|"How do you make them?"|
This short statement was originally published in the catalog: Ronald Davis’ Paintings, 1962 - 1976. The catalog accompanied a retrospective exhibition at the Oakland Museum of Art, Special Gallery, July 13 - September 5, 1976
The most commonly asked question about my plastic paintings has been, "How do you make them?" My reply has been, "The same way one makes a fiberglass boat or car body." In case you have never built a boat in your backyard, here is an attempt at a more technical explanation.
In 1966 I began to substitute polyester resin plus pigments and dyes for traditional painting media. Fiberglass cloth and mat replaced canvas as reinforcement and support for the colored resin (paint). These plastic paintings were painted with a brush, face down, on a flat, waxed Formica mold. The mold itself was table height, and the small preliminary drawings I had made foe these paintings were cartooned up to scale on the mold. The illusionary plane nearest the viewer was masked out with tape and painted first; the planes further away from the viewer were painted last. The rapid chemical heat-curing properties of resin (about thirty minutes) allowed me to apply layer behind layer of colored resin until the painting was completed. Layers of Fiberglas impregnated with resin were then laminated to the back of the painting, giving it a support, and a wood stretcher bar was attached to the painting. The completed painting was peeled from the waxed mold and polished. It was then that I viewed the painting for the first time!
later plastic paintings, i.e. Eleven Colors, 1967, the wood was
eliminated and instead the sides were molded onto the painting as one
piece, and a backing sheet of resin and fiberglass was added for structural
support. In 1970 I began to use a flexible type resin, i.e. Single
Sawtooth, 1971, eliminated the sides entirely, and attached the painting
directly to the wall with Velcro tape.