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,
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.
For [potential] health and aesthetic reasons I discontinued the use of
resin and fiberglass in 1972.
— Ronald Davis 1976