also allows the edges of a gallery wrap canvas to show.

Generally speaking, I use commercial floater frames, and I prefer the Illusions frames from Jerry's Artarama.  However, I have a number of canvases I have in dimensions that are not available.

I therefore decided to try a simple test using a really simple approach, simpler than the ones that I had seen.  The designs I had seen seemed to be beyond my sketchy carpentry skills.

As a test I selected a small 16" X 20" gallery wrap canvas with 3/4" depth.  You can get this size, but it seemed like something that would be easier for an experiment.

To make the frame, I chose a length of inexpensive 1" X 1" milled angle and an inexpensive  1" X 1/4" thick strip.  Gluing the two together makes a frame that is 1" deep on the outside and 3/4"depth on the inside.

Now normally you have to use more pieces, but I realized that if the inside of the frame was a little large--and here is the tricky part--the painting were fastened to the back lined up just right, you could make a floater frame with just two parts.  There's a trick, using tape.

Now some people might choose to cut first and paint the black last, or paint the black first, it's up to you.  I'd advise using the method you think you are the least likely to mess up.

I put painters tape on the top edge and then did a coat using Liquitex clear gesso right up to the edge.  I then did a second coat mixing acrylic black into the clear gesso and painted almost up to the edge, and then finished the edge with a small brush.

Since I am leaving the wood frame unfinished, I can sand away any mess ups, as long as they are not too bad.  This produced excellent results as the black was very matte and totally nonreflective.  It looks like a hole, which is what you want.  You could also use black gesso, or a very flat black paint.  (Don't use gloss.)

I combined pairs of those little wood wedges that you get with prestretched canvases glued together as guides.  Using a hand saw with a fine tooth and a mitre box, I cut out the four sides, using the width of the guide for the extra amount of space to leave around the painting.  (Note if you are bad at math, the frame must be the dimension of the painting plus twice the size of the guide.

I used a clamp to glue and join two sides at a time.

I then placed the painting face up inside the frame, and placed guides around the painting to make sure it is correctly centered.  I then fastened it in temporarily into position with non-stick  painter's tape. I then removed the guides.

Please note it is your responsibility to make sure your painting is dry and will not stick to the tape when you remove it.  (This is a dry acrylic painting protected with a couple of layers of Soluvar varnish.)

The painting, "Oceana Pacifica", face up secured with tape.  Don't try to skimp on tape, especially if you are securing a large piece!

Properly positioning the piece and making it secure is the secret to not having to do fancier carpentry.

Here you see the piece flipped over on a soft approximately clean carpet.  
In the background, you can see the corner of a commercially prepared floater frame.

Screw in, preferably using dogleg brackets.  (These are hard to come by, but there were some extras in the frame kits I have bought.) Add a wire to hang it.  Remove the tape.
(Did you put the wire on the correct (top) side? Good.)

The finished piece.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eyeball Music: Art exhibit of abstract paintings by Ed Smiley

November 16, 2012 Here's some photos at my recent art event at...

Art Revór
Art Revór brings together artists and art enthusiasts to celebrate art by hosting events in a friendly, social atmosphere. At Art Revór events you can meet the artists, browse the gallery walls, indulge in light refreshments, and shop for art. 

You can see good quality images of the paintings in the show, or attend the show virtually by looking at installation views.

Art Revór is an alternative space, and Amy Estrada has done a remarkable job transforming it to show my work.

Guest book with view inside. Note the candles.

Installation view showing (left to right) "Ooooo Baby", "All To Jagged Emperor of the Alley", and "XOX".

Installation view. Hanging partition with "Sun-illumined Lantern Held In Midnight by the Master of the Show"

Installation view. With view of "Rose Trancescape" and into second room from main room.

Installation view, second room. Four panels of the "Blood Music" series, and "Davy Jones' Liquor"

Installation view, second room. (Left to right.) "Even thought You Listen to the Dark Music" and "Yes I Will Yes"

Installation view, second room. "World Made Flesh" 

Installation view, second room. "Davy Jones' Liquor"

"Blood Music" series.

Installation view. Hanging partition with "Calypso's Magic Show" 

Installation view. "XOX" (left). 

Viewing "Calypso's Magic Show"

Viewing "Calypso's Magic Show"

Viewing "Sun-illumined Lantern Held In Midnight by the Master of the Show"

Amy with her new painting, "Rose Trancescape"... ...and a very large cat.

Here's the Good Times listing:

Eyeball Music: Art exhibit of abstract paintings by Ed Smiley | Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My New Art Event

Latest of my shows:

Eyeball Music
Art Event

Event: Friday November 16 5-9 PM
Phone(831) 227-4420
Art Revór invites you to Eyeball Music, a lively art event featuring abstract paintings by Ed Smiley.

Friday, November 16th, 2012


Downtown Santa Cruz
216 Myrtle Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Plenty of free parking. Major credit cards accepted.

The Facebook event is at

Here's some of the pieces in the show.