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I've been thinking about the advice to young artists to never try and save money by using housepaint. It's not formulated to last hundreds of years and will inevitably harden, chip peel and crack.

Marion Boddy-Evans asks "Then again, do you want to be mentioned in history books as a bad example, like Turner is when it comes to the use of pigments that fade?"


well, what if the answer is yes?

There's a bunch of people called the Long Now Foundation.


They do things like build clocks designed to keep ticking for 10,000 years as a kind of antidote to the throw-away doomsday-clock society that we live in.

What if by using a mixed media method we could create paintings that evolved and unfolded their narrative not merely in two dimensions but also in the dimension of time.

Here's an example.

I sketched up this fellow in inkscape. He was meant to be a self portrait, but for now let's call him Dorian.

I imagine that if I had the skill, I'd paint or trace the black portions of the portrait in proper artists paints designed to last 100 years. I'd use correct technique, and gusso for texture and glaze for rich glossy blacks.

The white areas are unprimed bare canvas.

Next comes the house paint. It goes on the blank areas over an unevenly primed surface. Some areas are textured before priming with either stucco, plaster or automotive body filler. Incompatable paints might even be used. I'd stay away from milk paint or "instant antiquing" crackle finishes here because of the intent of the work.

The result is a painting that is almost entirely different shades and finishes of black.

There is, however, no overlap between the durable black paint and the perishable black paint. Maybe masking with very gentle tape might aid this process.

In itself, this could be an endpoint. My aim though is to document the creation process to make it repeatable, and make it decay in interesting ways over hundreds of years.

The patina of short lifespan paint will dry, peel and chip. It will flake off unevenly. Slowly, the weathered face of Dorian will emerge, even more grim and beaten than the day he was drawn.

There is a convention in manga that young and innocent characters have few lines on their face, while old or corrupted characters have a lot of face detail.

The chaos of decay will put more detail on his tortured visage than my unskilled hands ever could.

A more skilled artist could potentially layer different colours of perishable and nonperishable paint to make the narrative of a figurative painting change over time. I was thinking of maybe a blasted wasteland hiding under a houspaint surface that depicts a pristine pre-quake image of the Fukushima Reactor No.4.

Some things in life have consequences that far outlive those who make them. I think that temporal painting unites the ephemerial and eternal objects in a form of anticuration where the value of the story being told increases as the object itself decays.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
I really like this idea. I wonder if you could use an online animation to simulate the decaying paint in realtime, adding another layer of unreality to the process?
Mar. 22nd, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Awesome idea.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
That is a cool idea :-)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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