TESSERAE WORKS

TESSERAE WORKS

It has been a long-drawn-out winter here, and the extreme cold has meant that I have been unable to use oil paints for the duration. Instead I have been exploring a new technique which I refer to as Tesserae. These, like the piece in progress pictured above, are created using old paintings that have been chopped up and reconfigured to create a new image. In some instances, like this one, I have constructed the new image over and old painting, and in others, I have created an acrylic underpainting specifically for the new work. Sometimes, the new image is a reflection of the original work, and in other instances, there is no contextual relationship between the new image and the old. 

Tesserae … the small pieces of canvas culled from random old paintings … are much like the flotsam and jetsam of thought that we dredge up to help us tell a story. So too do the old lines, colors, and textures help to create a vibrant new narrative. The remnants add depth and interest to the new original, just as the traumas, joys, griefs and loves that we experience add color and texture to our memories.

While working on this piece, it was struck by how much this artistic process resembles the process of reconstructing my life since being diagnosed with cancer. Picking through the fragments of old paintings feels like piecing together an ever-changing image of myself. I always seem to be stitching together a new version of myself to present to the outside world, using those parts that are ready to hand, and augmenting them with old memories. I am finding that my new normal is sort of super-glued together. 

The image I construct out of old canvas might look solid and real at a distance, but closer examination reveals a convoluted fabrication. Just so, am I cobbled together with bits and pieces that have washed up on the shore of my life. I can’t imagine that I am alone in feeling this way. But then again, it ain’t necessarily so.  Maybe it is just that I have the time to mull over all this existential dreck while cutting up old canvas.

Meanwhile I have completed eight of these Tesserae works. The finished piece is pictured below. To view the other Tesserae Works, go to my website www.PattersonFineArt.com.

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