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THE MAKING OF: Keep These in Mind (a triptych)

Back in November I made a post about how I frequently thrift my supplies – buying up cheap paintings that've been cast aside at Saver's, or Goodwill, and re-stretching them with new canvas or simply painting over the old ones. 

This is exactly what I've done with a few of my most recent pieces including Keep These in Mind (a triptych)Shadow Puppets in the Playroom, and some other works still in progress.  

  TOP : the three canvases used in  Keep These in Mind (a triptych)  as they looked when I bought them from Saver's for ninety-nine cents each.    BOTTOM : waiting for the primer to dry - the first step in creating the finished work. 

TOP: the three canvases used in Keep These in Mind (a triptych) as they looked when I bought them from Saver's for ninety-nine cents each. 

BOTTOM: waiting for the primer to dry - the first step in creating the finished work. 

Eventually, after a few months of work, those salvaged canvases grew more and more developed until they grew into the painting below.  

The finished piece Keep These in Mind (a triptych), 2016.  

The piece Keep These in Mind (a triptych), deals with more of the same elements I've been exploring in recent work, in particular, reflecting on my childhood growing up on the beach, but also dealing with more specific moments of nostalgia. There is also a new element that I haven't yet explored in depth, and that is the question of my own spirituality. I wanted there to be moments of light and lifting, but also something tumultuous beneath the surface.

As always, there are notes and text embedded within the paint layers, and if you can read them, they give the greatest insight into what I was thinking during the moments the paintings were executed. In the first canvas, most legibly, dead-center, it reads "that this is your home." I've been very keen on fractions of sentences lately; there's an honest beauty in a fragment that I really connect with and love to utilize in my paintings and poetry. It sets the tone for the viewer early on, and informs them of a context with which to view the rest of the piece. The middle piece read something about how you are a precise number of breaths or heartbeats, and acts almost as a memento mori, working with the third and final piece which along one of the edges reads "some higher being," or something like that.

Below, you can find some shots as the work progressed.  

 The first pass of drawing and gesso. I tend to work with pastels and primers in my first layers, and build up what the painting will look like long before any oil hits the canvas. 

The first pass of drawing and gesso. I tend to work with pastels and primers in my first layers, and build up what the painting will look like long before any oil hits the canvas. 

 Critiquing with my studio buddy, Miles, after the first few passes of oil paint.  

Critiquing with my studio buddy, Miles, after the first few passes of oil paint.  

 Here the work hangs in progress from tacks pushed into a panel; I would later remove them to start a self portrait on that board.  

Here the work hangs in progress from tacks pushed into a panel; I would later remove them to start a self portrait on that board.  

 Many mornings look like this: a black coffee and a full palette. By now, the piece is nearly finished. This photo was taken during the last session I spent working with these little guys. 

Many mornings look like this: a black coffee and a full palette. By now, the piece is nearly finished. This photo was taken during the last session I spent working with these little guys. 

Most of these photos were originally posted to my Instagram page, so if you'd like to follow my day-to-day in life and in the studio, you can find me @akell24 - just sort through the copious pictures of my cats ;) 

 

I've learned a great deal through creating this triptych. I think it's the first triptych I've worked on since art school (and certainly the first successful one ever), and I really enjoyed using multiple canvases to make an image. It also was helpful and exciting to be working on these little guys at the same time as a much larger piece called Take the Sky With You, which I painted as a surprise for my mother (here's hoping she doesn't read my blog!). That piece is 40" x 60" and I've struggled to complete it since 2014. I'm happy to say that these smaller scale paintings informed how I wanted to approach putting the paint on that much larger canvas, and that the piece is finally finished. I'm hoping it'll be dry enough to transport by the next time I go home, but I mix clove oil in with my paints when they're on the palette, so who knows! 

 

_AKK

 

Ali Keller1 Comment