A year ago, I attended a course by Brendon Erasmus called “Contemporary Painting.” The brief was to think outside the box and experiment – and my approach was to start with a box.

Playing with textures on the inside of a (clean) takeaway box, I started off using beetroot to stain the cardboard, but ended up painting with acrylic over lace.


With the box folded up:


Okay, so now the question was: what happens on the outside? I painted two large pieces of canvas paper with oils – first a very thick layer of Terre Verte that I scratched into to make a striped texture to glaze over. The next step was to cut the canvas up into scales and stick it onto the outside of the box, which had been painted a bright red. I rather like how the canvases came out before they were cut:




Box with the scales: 3/4 view:


The dragon’s “face”:


From this angle you can see the white back of the canvas, which I am currently busy painting with a mixture of Alizarin Crimson and Indian Red. It’s a really messy process and the green sides of the scales end up getting a reddish glaze over them, and I’m loving the result.


This little box has been sitting in my art shelf for about a year now, but I hope to finish it this weekend. I recon there’s 2.5 hours of work left to paint, and then it’s a question of “is it finished?” I’m contemplating making it more earthy by giving it a layer of Burnt Umber or something similar, but I guess that’ll depend on how much I like the scales once all the white has been covered, and how important it is for the outside colours to be more cohesive (trust me to stick green scales on a red background).

What’s really nice about this box is how it feels to stroke the scales. Almost leathery.

Written by: