Sanding a painting
This painting sat on the shelf for quite a while. I knew it wasn't right, but it wasn't totally wrong either - something that would allow the easy choice of a scrape off or a frisbee toss into the trash. So I sanded and scraped it down to a thinner paint film and worked it again.
Those of you who have taken workshops with me know my thoughts on sanding pigments: not a smart idea. Stupid, actually. And I still think that. Airborne pigments are terribly toxic (especially cadmiums - but no pigments should be inhaled), so let me just tell you that I did take precautions. First, I wet the whole painting with odourless mineral spirits, and then, wearing nitrile gloves, I sanded the surface with wet-dry sandpaper. I didn't go for fine grit paper - which would give fine particles - allowing the scratches of a coarse paper to become part of the work's surface interest.
Wet sanding created a dark, messy sludge on the painting's surface which had to be wiped off often with paper towels and more solvent, but none of it floated poisonously around or hit the studio floor. I couldn't have done it on a soft surface, but the birch panel took a beating. I did have to be very careful to avoid scratching through the layers of acrylic gesso priming.
Below is the painting in its original state. It had some good points, but was too specific and individual a portrait for my liking. What I really enjoy about all of the "person holding fish" pictures that I see is the universality of the gesture. If they intend to release the fish, all anglers adopt a reverent, gentle, cradling posture - offering the fish to the camera with pride and care. In the repaint, that was what I aimed to capture.