I used to paint. Loved it. Acrylic on canvas, and velvet,  sometimes with the addition of marble dust or coffee grounds to give it body, texture and alter a surface that had too much in common with some of my childhood toys. Worked in oil pant on various surfaces. Gouache, on various substrate, including cardboard. And enamel. Man, I luuuuhved enamel! I used a sign painters fave, One Shot. Occasionally I used some old brands I’d find buried on back shelves in old family run hardware stores that gave deep discounts to get that crap off their books. Messy stuff and tricky to get clean colors when mixing but what a flow and surface. Used it on different substrate including wood, Masonite, and cardboard.

The above painting, “The Proffessor Tries Fishin'”, executed on primed Masonite was painted in the late ’80s with enamel paint. That stuff moved like nothing else. Dried kinda quick, got on everything, was a bloody mess to clean meaning the dependence on turpentine and other funky smelling shit. And, contained lead. Which if I understand it correctly, is what gave it that creamy, self leveling property. Oh, and I’d use my fingers to spread it around sometimes. Sometimes, more so than other times. If you’ve seen my drawings here and on other sites, you’ll know my hands get involved in my craft. You don’t have to look that closely.

Above are two close ups of the northern lights above our intrepid Proffessor. I lived in Alaska as a kid back in the late ’50s. I was too young to remember them oddly enough because I had distinct memories of the neighborhood, family events, getting shocked while playing around with an outlet, throwing a tantrum, or two. But no luminous sky curtains. That’s how Bob, my older brother by eight years, described them. These glowing, billowing curtains. I witnessed them once since leaving Alaska. Saw ’em one night returning to Chicago from it’s northern burbs after catering one night. They were very faint and glowed lightly at the tops of the distant silhouetted tree line miles to our north. I keep promising myself to visit some location, Iceland maybe, anywhere far enuff north in the appropriate season to really bask in their dazzle.

So my attempt above was from my head, Bob’s descriptions, and a couple National Geographic issues. But let’s return to the nature of the medium I chose to depict them, enamel. Opaque, many colors muted, likely as not to create mud when mixed. Hey, you manage best you can when you put the challenge before you. Sorry, I’m even less a writer than I am a painter. Just check out the surface of this delicious if not noxious medium. Gooey, smeary, viscous, it dries rapidly making it difficult to work back into it even when trying to paint wet into wet. And it has it’s own signature form of impasto. Even thin layers maintain an evident meniscus with each newly applied layer claiming brash dominance over it’s predecessors. And if applied thick enough, it would dry first on the skin and as the inner layers somehow mysteriously dried and lost volume, it would collapse and wither gradually over days to a wrinkled worm as if it had been slowly sucked dry of life juices by the spiders of time.

Above, close ups of our sportsman leaning in to haul Gawd knows what. Photographed in raking light, primary layers give up tell tale ridges as the painting is built goo wave by gooey wave. When working quickly as urged and commanded by the medium, I would under paint in one color, say burgundy, then cover that with a lighter layer and before the top layer sealed and congealed, I’d use the tip of the brush handle to scratch and draw thru to expose the color beneath as I have so done on the bow of the boat. This gave not only cool textures but lines much thinner than I could achieve with the pasty glue-like paint. They were hard to predict and control due to differing drying times relative to minute variances in thickness. That loss of absolute control is a stratagem I have embraced for most of my life as a practicing artist.

Alas, I had to let go the use of these unctuous and marvelous paints due to the health effects of their chemistry, although, it is my understanding that the lead has been removed.

Fishin’ With The Proffessor

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