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Building An Image

Art Materials
Studio Materials Pencils, Pens, Chopsticks, Brushes and Fluid Acrylics

I have never been an artist that works in one method and with one medium. For years I grappled with this, thinking it was an inadequacy. I now realize, it is my strength and that the reality is, very rarely artists work in a 1 to 1 method. I think being able to be flexible and open while working is really important, while still being consistent and thorough in one’s investigations. I refer casually to this logic as my framework – this includes the ideas, materials and methods I use to push my studio practice. Below, I will walk you through how my framework starts and ends with one specific image.

Art Methods

Stage 1. The Drawing – Pen on Paper

For me, drawing provides the most solid foundation for my paintings and my thinking. Constantly practicing being attentive to what interests me and drawing from both life and from memory keep me on my toes and allow me to trust moving through an image with either a pen or a brush. Drawing is a mainstay in my framework as an artist.

Art Materials

Studio Materials
Pencils, Pens, Chopsticks, Brushes and Fluid Acrylics

Once I feel ready to use a mark or a drawing as a departure point, I prime my canvas and while the paint is still wet, I carve into the gesso with a pencil or a chopstick to create a continuous line drawing or a contour drawing from memory. This first mark sets the stage for me and allows me information to work from without the feeling I need to replicate drawings.

Contemporary Art Education

Stencils / Air Brush Gun

Then, depending on how the under drawing looks, I will use a series of stencil and airbrush layers to hide or confused the first move. Painting for me is like a series of strategic moves that I can’t actually always remember – it’s reactionary and individual for each painting.

Catherine Haggarty One River School

The Runner – Lines Carves in by Chopsticks, Stencil Silhouette and Airbrush

Using an airbrush gun offers a beautiful dissipation of color and alludes to atmosphere and movement without actually using a paintbrush. I like this lack of control juxtaposed with my hand that has marked the initial drawing. Materials are in important part of one’s framework and for me, it has been really beneficial to experiment and be open to tools such as airbrush.

One River School Art Education Contemporary

The Runner – 16×20 inches, Fluid Acrylic on Canvas / 2017
(Finished Image)

I’ve created a framework that allows me several methods of drawing and painting and I’ve given myself full permission to treat each image and painting as it’s own problem with it’s own solution within this framework. This freedom makes me continue to be curious about what I can do and how I can solve my initial gestures on the canvas. Solving a painting is completely abstract – there is no formula, but if you allow yourself the ability to be flexible while trusting your instincts you’ll always be chasing your painting as you make it I encourage you to build your framework with what you need and continue to set your own specific studio prompts and parameters.