Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Home again. I've unloaded everything from the back of my truck. I've shopped for enough food for several days and I've done my laundry. I've left the phone off the hook.I have a lot to catch up on. I am tracking a couple of paintings shipped from the U.S. and Japan; I acted as the (unpaid) intermediary for their sales so I want to ensure their quick, safe delivery to their new owners. I have do a final edit on a short photo essay for Griffith REVIEW. And I'm in the middle of study drawings for no less than three new Dangerous Career Babes commissions, including one inspired by the PORNO show – The Porn Star (Self-Portrait). Dangerous Career Babes has been, by far, my most successful (and most expensive) series of paintings. They've also been my most troublesome. I originally planned them as oil-on-canvas works, 2.0m by 1.7m, but despite a subtstantial investment in the highest quality materials, I was disappointed by how flat and lifeless the large areas of colour looked compared to those of even my earliest works in enamel-on-board – especially once they'd dried. So I began repainting them all in enamel on larger, custom-built timber frames.Enamel's qualities have spoiled me, I guess. But then the advertising billboard effect of this series – which, after all, underscores its consumer-critical, super-feminist concept – is lost unless the surface of the individual paintings is as glossy, flawless and glistening as the paint job on a new Ferrari.The trouble is, working with enamel takes a terrible toll on my health, no matter what I do to protect myself. I've had to evolve an almost industrial process which exposes me to its carcinogenic fumes only for brief periods. I transfer the ink-drawn image to the smooth, white gesso surface of the timber frame. Then, skilled assistants begin applying multiple coats to build up the large blocks of glossy colour. I return to execute the precise outlining and other details (writing, fine brush work, facial expressions and so on) before handing back to my assistants for finishing touch-ups and cleaning. The final paintings look vibrant and stunning – and suddenly, at last, the point of the series is abundantly clear.