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Marilyn Comparetto "Mixism" Demonstration
24 October 2008

Visit Marilyn at http://www.mixism.co.uk/ or, more generally, at www.marilyncomparetto.com

Apologies for the colour temperature adjustment: I must have set the wrong type of light. Sam Dauncey
The talk gave us a good insight into Marilyn's artistic journey. She has been painting since about 1970 and she's brought up 8 children, including triplets and twins.

While she was bringing the children up they needed the money from selling her paintings and so she did more-commercial work. Now she can afford to be experimental - more fun but fewer of her works are suitable for the average home.

She works big - tonight's canvas looked about 30 x 50 inches. She buys her acrylic in bulk and decants it into 'small' (half-litre?) jars for everyday use. In the studio she would make up a stay-wet pallette (supermarket greaseproof paper on wet blotting paper) but for a 2-hour demo it's not necessary.

She normally starts with a 'doodle' in the centre of the canvas: this time in black, applied with a very heavily loaded brush. She then moved to a big cheap decorators brush (3 inch?) and pallette knife to fill the area outside the doodle, also in black.
Other works Many of the details of her work have hidden significance, for example likening a painting to the universe and explaining the black outer reaches as 'the unknown'.

Marilyn had brought several canvases with her. She uses lots of 'found' material with emotional meaning for her, even crabs' claws and leaves.

In the picture of the spirit breathing life onto the earth, the hair is Marilyn's own, the roll of material is in fact part of her daughter's wedding dress (accidentally torn), the arc above this is broken glass (the mess mankind has made) and the autumn leaves are unused canvas stretcher wedges.
Her concept of 'mixism' gives her absolute freedom and she finds that canvas is flexible enough to allow this.

This evening Marilyn squeezed PVA glue (with her fingers - no allergies, luckily) into builders' scrim, from Homebase, to make a cord which she pressed down over some of her doodled lines. For more prominently textured ridges she might use vegetable nettings (also PVA'ed to the canvas).

These ridges separate the areas defined by the doodles. With the canvas horizontal you can then put puddles of PVA, paint and/or ink into one area and swirl them around to create interesting wet-into-wet patterns. For the demo, working almost vertically, she just painted with primary colours but gave the impression that this was very much underpainting.
Glued-on scrim
Glued-on scrim
Part way When the surface is wet (either because the paint has only just been applied or because you've deliberately put varnish on - Homebase, again) you can scrape pastel onto it to give a speckled effect.

She also likes using metalized gold, silver or coloured gift-wrap string. Here, with red and gold and a needle, she created the rays in the top-left corner, finishing by adding the 'source' - a glass bead attached with fine wire.

One little bit of advice was to try painting to music. It tends to get rid of any tightness in your movements.
Life is a bowl of fruit Other examples of her work varied from
almost convertional mixed media, such as this 'Life is a bowl of fruit', through
a slightly more three-dimensional one (Great Heavens Above, right) with pheasant feathers and glimpses of landscapes through 'holes' to
ones with real sculptures made of papier maché pressed into a sheet of scrim (PVAed to the canvas), covered with DAS air-drying clay and coloured with paint and/or gilt leaf.
Great Heavens Above
Great Heavens Above
She demonstrated the use of craft leaf by dabbing some of the special adhesive onto areas of the canvas and applying gilt and brass coloured leaf, which sticks only where there is adhesive.

The 'scrim/papier maché/clay concept was incorporated here too - the papier maché seemed to take on the shape of a fish, so that was emphasised, but the clay cannot be added until the base is dry. You can see below where we had got by the end of the demo

Marilyn said she would take photos of the progress of this work over the next few months and put the results onto her website.

Webmaster's note: I hope to show the finished work here too.
Gilt leaf and fish
Gilt leaf and fish
End of the demo
End of the demo

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