My definition of an “elemental”

“How do I get such crisp, clean edges on my elemental shapes?”

This has got to be the top question people ask me when visiting me at an event or in my studio.  Just this morning I received an email from an art student in Canada wondering how I get those really crisp, clean lines in my elemental shapes.  So, I thought I’d post here about how I do what I do….

I’ll make this a three-post topic since my key has to do with both materials/tools and technique.  But in this first post, I’ll try defining “elemental”, especially since I made it up and you won’t find my definition in wikipedia!

David Castle’s Elemental:  “A painted shape, usually rectangular or square, that has crisp, defined edges and is created using a variety of brushes on a typically absorbent paper surface”.

Notice I sprinkled a few loose descriptors in there such as “usually” and “typically”.  I think this is because of the nature of my elementals (and one reason I named them that) – they have a kind of organic nature about them.  For example, in my last post, you’ll see some elementals that are certainly not rectangular.  And, I’ve also tried painting a few elementals on non-absorbent surfaces such as Yupo (those sure took a long time to dry!).

I’ve never actually tried to create a descriptive definition of my elementals; but, a picture is worth a thousand definitions, so:

elementals-sample-squares.jpg                not-and-elemental.jpg
These are elementals.                                       These are not.

Any questions?

3 thoughts on “My definition of an “elemental”

  1. chewy August 21, 2007 / 4:34 am

    “These are elementals. These are not.”
    David, you’ve illustrated the difference clearly…

    “Any questions?”
    and made me chuckle.

  2. Alyson B. Stanfield August 25, 2007 / 8:37 am

    I think of them as building blocks (thus the term “elemental”). Your description is clear, but each elemental (building block) is combined into elementals (that consist of many harmonious building blocks), yes?

  3. davidcastleart August 30, 2007 / 5:35 pm

    Alyson – You got it! That reminds me that you purchased one of my earliest elemental paintings… I’ll have to dig out the digital image of that one and post it on here sometime soon!

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