Like a shaggy dough

During the COVID-19 isolation, I’ve watched a lot of videos on how to make no-knead breads, soughdough breads, and flatbreads like focaccia and naan. Many of the videos mention this stage of dough called a “shaggy dough.”

In many ways, these paintings remind me of that kind of dough. In both the small 8×10 study and the larger canvas, I have used a surface that was painted and varnished before.

I used mineral spirits to chip into the varnished surface then painted it overall with Mars Brown and when I started the paintings, the new ground was still slightly wet and lifted quite easily in the process, depending especially upon the tip of the brush and how much it dug into the paint below.

As they say, lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice – that place being my easel with the same idea – and I am not certain I got the same energy into the larger painting I had in the smaller one. I do feel each has its pluses and minuses. The paint may take forever to dry (I have since discovered how to scrape most of the varnish off the reclaimed surface and now that’s it’s warm enough to be outside, I’m going to be doing a lot of scraping and reclaiming) but the scratches, brush marks and crackles are endlessly entertaining and give the painting a patina that is singular.