Recently I finished work on two paintings, both of which have been in a state of incompletion for quite awhile.
I started one of them over a decade ago. I can’t remember whether it was when living in a tiny apartment in Fort Walton Beach, Florida in 2004 or in my first home 20 miles away in Crestview a year or two later. At the time I was painting lowbrow paintings of tattoo flash using acrylics. While I had had mild success at beach galleries a few years earlier selling Banksy-esque stencil graffitied canvas, there were not very many buyers. There were no buyers.
The canvas was stuffed in a closet for almost a decade only to be revisited years later and after moving about five times.
After moving into an old rental home in the Huntsville’s medical district the canvas became a testbed for drip painting using all the old rotten nasty house paint remnants I found in the garage.
Drip painting is something I never expected to love. It looks random but isn’t, but at the same time you don’t have the control you think you do. In that sense it reminds me of the way life gives you just enough control while still being incredibly random.
This drip painting experiment seemed like just that for a few months. Until I finished another long living piece of art.
Back in 2010, I started painting some more abstract pieces than I had in the past. I made two canvasses, they were sort of rearrangeable, meaning you could hang them in various arrangements and certain lines would still line up and colors match etc. it was a pretty horrible execution of a bad idea. The canvasses went in a closet and eventually the canvasses were used by my daughters for finger painting. They ended up a big thickly painted grey blob.
About a month ago, my daughters were painting and I decided to show my youngest how to drip old house paint. We laid out a drip cloth in the driveway, laid down the old canvas and flung old lumpy, gooey, and poorly mixed paint all over the place and stood the painting up to watch the drips travel various directions. Eventually the canvas was covered. I figured it was junk and smeared the paint using the flat side of the scrap of wood that we were using to fling the paint everywhere.
It was like magic. It took a not interesting and ham-fisted looking drip painting and changed it. It made sense to me. I could see shapes and saw motion in it now. It’s not as large as I would like but it fills a space on the wall next to the TV that used to be occupied by an iteration of the aforementioned drip painting test canvas. I often find myself just staring at it as if my brain is trying desperately to figure out what the painting is about.
That canvas had come down when the new one went up. It sat in the empty fireplace for a few weeks and I would star at it. It was busy and forced looking. The colors were off. I was not a fan.
I tried it again. I squirted whatever black and white paint I could find on it. Not sure if it was acrylic or tempura poster paint, but it was now on the canvas. I then took an scrap stamped wrench and spread the paint across a portion of the canvas and changed the whole feel of the piece.
Abstract art may or may not be your thing, but I think it might be mine.