Artist Spent a Decade Painting Fifteen Portraits of Migrant Workers

Don CoenDon Coen: Well, there are fifteen paintings. They’re seven-by-ten feet, except there are two of them that are seven-foot square. They’re airbrushed acrylic, sixty layers of paint. Now, I say sixty layers of paint, but there are some areas where there is no paint. I don’t use black or white paint, and so my paintings are very transparent. But I slowly build up layer over layer over layer, and I gesso the canvas seven times so I have a beautiful, white surface. So where I want a real light color or just a surface left white, it’s just the white of the canvas that you see.

Many years ago, I used to do a lot of water, and I think that’s why I paint transparent the way I do. But I also love to use pencil as a texture in my paintings, and so I have carried that over and used that in these paintings.

For many years, I painted non-objective. Some of my images were triggered by 2001: A Space Odyssey. I spent all those years painting non-objective, where you only deal with color, shape, texture, form, pattern, and you don’t have an image, and so I learned to think about painting that way. There is absolutely no way that I would ever be able to do paintings that are “realistic” if I hadn’t spent all those years painting non-objective, because I learned just to look at the image and be able to interpret the image from that.

 

Source: Westword.com

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