Avowal for a Friend

avowal: an open statement of affirmation; frank acknowledgment or admission.

24" x 12"

stretched canvas

acrylic paint, phosphorescent paint, coarse texture paste, heavy gel medium, paint marker, resin, varnish

This painting represents forward movement, hope, and beauty despite difficult circumstance. This was a gift for a friend, and it had to include elephants, color, and ideally a grid pattern. It needed to be bright, colorful, engaging on the other side of darkness.

I used these goals as an opportunity to create my first acrylic pour, which I wasn’t happy with, so it’s also my second acrylic pour. I had a rough idea of layout, but overall the initial layers were very experimental, so it took a while to show me where it was going. You can see the transitions in the progress shots.

The waves of light glow in the dark, which is as tricky as you think to paint, because it kind of has to be done in the dark, but not entirely.

I had completed this painting and was debating if it was really done and ready to ship or if it needed something… And then I acquired some resin, which I’ve wanted to experiment with for years. Resin is what adds a thick, extremely high-gloss sheen that almost looks like a layer of glass (you can see the light hitting it in certain areas – it makes it incredibly difficult to photograph without perfectly reflecting every lightbulb in the building). The pour had lost a lot of the color vibrancy after drying, and I knew a resin layer would add a lot of the depth back, but I was nervous about using a new, difficult process on a piece that was basically done. In the end, I wanted the high-sheen contrast with the black texture paste, so I took the plunge and did it. There was also an added thought about how all of life is an experiment, and it’s in keeping with the courage in this piece to take it somewhere new and unknown.

Application went great, but during the curing process the resin spread over part of the textured divide section. I caught this before it had solidified and removed as much as I could before it cured completely. With the exception of a few spots on the edges, the main body of the resin turned out really well (I have 3 cats in my studio… preventing cat hair from embedding itself in any paint medium is a MAJOR challenge). However, part of the resin was overlapping the textured divider, and my attempt at cleanup had left remnants on the sky area to the right.

To fix this, I added texture over the sky section (which actually improved it), and I had to repaint the glow in that area. I ground down the resin on the texture wall and added another layer of (finer) grit. Then I added the grid on top of the ground/roughed-up resin wall. I’d wanted to include that from the beginning, as a reference to dimensionality, permeability and the unknown, so I’m happy it ended up in the final piece, even if it wasn’t the way I thought it would be.

What was interesting is that right after I attempted to fix the flooded resin, I realized that flooding was a more accurate representation of what I was going for. The color on the left is beauty, hope, something more… and it flooded into the darkness, breaking through this barrier that was preventing the seeing of something better in the future. I removed it before I realized that, but I left a window. The painting itself is a window. Click here to read my essay about this epiphany.

Overall I’m really happy with how this turned out and I’ll miss seeing it in my studio, but I’m happy it’s been safely delivered to the intended recipient and will get to brighten the home of someone I care about.

Avowal for a Friend mixed media painting by Sarah M. Schumacher