Friday, March 25, 2011

New Works, Gordon MacDonald

It's a lovely March 25th, and we can't think of a better way of celebrating this first Friday in spring than with new works by Gordon MacDonald!

After a successful trip to Toronto, Gordon  has returned with these new paintings on canvas, board and copper. To see the entire collection, visit our website 

For those of you not familiar about his works on copper, Gordon has offered this explanation:

    Gordon MacDonald
Works on Copper

In 1992, I saw an exhibit of Flemish paintings by artists who surrounded Rubens (1577 - 1640). In their midst were two paintings which stood out. It wasn't the skill with which the paintings were executed, or even the subject. What was remarkable was the freshness and vibrancy of the paintings, they looked as if they had been painted last week.

At first, I thought they were forgeries, but on closer inspection found they were painted on copper. At the age of three hundred and fifty years old, there was no yellowing, there were no cracks - none. After doing some research, I found out why.

Copper is a self-protecting metal. If the top layer (the patina) is removed with sandpaper, it immediately begins to re-oxidize. Oxygen is the very thing that is needed to dry oil paint. As the top layer of copper seeks to recombine with oxygen, the oil paint absorbs the oxygen. Since copper is the surface underneath the paint, it helps to dry even the bottom layers of paint. When oil paint does dry on the copper (I have tested this.), the paint can only then be removed with power tools and heavy sandpaper.

Microbes are one of the causes of deterioration with oil paint. Wood or canvas are susceptible to organic break down, and old work often needs to be  "relined", which means one separates the paint from the surface and puts it on a newer surface. Even work that is only 50 years old can deteriorate in certain climates. Copper prevents this from happening, as it is an inhospitable environment for microbes.

Copper is also not as susceptible to changes in temperature the way canvas is. Temperature changes can make canvas repeatedly slacken and tighten, allowing cracks to form in the work. Copper is completely stable. Although the cost of copper is rising (as I write this it's $4.50/lb), it is a small price for the result I get. It's also a fun surface to paint on.

If you would like more information about paintings on copper, there is a book on the subject titled “Copper as Canvas - Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, 1575-1775”