Blog: Expanding and Exploring: New Marks, New Materials, New Ideas, New Series

Christine Alfery

Posted on May 31 2020

Her Tutu by Christine Alfery

Featured image: The Scale – The Machine 

This is one of the early works from my new series Nature vs. Fabrication. This series will explore the dichotomy of natural creation vs. man-made. Although they are in contrast, you can't have one without the other. Balance is the key. 

With the start of a new series comes exploration – new materials, new markings, new tools, new techniques, new concepts. In this work I used a new base when creating – rather than my usual paper or canvas, I used clay board.

 Clay board is a panel of wood like Masonite with a kaolin clay ground formula on the surface. It is sanded to an ultra-smooth finish so the colors remain true and brilliant. It is so smooth that the paint slides off when first applied so the first layer of paint is brilliant yet very transparent. 

As each layer of paint is applied some of the colors become more intense. The absorbency of the board is fun to work with – it allows for multiple media to be used at the same time. For example I used oil pastels on this piece along with my usual water-based paint.  I enjoyed smudging the oil based pastels – smearing them to let the colors of paint beneath shine through.

I created different marks in this work as I thought about how I want my machines to be represented – in contrast to the natural. As I transition from a series of flowers to this new series of machines my mind is full of ideas about contrasts and yet how both machines are nature are created and create. The contrast and differences are so big, and they are so interrelated.

I try to distinguish between the two - fabrication and machines are hard edged and can be controlled governed. Nature is softer and, for the most part, is uncontrolled and quite chaotic and fluid. The clay board is a perfect surface to paint on as I think about these two very different ideas. 

I had two pieces of clay board in my store room. I had been wanting to paint on them for some time now – I finally decided it was time to explore, so I did. I started with a smaller board but I found that the marks were tighter and more controlled. I was searching for a way to expand my marks beyond the confines of the smaller board so I created this larger work. The larger size of the board made all the difference as I begin to expand my new marks, expand my new ideas, expand into a new series.

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