Le Donut

Acrylic on canvas. 8" × 10" February 12, 2017

Acrylic on canvas.

8" × 10"

February 12, 2017

I was out running errands back in October. I tried to be clever getting out of the Safeway parking lot and ended up turned around sideways. Then I saw the beacon of glowing hope, the “OPEN” sign in the window of Le Donut.

I pulled over, parked, and stood in the back half of the Safeway parking lot taking pictures of a donut shop. Anyone who saw me must have thought “oh no, not another Seattle hipster looking for something authentic“ — that or just “weirdo”.

I love little restaurants like these. If I still lived in Charlotte, NC I’m sure I’d have done at least one series of Waffle House photos or paintings. These places have stories.

Process

I started with a rough drawing on the canvas with pencil. I seal the pencil lines under a layer of clear acrylic medium, applied with a knife. This prevents the pencil from blending into the paint and altering the colors. From there I worked top-to-center and bottom-to-center, painting sky and street, converging on the open sign in the central window.

I jumped right into this painting, forgetting my typical under-painting of transparent red or green. I don’t think it hurt the final product, but I miss it. The little hints of color that pop through create depth and visual interest. The under-painting can lend a color-cast to an image. If the light from the sky gives everything a blue tint (for example) starting with a blue canvas will make that easier to achieve. Any place the paint is a bit transparent will show blue underneath. This is how subtle grey-green skin tones are created in those paintings of rich dead people you see at the museum. The underpainting shows through the transparent skin tones on top.

One feature of working in acrylic is that painter’s tape becomes a viable artistic tool. To get a perfect line or a crisp edge I will tape off the shape I want then apply clear acrylic medium over the edges of the tape. This prevents any paint from seeping under the tape, between the threads of the canvas. A quick blast from the hair dryer seals the seam. Paint on top, remove the tape, and you have a perfect straight line. If you are very careful with a razor, curves and circles are possible too.

Michael Barrett

Tacoma, WA 98402