I recently did a painting of the Bow River. It’s a quiet scene — mountains, a light sky, a rocky river bed. Like a lot of my other recent paintings, this one was strictly for practice, and it’s still on-going. I want to play around with a few different techniques, add more highlights to the middle ground trees, and play with colors a bit on the background trees.
The painting isn’t one I take too seriously, and I have to smile each time I look at it. This particular canvas, you see, has had quite an interesting history. It started with one of those weird mad scientist experiments. I’d had fun adding salt to the background of watercolor paintings, so why not try a similar technique for oil painting? Just for giggles I toned the canvas with acrylics and scattered a little salt over it. I let it dry for a long time, wondering what I might do with that rough, bumpy background. I should have taken a photo, but I didn’t.
When I attempted to use it for a landscape, I quickly discovered that putting salt on a canvas probably wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. I played around with a few colors, and chalked it up to experience. Again, I wish I’d taken a photo.
One day, I wanted to practice a few different techniques for brushstrokes, so I grabbed the unusable canvas and just had fun making marks:
Later, when I wanted to practice glazing and scumbling, I grabbed the same canvas. I couldn’t hurt it, so why not practice with it again?
A few days ago, I was learning about cropping and stretching elements from landscapes to create more interesting compositions. Working from a photograph of the Bow River, I took my well-salted canvas, painted over the sky, added the mountains, and turned the foreground into the start of a rocky river bed.
Here it is as Bow River:
You can still see the rough texture from the salt, and maybe that would be an interesting technique for abstract painting. For landscape painting… not so much. It does make me wonder, though, how many times I can use and re-use old canvases.
It’s actually been quite fun to paint and re-paint this canvas, and except for lots of bumps, it doesn’t look too bad right now. It’s definitely worth keeping around. I have lots more practice I can do with it.