I had drawn all of my life, but the traditional charcoal, pencils and pens no longer worked for me. I needed to find a way of drawing that left a raised line that could be felt with the fingertips rather than being seen with the eyes. After much experimenting and failure I found that by using a matte fabric paint I could draw fine lines that were permanently raised and that dried very quickly – almost instantly when hit with a heat gun. The method is very straight forward, but does require patience. I also can use a Paasche pen to create very thin lines. The drawings often resemble topographic maps to the sighted because I don’t just draw the form of the subject that I am going to paint the way that a sighted artist would. I also indicate where areas of shading will go, where shadows will fall, where colors will blend, highlights and dark points, and anything else that I will need to know or help to orient my way around the canvas.
The drawing serves as my map of the composition and it is from this that I know exactly where the paint needs to go.
My use of raised lines took me a long ways, but it was limited in that it left raised lines, albeit it very thin lines, all across the painting surface. This caused problems when executing techniques like glazing or doing a wash. Also when it came to other mediums like water color and gouache the raised lines were a huge hindrance. The solution was to do the raised line drawing on a separate piece of paper or canvas. I could then put whatever I wanted the painting to be on over the paper, but by pressing lightly down I could still feel the lines beneath the surface. On surfaces that were too thick to be felt through, like wood or thick canvas, I would instead make the drawing on a very light but durable piece of paper that could be laid over where the actual painting was going to be made. I can fold back the paper so that I can feel the lines and then make the additions to the painting.
I can also draw using a thick oil paint, but thin enough so that by the last glazing to be applied the entire surface is flat. This takes much thought to make sure that the painting is correctly planned out and executed to achieve the desired result.
Why not let the lines show? I do sometimes; there are some compositions where having the lines of the drawing visibly rising through the paint adds to the piece. It is important as an artist though to have complete control over the surface. I wanted to be able to have a highly textured surface if that is what is required, but to also be able to create a painting that is smooth as glass.
This is the original method that I developed to distinguish colors, and is still the most precise method that I use. It allows for complete color control for all hues, tones, and values. The process relies on the unique properties inherent in oil paint because it is made from different substances. Because each hue is formed from different materials they naturally have a different ‘feel’ to them. This difference in texture and viscosity allows a particular color to be known by touch alone. For example: in the brand of paints that I use Titanium White is thick with a texture resembling toothpaste. Ivory Black is much runnier and flows easily over the fingertips. If I needed a grey that was halfway in between these two then I would simply mix a paint that was twice as thick as the Black or half as thick as the white. Oil paints also have a variety of mediums and additives that can be added to the paints to accentuate the different properties of the paints. This is necessary when mixing paints that have a similar texture to them, so that one can be altered by thickening or thinning it.
I use this method when dealing with paints that use a common base for every hue. Paints like acrylics, watercolors, and gouaches start with basically the same substance and then colorant is added. A sighted artist has no trouble telling the colors apart, but for me all of these paints feel the same no matter the color. When using this type of paint I use a proportional system that works much in the same way that a recipe does for cooking. If I need a grey that is halfway in between white and black in this system then I simply measure exactly 50% white and 50% black and I end up with the color that I need.
While I prefer the Textural Method because it allows me more precise control, the color is literally at my fingertips, the proportional method allows me to push into other media and to allow for greater creativity when it comes to composition.
Resin painting is an ancient technique whose use dates back over 2000 years in Asia. It is an extremely temperamental medium that allows for no mistakes, but its ability to deliver unrivaled clarity and color not to mention its longevity makes this liquid medium extremely exciting to me. My study of resin techniques has itself been an evolution that has been years in the making. The techniques that I developed that allow me to paint in media such as gouache, acrylic, and watercolor were done so with the ultimate goal of one day working in resin. Techniques that allowed a person to paint without sight in these mediums did not exist, and therefore had to be developed. Every step along the way taught lessons such as alternate raised line drawing methods, mixing of raw pigments, new color mixing methods, and much more. In my journey to work in resin I had to push far beyond the original techniques that I had developed to work in oils, all the while never knowing if in the end all of the new knowledge and techniques would ever coalesce into a workable medium for me.
The end result has proven to be far beyond my wildest hopes or expectations. The use of resin has allowed me to bridge the gaps between different media, and pull them together in a way that removes all barriers. The extreme control of hue that I have with oil paint can be coupled with the fineness of line that I have developed with gouache and watercolor, and then accentuated with the flowing rich colors that resin can provide. It is particularly exciting for me to be achieving this very modern style of painting through the use of such an ancient medium. I feel a strong sense of history that is an inherent part of this medium, which guides the way as I push into the future. Every day I spend in the studio is a day of celebration for me; I think the Resin paintings are carrying this message loud and clear.