it’s about material – period

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.― Leonardo da Vinci

Last month Carolyn ( who worked out the Creature in Creature Man Nature ) gave me a prepared paper.  She preps a quality sheet of drawing paper on both sides and doesn’t necessarily frame the artwork though she does fix it. I  like how she attaches it right to the wall, with no glass. I experience the direct surface of a work on paper, including edges. Her materials are graphite and acrylic white, black and gray washes and gesso. I use egg tempera, casein, and work with color.

She gives me a small sheet and says – Here, this is for you to play with … it’s small and maybe you won’t think it so precious. You can experiment.  She’s coated both sides with 4 layers of moulding paste. The paper is thick, substantial and has an object-like quality to it. Each side feels slightly different.

Oh, it’s precious all right – I’m not wasting an inch of this. I paint both sides.

The first two works are cat anatomy studies. The same cat takes up the same space on either side of the sheet.


Above, the cat is painted in egg tempera. The yolk and pigment mixture I’ve made glides smoothly across the surface. I enjoy the feel and so play with / rework the design many (many) times.  I don’t feel it’s complete yet.

The cat below, the flip side of the same paper, is in casein.  It takes well to the bit of tooth on the surface. The paint doesn’t glide, it sits different. I do like the quality though. I’ll continue to work materials and composition.


I decide to prepare a few sheets myself.  I use a heavy Arches watercolor paper. I lay 4-5 coats of moulding paste on each side and at the last-minute I decide to collage in architectural drawings that I’ve collected.

I work on a bird (below), all the while considering what the other side might become. Mary ( the Nature in Creature Man Nature ) has invited me to take part in a group show at 515. These are sized for that exhibit, so maybe one will hang sooner rather than later.  I’ll have to come up with an interesting hanging system, that too appeals to me.


Creature Man Nature closed this weekend. It was a good run. We hope to find an exhibition venue outside of Arizona next.

5 thoughts on “it’s about material – period

  1. While I normally prep my paper with moulding paste or matte medium, I don’t do the layering on front and back, like Carolyn. I’ve enjoyed the feel and entire look. I have one more thing I want to try.
    And the fact that I want to hang it different…is challenge I like.
    How this will carry to my larger work…I don’t know yet…the experiment is fun.

    Thanks Ted.

  2. Your work is beautiful and amazing! I ran across it while searching for articles on casein this morning. I have a question for you: when you say “moulding paste” do you mean acrylic modeling paste or is it something else?

  3. Thank you for your fast reply. I just went to Golden website to look it up; sounds like an interesting ground to work on. And I like what you did with it.

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