Until now none of my series’ of paintings have been defined by physical accident alone. They are grouped based on theories of conscious decision, instinct and prescribed action and the effect of these things on the appearance of a painting.
However recent series’ instead address observed effect rather than construction theory, and such an approach has its benefits. It means that the materials define the aesthetic quality of the finished painting. It’s an observed rather than a dictated value– an event that occurs after my work is complete, but before the painting is finished. It does not rely on painterly skill and in fact enhances an unsophisticated application. Apparently you can polish a turd (or some turds can polish themselves. Or something)
This is the case with 2 recent series’. The pervert upstairs and Happy being stupid… both rely on the fugitive qualities of wet paint (in these instances almost exclusively household gloss). In the former an initial coat of colour is laid down, and then a second colour is brushed briefly through the first, wet on wet, allowing the 2 to mix a little, but not much. The paint continues to move post application such that by the time it is dry the brushstrokes are still clearly visible but in the fine detail the paint has settled and marbled together in natural eddies and swirls. It is in this autonomous movement that any beauty lies. In the case of Happy being stupid… the absorbant qualitiy of raw canvas plays a critical part. A single coat of gloss is applied to the surface (immediately soaking into the fabric) and allowed to dry. Then another coat of a second colour is applied to the reverse, the rectangular form of which is dictated by the area of canvas on the back not masked by the stretcher. This second colour then soaks through to the front of the canvas, in some areas resisted by the first application of paint and in others, where the gaps in the warp and weft have not been blocked, leaking through. The result is a painting crudely constructed, but exhibiting no clear evidence of any hand. Once again any aesthetic compositional success relies on accident over intention.
Thus the observation of an attractive and satisfying paint behaviour that is not affected by my own (in)ability to paint can be enjoyed all the better for the reduction or even absence of obvious deliberate attention. I am essentially just introducing the 2 materials together in a particular way and allowing them to act. The most important moments occur after I have stopped working, as the phyisical qualities of the materials smooth away the blemishes caused by my fallible hand like Vaseline on a lens.
Of course the act of applying the paint does retain a value, and in fact one could consider it enhanced. These ongoing trials of method are undertaken in search of a painting process that can be enjoyed to its fullest and without compromise. I could remove disappointment in my own ability by devising some way to apply the paint mechanically instead of getting my hands dirty. I may well enjoy the completed works a little more, but where’s the fun in looky no touchy? As I never fail to announce, I like painting, so that’s what I’m doing; indulging in the act of slapping on sticky colour with a big hairy paintbrush. And in these cases it really doesn’t matter at all if I’m crap at it.