Nocturne - 12" x 12" acrylics on wood panel (sold)
At some point in the past year I was busy messing about with black substrates, which led to testing different varnish finishes (matte, satin & gloss) on dark paint. The results, while straight forward enough, piqued my curiousity. What happens when you use all three types of varnish on the same black surface, side by each?
The answer is: a fascinating visual effect.
Beside the swatches of gloss, semi gloss and matte varnish on my sample of black acrylic paint, I'd also added a patch of Golden's Micaceous Iron Oxide (finely ground mica suspended in a clear polymer). Hello Texture!
It was from this experiment of black with black with black that the painting, Nocturne, was born. What interested me is how the piece changes with the light and when your viewpoint does. Looking at it straight on you see just curving lines on a dark panel. Depending upon the source of illumination you might have to get very close to see even that. Things change when you step to the right or the left, shift your head up or down....as the differences between the matte, gloss and texture reveal themselves amongst the swirls of the design. Like the phosphene patterns that we 'see' dancing when we close our eyes.
I have no way to photograph the shifting tones in order to replicate what is to me so utterly cool about this piece. It's literally artwork that demands the viewer to interact with it, repeatedly...in order to understand why it even exists.
It's a process I have no intention of repeating any time soon, if for no other reason than the act of applying different types of varnish in tiny, sharply delineated areas on a surface that is one colour courts madness and eyestrain. Keeping track of 'this' black vs 'that' black so that at no time did two of the same meet was an additional frustration ....specially when matte acrylic goes on glossy. Yeah...mistakes happened which needed to be corrected. There were many 'argh' moments.
It was slow, exacting work applying the coats of paint and varnish....but it gave me a lot of time contemplate while pouring my thoughts and feelings into the piece. It's hard to explain how an artwork can guide the artist, but Nocturne was very much the master of me.
I'm proud of the result and immensely pleased that it has found the home it was meant to.