Public bathrooms. Not the most sanitary place you want to spend time in– and not the most picturesque place to begin my MFA work. But that’s where I’m going. I’ll explain my reasons later.
The goal for this project is to paint 30 different scenes from 30 different bathroom stall interiors. I’ve come up with a list of guidelines for myself in order to push the project conceptually. Here are some of my requirements:
- Each painting will be completed on site, from life, inside of a bathroom stall.
- The thirty different bathrooms must be in public places in the city I live in, and locations must have an additional stall for others to use while my painting is in progress, so that I do not have a monopoly over the stalls.
- Each visit will be documented (filmed and photographed) and written reflections will be made during visit.
Once I established these parameters, I spent hours driving around town going in and out of public restaurants, gas stations, stores, etc… in order to develop a list of thirty locations where I could paint. The most difficult thing about finding the locations was finding places that had more than one stall. I know this may seem odd– but I was amazed at how many restaurants only had a single stall for women. I had to write off these locations because it is important that this project not be isolated or removed from the public. I also wanted to make sure (for the benefit of the place I was painting) that I do not take up the only bathroom available for the public. So if it had only one stall, it was out. Despite this difficulty, I was able to come up with a list of 30 places that I could paint which had multiple stalls.
PREPPING FOR THE PAINTINGS
Next, it was time to start prepping for the paintings. I needed to think about this project in its entirety– as a series. So I had to figure out how large I wanted the series to be when displayed collectively on a wall. Once I realized the general size I was going for, I determined that each painting should be around 8-10 inches. Then it was time to start thinking about surfaces. What would I paint on– Canvas? Wood? I immediately thought about one of my favorite series recently executed by Rose Frantzen called Portrait of Maquoketa. You can view the series here. I noticed that she used wooden panels for her series, and I really liked how this looked.
I also remembered a NHIA classmate of mine, Ellie, had completed a series with 8×8 wood panels she purchased from Dick Blick. So I decided to use square panels, knowing that working within a square will provide me with some composition challenges. I’ve never worked much in squares, so it will be a good experience for me!
I went ahead and purchased 12 panels to see how I would like them. They are 3/8 inch thick and have already have an acrylic gesso.
As an oil painter, I prefer to work on an oil ground, not acrylic gesso. And so when the panels came in the mail, I immediately coated each panel with two layers of Gamblin Oil ground. This took some time.
A finished surface. After a week of drying, it will be ready to go!