I ordered an airbrush a few days ago. I already have an industrial air compressor, all I have to do is (a) put up with the noise of the compressor (easy – turn the stereo WAY up), and (b) dry and filter the air before it comes to the brush.
And learn to paint with it.
When I was a kid and I saw what you could do with an air brush, I was floored. This was exciting (we are, after all, talking eight or nine years old). You could paint a mural! On a car! That was probably part of why I wasn’t supplied with one at that time. I’m sure my mom could just see the mural painted on her Volvo 1800e sports car. And… She could have been right.
In UCLA art school the idea of using an air brush was sacrilege. They were expensive. They were tools of lesser artists (cough… ((bull)shit) cough…).
I rented a house in Los Angeles, one of my roommates was a commercial graphic artist. He made some fantastic images. He did it effortlessly. He made art. The same art. Over and over and over, logo after logo, advertisement and layout after layout. He used an airbrush and the association stayed in my mind. I never looked at it again until recently.
I had taken some photographs in the Hirshhorn museum in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian. One of them was Tom Wesselmann’s Bedroom No. 38.
This painting was on a wall at the top of the stairs, as you ascended it appeared. The painting is 87″ x 94″, so the impact is huge, visually stunning. I love subtle erotic art. Suggesting, leaving the rest of the scene to the imagination is effective. I took a shot or three of the painting, and I’m sure I read the placard, and saw the artist’s name and lost memory of it. I found that image a few weeks ago and looked up the painting on the Hirshhorn’s website.
I’m still floored by it. I have a painting I started of a redhead nude figure, her hair is just brilliant, the skin radiant, at least in the vision of the painting I had. I started it as a tone painting a few months ago and it has languished hanging from the rafters waiting for a nudge of inspiration. I’m painting it, brushed, in acrylic in a palette like Bedroom No. 38.
I can get some of the same feeling of flesh tone and smooth transition, but in looking closer at Wesselmann’s work, if it’s not airbrushed in actuality in this painting from the Hirshhorn, the effect can be duplicated with one. The subtlety of the shading along the chin and around the eyes, the fading of the shading in the black behind the face.
It’ll be interesting to see how the airbrushed technique fits the visions I have for this style. And interesting to see how cumbersome / difficult / frustrating this kind of tool is.