Abstract Thinking

I have been flinging paint of late. I have been dipping and dribbling and squirting and swooshing…all in the name of art. Well, sort of. It’s a big canvas…four by six feet…so big I had to borrow a friend’s van just to transport it. What was I thinking? The weather has been typically dreary here so a backyard paint-a-palooza was pretty much out of the question and the garage floor is far too dusty for such a far-flung project.

So I set myself up at one end of the so-called games room upstairs (remember those?) and began fastidiously tarping the walls.

Understand, that painting this way runs counter to every well-ordered, sequential chromosome in my being. I have very conservative tastes in art. I was weaned on the perspective of the Canadian landscape school. For years I followed the country’s art auctions and longed for the kind of disposable income that would have allowed me a financially palatable entry point. I bought the best work I could and what truly pleased my eye but none of it will ever be worth a fortune..and none of it could ever called ‘abstract‘. There are barns and trees and mountains and lakes on my walls..nothing that doesn’t clearly identify itself in a comfortable traditional fashion upon first glance.

But I was tasked recently to provide a painting for a big, bare freshly scrubbed wall in a family member’s new condominium..and his tastes in art are not my own. ‘Give me something ala Jackson Pollock‘, he cried. Let the dribbling begin.

You can’t just spatter paint and be Jackson Pollock…and that style and methodology is not a true representation of what that artist did throughout the tragically short course of his career. So I make no pretense to artistic connections here. Let’s just say it was going to be of the ‘ action painting ‘ school. My toenails were bound to be tinted.

I have built it up in layers, as you should with acrylic paint and I must admit it has been fun. Every squirt bottle in the house was commandeered for this mission. I had shampoo bottles, mustard bottles..at one point I was flicking from an old toothbrush. Many experiments with pigment and viscosity ensued. Questions tormented me throughout the night. Sleep was lost. Did I want it glossy or matte? Will the paint run off the edges? Do I need to protect it from dust? And when I finally stood before that huge stark white stretch of canvas it was a bit of a knee-knocking moment. Sometimes, though, you just need to dive in.

not Pollock

So I started with a yellow and red wash, added some bronzed accents and let it dry for a day or two. Then a little swoosh of black and white covered by bold blotches of blue (more drying), more bronze, then back to great swooping white lines (drying) followed by a shotgun blast of black spattered with the wooden end of a paintbrush. At times I hovered over the canvas like a bullfighter, banderillas in hand, (damn near fell into it at one point!) and cavalierly traipsed the paint. I actually broke a sweat in the process but it’s probably more from fighting the anxiety of perceived disorder, rather than the sheer physical exertion. The heavy protective overalls might have something to do with it too. When I was done walking around the perimeter, sliding this way and that on the plastic drop sheet, everything below my ankles resembled an exhibit itself. So I tiptoed to the edge of a bathroom sink, contorted myself like the Yogi Kudu, and abraded every digit to the bone.

Is it even remotely Pollockian ?

Whataya crazy?!  Yes, it’s Pollock without the cigarettes and the booze and the broads…oh, and without any sense of overriding revolutionary artistic vision. It’s Bob Pollock. It’s Phil Pollock. It’s any Pollock you’d like to name. But it’s mine and I like it. It’s growing on me by the minute. I dare say that the exercise may have even been slightly therapeutic.

What did I learn from this?

It appears I don’t mind loosening my grip as long as there’s a drop sheet to catch the drips. That’s the kind of mess I can hang my hat on.

Therapy #1


5 Responses to “Abstract Thinking”

  1. Quite good actually. There is a hidden talent there. Keep at it.

  2. Love the color combination and it is really a nice painting to look at.

  3. you did what I have tried to do in a way I have tried to do it with all the angst I have had but with the success I haven’t had! love it!

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