Sharing The Evolution of a Plastic Space Abstract Painting

The first step with any painting is to begin with an idea. It is much easier for me to concentrate in the mode of a series. In this case, it is a part of my Plastic Space abstract Maruvian Mask series. It focuses on the positive masks from around the world. I choose to call them Maruvian masks because I have taken artistic license to create abstracted images from real ancient masks that have influenced me with their unique designs. This painting is influenced by the masks from Africa, China, and Polynesia all reflecting power and strength. This is why I have named it Maruvian Power Masks.

Now that I have the idea, I must do the research to find the mask designs that I want to incorporate into this painting, which may take two days to a month. I begin with a graphite sketch and work it until it has balance and interest in the shading from dark to light. Some sketches sit around for maybe a day or can be years before it strikes me to work it up for a painting. When the sketch has reached the point where I am excited and ready to paint, I will transfer it to a prepared canvas using light pencil lines. I used to stretch my own canvas but now with age and old “Arthur I. Tis” in my hands, I find it too painful to do this anymore, so I purchase a pre-stretched canvas. I prepare the canvas by using a spatula and applying texture paste over the surface and after this dries, I gesso over the whole canvas and let it dry again. This can take a day unless I push it with a hair dryer to speed things up.

Now I get to play with the color choices in the application of the painting. I don’t like to put a color wash over the whole canvas as tradition dictates. Some colors are pure with the white background and I prefer to do this to get more vibrant colors in my paintings. Once a person said my colors seemed to glow because of this technique. Some areas do get a wash if I already know the color choice such as the wood, textile and metal tones.

Once the colors have been established, I can begin the really fun part of working out the detail of the shapes and designs. When most of the painting is done, I let this set for around 2-4 days for the oils to harden a bit. Bright colors take longer to set and for the shading I want to do, I must let them set long enough so they won’t smear when shading. This is where a lot of artists like Acrylic paints are happy because that paint sets in hours. I have used acrylics before but return to oils because, to me, they are more forgiving and give me more time to work the media. There is an element of sensual touch to shading with oils that gives me more natural depth to the shapes.

Once the shading is complete, I let the painting stand for a week or so to make sure that each time I look at it, I am satisfied with the composition and nothing stands out to bother my vision. If it does, the painting is not finished and I have to figure out what has to be fixed. Once all is fixed, the painting is signed and complete. I present to you Maruvian Power Masks; 30″ x 40″ Oil on canvas, first painting of 2018.


Marcella is a visual artist that made a leap of faith in 1995 and took an early retirement from a successful elementary teaching career of 27 years. She and her husband moved from California to the Atlanta area to continue as a full time artist. She has a formal education in the arts, and has been a creative visual artist for over 40 years.

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