Post image for Spirit of the Corn – Work In Progress Part II

Spirit of the Corn – Work In Progress Part II

by Alex Castro

“Spirit of the Corn” 48″x 36″ oil on canvas painted by Alex Castro ©

About the way I paint…. I have long studied and enjoyed the old masters like Titian, Veronese, Caravaggio and Rubens to name a few. As a result, my approach to painting is very laborious. I make everything from scratch, except grinding my own pigments. I use Belgian linen canvas, rabbit skin glue and litharge for my ground on all my canvases. I wash my oil for impurities, a process that can takes weeks. I also make my own medium “Black Oil” and bees wax for impasto. I work out my tone values in a Grisaille in (Gray tones ) style. Then I apply a translucent coat of paint that allows the dry undercoat to appear (velaturas)

“Spirit of the Corn”

“Spirit of the Corn” 48″x 36″ oil on canvas work in progress by Alex Castro ©

In the picture below, I have laid out the composition on a tone canvas. Toned canvas helps establish tone values immediately. I then scrub black ivory and medium on the composition and paint in the rest in a very rapid fashion. At this point this is more of a wet drawing then a painting!

I also start my gray tones using Ivory Black and Flake White mix in medium on the Indian. When dry, I will gradually darken in a transparent manner establishing my light source and tone values along the entire composition.

I do not paint “Alla Prima.” This took three sittings. I define a sitting from the time I start until I can’t go any more or the work demands I stop.

The brass plaque on my large oak studio easel reads “Let the Spirits of the old masters give me the grace to create.”

 I decided to leave the left hand less finished and more transparent than the right hand. I felt it would look more interesting  this way.  I believe that anyone can paint something appear new or whole but making something look old, worn and battered is where the challenge is….it is this that makes the painting take on  a certain “Character, ”

 Although I am a traditionalist, I will pick a style that best suites the composition and the visual statement, rather than try to impose a particular style on a painting or limit the type and range of work I do because of a style concern. That being said, once I commit to a style for a given composition ,  I try not to mix styles on a particular painting.

 To me what is important is to create art that provokes thought and makes the viewer think about what he/she is seeing. I am not interested in decorative art nor am I interested in imitating or following the status quo of existing art. What I’m interested in is pushing the envelop and challenging the the norms of art and at the same time respecting and building on the great art of the past in my own  distinct and original way of painting! A gifted artist and forum critic recently commented the following about my artwork,  “Thinking, thinking, thinking……. More of your different concepts, Alex. This must surely be “Art for the Thinkers”, but it works for me.”

 Some art critics have tried to compare me to some artists and even compared my work to Salvador  Dali ! I resist anyone trying to define my work and me at this time. In my opinion, an artist is defined after a substantial body of work and only then we can begin to know the artist.

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