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Slow Art, Back to Nature Art

There are a lot of parallels between the kind of art I make and the Slow Food movment from a decade or so ago. My style is also very much ‘back to nature’.

Why is it ‘Slow Art’?

Just as slow food is food prepared and served, as opposed to popping a processed tv dinner in the microwave, my art must also be prepared before I serve it. To start, I forage for pigments before I even have paint to work with. I gather the ingredients for my paints, then break, crush, and wash them. A chef or cook prepares Slow food ingredients by chopping and adding to the dish. Often those ingredients need further attention, like sautéing before going into the dish.

Back to the slow art, with oil paints, I can use them as soon as I’ve gotten them mulled into the oil. From start to tubed, an oil paint might be ready to use within an hour, if I want a rough paint. To have a smooth paint, then the pigments undergo a washing process that can take a week or more.

Making the Art

Once there is paint on hand to use, I create a painting. However, before I begin applying color to my canvas, it needs to be primed. That usually takes a day for three coats of gesso. I try to prime several canvases (or boards) at the same time, so I can skip this step on some of the paintings. I’ll have already primed boards on hand. Depending on the painting I’m creating, I could have a finished small work within a day or even a couple of hours. But if I’m doing thin layers or a large painting, it could take weeks to a month for a finished piece.

This painting of a raven took about two weeks once I made the first stroke. But a blank canvas sat on my easel for weeks before I had a clear image in my mind for what I wanted to do. I knew it would be a raven, but I wasn’t sure what setting I wanted to use. Once I’d decided that the raven would be drinking beer from a flowing tap, I did sketches to figure out how to position the bird in an unnatural behavior that still looked natural for the setting.

My raven painting in a repurposed frame of excellent quality. My art is Slow Art and Back to Nature Art.

Back to Nature Art

My paintings have a natural, old-world look to them. That’s because all of my pigments sources (except one of the whites) are from rocks that I gather straight from nature. Pretty much every day I pick up a rock I see that has a color I will want to use. The white that I buy is sourced from a naturally occurring form of titanium. I buy the powder and make the paint myself. I also use a white that I get from our local, foraged limestone. It isn’t opaque, though, so I can’t use it for adjusting shades and values. I do use it for transparent effects like glazes, though.

My goal with my art is to avoid chemicals as much as possible. I don’t use paint thinner, except to wash my brushes every few weeks. I use what I can literally or conceivably source for myself here at Wild Ozark. That’s a large part of what makes it ‘back to nature’ art. The term ‘organic’ doesn’t apply in the physical sense, because all of my pigments are inorganic things. But it is ‘organic’ in the sense that it evolves from a handmade, natural process. It also contributes to why it is a ‘slow art’ form.

Most of the subjects I paint are natural. They’re either landscapes, birds, animals, or something in a natural state of decay (old tractors, old sheds, old cabins, for example).

So it is Slow Art and Back to Nature Art.

What does the Slow or Back To Nature terms mean to you?

Have you ever heard of either of them? If so, do you think my art fits those descriptions or am I stretching?



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