Painting On The Backside
by Daric Gill
Depending on whether or not you follow my art, you may know that I use reclaimed materials in almost every body of artwork I make. If you’re new to my work you can see many examples of this here. Several of my recent artworks have been painted on planks of 100+ yr old reclaimed barn shelving. During its former life, one side of the shelving was protected from the elements with a thick grayish-white paint. The other side was left a rich wood grain that darkened over time from the barn atmosphere. To clean away some of the residue that may have collected over the years, I had to sand down both sides of the wood. Each time I cleaned off the surface residue on the backside, I wondered how I’d use this aged surface in the final piece. Absolute: Earnest is the result.
[Full Image & Process Gallery Below Article]
Absolute: Earnest depicts a fall leaf, crimson in color, curling around brightly red stitches of string. These strings literally mount the crisping leaf to distressed wood. Under the leaf there is a plank of vertical wood with more wood grain showing than paint. Most of the piece is centered in a symmetrical pattern, which is common for this series. In defiance, the red strings are asymmetrically binding and not in parallel form.
The frame was carefully constructed from the same 2-toned barn wood. A fresh warm oak grain frames out the painting from the front view, while the aged gray finish lends character and history to the sides. As always the back of the piece is stamped with corresponding serial numbers that catalogue the work and frame.
This particular piece of wood had laminations that were in perfect proportions for my painting. As I sanded away the top layer, a nice vertical stripe (eye-candy to me) formed. I accentuated the grain by hand-sanding away more along that vertical grain. Once this rectilinear shape was fully-formed, I ran the panel through the table saw so that there was equal portions of geometry on both sides. Of course, as soon as this naturally forming wood grain appeared I was eager to exploit it in the painting.
I’ve found that one of the best advantages to wood over traditional canvas, aside from its warmth of inherent color, is that each piece has a very unique fingerprint of wood grain. This is a great example of how I allow earned character in the wood to control some of the compositional choices. It becomes important to consider what the wood can lend to the piece as opposed to assert dominance over it. Matching the symmetrical lines of the wood with more irregular geometry in the painting was employed as a thematic metaphor and it shows up quite often in this series. I believe it alters the look and emotion of the object it interacts with.
Check out the image gallery below to see the making of this piece.