10. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

Originally posted 18/4/2014

Given that the first mark is the worst, and that I am not pursuing reduction as my main source of interest my inclination is to move in the other direction and add rather than subtract. Of course, as has been well documented (by me), with the addition of more painted marks comes increased risk of failure, specifically the exponentially multiplied possibility of poor composition.

With a single mark one has only so many relationships fo consider – One isolated gesture seen in reference to the boundries of the picture plane alone, but adding more introduces the problem of compositional clash and destroys the simplicty of a single mark. Decisions become more difficult. Whereas purely intuitive ‘composition’ of one stroke is relatively low risk (it could go pretty much anywhere and look fine), combining mutiple marks becomes rather daunting. As the potential for making bad decisions grows the level of enjoyment swiftly recedes.

One recent example seen below. An intutively made composition of 3 small green strokes on a rich rose ground. It was a struggle. I had to abandon it, scrape it back and do it again. Twice. And I would have gone on doing so, but for time constraints, frustration and boredom. At the time I finished/gave up on the painting, I really didn’t like it. I’ll admit I’ve softened a little now, but it’s still unsatisfactory to me and frankly would have remained out of sight had I not felt due diligence ditcated its presence as example.

I won't be held responsible for my actions 2014 Oil & gloss on canvas 39.8 x 49.9cm

I won’t be held responsible for my actions
Oil & gloss on canvas
39.8 x 49.9cm

The conclusion then is that the less decision making I have to do, the better the painting is likely to be. As evidenced above enjoyment derived from the physical act of painting is undermined by the angst involved in deciding where the marks should go and I perceive an intrinsic lack of quality in paintings I have conceived. Whether this is down to hyper-criticism, a desire to ever improve, or just a deep rooted, irrational aversion to anything of my own authorship I don’t know. It’s probably all three, but it exists as a fun-sucker whatever it is. To ‘worry’ about what to do as I’m doing it completely devalues the undertaking because the complete painting is of supposedly diminished quality as a result of of the falibility of my choices.

Therefore decision on composition would be better made before construction begins – and moreover it should be outsourced. I am keen to attempt driving a wedge between the cognitive process of inception and the manual act of production. That way the likelyhood that I will be pleased with the result is significantly increased. To do this it seems that I will need the painting to be mapped out before I begin, just as the Preachin’ paintings are. Reducing the level of authorship – relieving myself of the weighty burden of decision – apparently promises an improvement in practical and perceptive enjoyment.

I have considered a few ways i which to do this: Replicating found random compositions like knots in wood grain or the arrangement of bits of discarded chewing gum on the street, but this is unsatisfctory as it adds a layer of reference that is entirely irrelevant and confusing. I even considered asking others to draw a series of points to define my compositions, but that’s just shifting the problem of poor decision making onto them. And they’d make even worse choices than I would. A series of genuinely randomised points seems to be the best, most pure solution. A composition of this nature is entirely artifical and unique, with no further external input whatsoever. It ought to allow me to make marks free of other concerns and fulfils the enduring and overriding requiremnt of offering greater opportunity for indulgence in the act.

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