30 Days of Unfurling - Day 23: It's All About the Base

Over the years, I've experimented with many different ways of approaching a blank canvas.

There was the drippy phase. The only problem was that I'd get paralysed by the beauty of the drips. I would struggle to cover the drips up yet the paint would be very thin and to me the canvas wouldn't feel finished.

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I started combining drips with loose marks but I still kept getting struck, not knowing how to make the painting look finished. While It would sometimes look good in a photograph, in real life it just didn't feel lush and vibrant.

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Then I discovered there was a simple solution. What if I started with a flat all-over colour? What if before I start doing those yummy drips and marks I built up a rich base? A good foundation. A solid ground. This has now become my favourite way to start a painting. It's so easy and such a great way to get over the fear of a blank canvas. All you do is grab a big brush, some paint and away you go. There's no need for perfection here because this layer is going to get covered up with more layers. All I try and do is get a fairly even coat all over the canvas. Sometimes I paint the whole canvas with one colour or as in the photo below I might mix a couple of colours together.

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Recently, my go-to product for this layer has been Derivan Matisse Background Paint. It's a coloured low-tooth gesso. Even though I use pre-gessoed canvases, I find adding this extra layer of primer really makes a difference. It's such a lovely surface to paint on and it's affordable too. This way you can save your more expensive paint for the final layers.

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Of course there is no right way to start a painting and it's only through experimenting that you discover what works for you. I am certainly not ruling out starting canvases in other ways. In-fact one day I'd like to try starting a canvas with a full layer of collage. But for now I am enjoying this way and that's good enough for me!

Back tomorrow Xx