Experiment #4: Mosaics with acrylics on canvas?

Making a pure mosaic was… exhausting. Was it because it was so time consuming? Was it because it was my first time ever and the fear of failure was gnawing away at me even as I worked? Was it because work isn’t work when you are doing what you love, and what I love is painting? All these questions rose restlessly in my head when I worked on the piece “I capture the desert”.

At the end of that artwork I did feel a sense of triumph. I had trudged my way to completion and even though the piece was not what I had imagined it to be, I still felt it captured my impressions of Jeddah in a unique sort of way. And yet, the restlessness. So I spent some time reflecting and I concluded that I love the idea of mosaics, and yet I don’t believe I can leave painting behind. So what to do?

Sometimes when I feel a wave of artist’s block coming on I find exploration is a good way to let the mind roam freely onwards to new ideas. So I explored. Thanks to this small digital world, I didn’t have to necessarily head out of the house in order to do so. I explored on the vast internet and the exploration led me to three magical words: Silicone, butane, cells.

Did you know that when acrylic paint is combined with some form of silicone it can form cells? That the cellular effect can be enhanced when a butane torch is used over the canvas? That these cells are a less controllable version of a mosaic! I didn’t, and I was excited to discover it.

Thus began this series of pouring paint experiments, posted here in order. I made canvas upon canvas and I made mistake upon mistake. I used all types of silicone and settled on my favorite, dimethicone. Here are all the videos I recorded. I like recording my work because playing it back over gives me an opportunity for better reflection from a totally different perspective.

Questions I am left with at the end of all this experimentation:

  1. How do I combine mosaics with acrylics? Is that even possible?

  2. Imagine a painted canvas with a sculpture sprouting from it. A 2-D abstract converted into 3-D. Like life springing out of the pages of a book. But canvas can’t hold the weight of a sculpture covered in mosaic tiles, so now what?

  3. Am I comfortable with the level of abstraction here? There is simply no way to control the flow of the paint so is it not possible to give more shape to it?

  4. What if I outline an image on the canvas and try to get the paint to steer into that image while covering the rest of the canvas in black/white? Like a negative space painting. Would that defy the very nature of pouring paint?

  5. What if I pour paint over a canvas, let it dry thoroughly and then paint an image over it? I will have to overcome the fear of irrevocably losing what I have already painted in order to get myself to paint something over the abstract colors.

Let’s see where the next experiment takes me.

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