Thursday, April 22, 2010

Brad Kunkle: Step-by-Step



If you were able to read the recent article on Brad Kunkle in the April 2010 issue of American Art Collector, then you saw the excellent break-down of the artist's method of creating his gilded and oil painted piece Revelen. On my recent trip to Arcadia Gallery, I was fortunate to be gifted with images from a second step-by-step by the artist which was not included in the magazine article. I will do my best to interpret Kunkle's process, but even if I fall short of fully describing his methods, I hope I can still express the type of planning and effort that goes into each of his works.


Kunkle prepares his own canvases with several applications of oil primer, applied with a knife, and sanded between layers. He then tones the canvas with a mixture of ivory black and raw umber which he rubs onto the surface with a cloth. After this dries, he begins a monochrome underpainting of the figure.



Kunkle continues building up the darks, leaving the tone of the canvas as the lights on the figure.



After applying an adhesive, Kunkle begins laying in the silver leaf.



Kunkle continues gilding the picture, manipulating the leaf where it meets the figure using etching tools and other sharp metal objects.



Using a soft chisel brush, Kunkle works in a circular pattern, pressing the leaf into the weave of the canvas, and removing any of the loose, overlapping layers of foil. When this is done, he shellacs the painting to protect the silver from tarnishing, and to create a surface which will accept oil paint.



Working on an overlay of tracing paper, the artist plans out the position of the serpents which appear in the final painting.



Kunkle then adds the serpents using genuine metallic gold leaf.



Using tracing paper again, Kunkle plans out the decorative, organic background.



Kunkle paints the design using titanium white.



The main figure is refined using a limited palette.

The finished painting: Girl with Serpent and Pearls, oil, gold, and silver on canvas mounted on wood panel, 25"x30".


This painting is part of Kunkle's solo show, Against Nature, opening April 22 at Arcadia Gallery in SoHo.

18 comments:

Belinda Del Pesco said...

Un-Be-Lievable. That is incredible. Thanks so much for sharing this. Wow, wow, wow.

Jason de Graaf said...

Do you know if he uses actual silver leaf or gold leaf or is it imitation?

Hania said...

That was amazing! I love his works

Lisa McShane said...

Thank you - so cool to see the process.

Kristin Hjellegjerde said...

Fanastic presentation, I might be able to go by today and look:)

Kyle V Thomas said...

Thanks for posting this, Matt. Did you talk with Brad about how he came to this process and look for his work? He seems to be a big Klimt admirer.

Lauren said...

I keep wondering if he has ever written icons or was influence by Orthodox iconography.

Great post, thanks!

innisart said...

For those of you reading this post for a second time, you may notice that I changed the description for the step in which Brad added the snakes to his work. Much of the description written in this post comes from reading about Brad's work, my own interpretation, and an abbreviated conversation with the artist before his solo show opening. Brad and I had not discussed this particular painting, and in looking at the work, I had made the assumption that he used metallic gold paint on top of the layer of genuine silver foil. Brad was kind enough to write me and thank me for this post and, as an aside, let me know that the snakes were done in genuine gold leaf. I have since made the appropriate changes

innisart said...

Jason- Brad uses genuine gold and silver leaf. Part of his process includes sealing the silver leaf with shellac, which he, at times, wishes was avoidable. Sometimes, the shellac changes a certain look to the the silver leaf, but if he were not to seal the genuine silver, it would tarnish. The gold, which does not tarnish, is at times left without shellac because of certain visual effects Brad wishes to attain.

Lauren and Kyle- I'm not sue if icon art has played a big role in shaping Brad's work, but Klimt is a definite influence. I plan to write more about Brad at a later date which will include such information.

Jason de Graaf said...

Thanks Matthew. On a pragmatic level I have to wonder how he afforded real gold and silver leaf, before becoming established.

innisart said...

.... Dang! I really need to write that article on Brad! He's a talented guy- he's been doing art for a while, including commissions in wealthy areas outside Philly and, after the economy tanked, dioing decorative gold leaf in architectural settings (that is where he was inspired to add the leaf to his paintings). I think he's been careful with his money, but he has had a certain amount of income from his second job too- he's the bassist with the indie band, Aderbat (now called Mammal of Paradise). They've been garnering some attention as well... You can purchase Aderbat albums through iTunes, and their new project, Mammal of Paradise, is offering their first album for free download on their website.

Jason de Graaf said...

You really should! I always wish there were more books or articles on the nitty-gritty of making art, not the inspiration stuff but the schemes some artists have to make money, how they afford to do what they do, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if he is painting on top of a photo. The figures look photo shopped into the scene and all the artists I know know using shellac is a no no

Fergus Ryan said...

Matt, I feel privileged to be able to see this wonderful, inspiring work in progress. Thank you for pulling aside this curtain in the Inner Sanctuary.

Giri Goswami said...

very nice, I know an Indian artist who uses rice paper by painting silver, guess is to get similer effect, thanks for sharing this with us.

Sharon Knettell said...

Does he work from photographs of his models or from life?

Neil said...

Thanks for a wonderful article. Do you know what he uses for the adhesive?

Nadya Persel said...

Thanks a lot for sharing this!! Love this post!