RYAN DaWALT uses hand-colored steel granules and the earth's magnetic field to compose his works. We asked him to tell us a bit about his artistic process:
Making colors that respond to magnetic force: Beginning with stainless steel granules, I first coat the particulate with gesso to whiten an dull the metal. In order to keep the granules from clumping I keep the material in motion with a wooden block on piece of leather in front of a fan. Whitening requires 5 separate coats of gesso. Following the whitening process, I then use the same process to add acrylic color. It takes about 4 hours to make a single color. Once the color is dry and free of clumps, the finished color is kept in a jar. I work with about 20 colors in the form of granules (that is 20 jars with different colors that I have made using this process).
Two types of magnetic field lines: The force vectors created by a magnet are called lines of force. I use two types of magnets to get two distinct textures in my paint. The first is a series parallel lines that resemble corduroy. The second looks like how frost forms on a window -in swirls of structure. The corduroy field can be acquired using a method similar to making a print from a plate and is purely geometric and mechanical. The frosty field is a gestural and expressive mark.
Applying the corduroy field: Using 2" strips of 1/8" rubberized magnetic material, I have created a 2x2' magnetic surface which I can put raw linen on. The dry pigment can be applied from a bowl using my fingers or a Chakpur for a more controlled line. As the colored granules fall, they are held to the surface in textures created by the magnetic force. In this case, parallel lines resembling corduroy.
Applying the frosty field. To apply my colored pigment using this field requires a thin enough surface for my magnet to penetrate and affect the pigment from behind the ground. I use a rare earth or a ceramic magnet to apply this field. The pigment can be applied to the surface of the painting and then I manipulate the particulate from the back of the painting. The affect is very much like a traditional brush stroke.
Fixing pigment to the surface of the linen: Once the textures have been created in the paint, the magnets can be removed, but not before the results are fixed using a clear adhesive.
Mounting the linen: Once all of the above steps have been achieved and the fixative is dry, the linen can be mounted to a backing which can range from board, a stretched canvas, MDF, etc. -whatever I want to be the support.
Detail of "Field Potential #3":