Texture + Paint = Art. Duh.
Now that I’m done with the 9 panel series I’m in the studio looking at things once more, wondering what comes next. I eventually decided to work on a study. The motions were similar to the larger series, this time thin layers of color, but it felt aimless. So I took the small study, sat on the couch and just stared at it. I’ve had artist friends say that they look at their art waiting for it to tell them what to do, which in fact was what I was doing. Here’s what it said:
1. Yeah, maybe.
2. Texture. Then it struck me that I never paid enough attention the the texture of my work. I wanted it to appear to do something specific, so it did, but I really didn’t consider the texture to be anything more than a metaphor enveloping the text. Content, dude, not aesthetic. Which is where I’ve gotten off the go-cart to get a closer look.
Here’s a few snaps I took today in contemplation of texture.
This is the piece I worked on earlier. I was focusing on the color before I sat down to eyeball it.
This is Thank You #3, the one I originally decided was a failure. I eventually put it on the table then slapped it around with color. Note how the underpaint, the texture, obscures the text creating highs and lows throughout the panel. These highs and lows, little earthquake valleys, delineates available planes of surface that determines how layers of paint might blend on the panel.
The color on this one is a mess, photo-wise, but you get the point. Careful use of the color allows us to see how the paint beneath was applied. You can see how the tool moved over the panel, the stops and starts, the quick scrape that digs into the top layer of paint and the quick scrape dragged over a word, illuminating it.
Here I’ve handled the paint differently, applying the texture in a subtly different way. The idea was to open large spaces that were less busy and dramatic than the one above. And per above it changed the possibilities for how the paint is applied, creating larger, more cohesive panels of separation and space. I also worked with a different tool, a kind of steel spatula that’s narrow and long instead of a paint scraper that’s wide and sharp.
Which reminds me that I should point out the entire 9 panel series was done with the paint scraper. Here’s another one:
This one, another 44 x 44″ panel, gets sanded down after I gave up on the painting. Sanding down screws with the texture by flattening it out. However, one slick thing that it also does is randomly mess with the shapes of words as well as allowing the letter’s original color show through. Again, per prior posts, folks really seem to dig this. I get it, but messing with the texture by altering it with a sander isn’t what I’m shooting for. Generally speaking.
The point I’m getting at is that I discovered a lot of this after I’d made the paintings. It’s true that an aesthetic point of view developed as I moved through the panels, but function over form never stopped being the #1 most important aspect of the piece.
Which reminds me of what I was looking for when I took the studio. Namely the ability to make text, story, word, whatever the hell it ended up being disintegrate on the panel. I wanted to show how the stories of our lives, the ones we never tell but live through us, how they break down as we break down and how as we pass it’ll be as if they never existed. What’s interesting is that the art, if kept, will exist a hell of a lot longer than I ever did. Seems a bit ironic, hey?
In any event, I’m now going to spend some serious time looking at texture and how it comes about. Function is great and grand, like buying a new car because you like the payments, but you still feel like a bourgeois asshole the moment a decked out Plymouth Barracuda pulls up next to you. You know something in your life isn’t right. You also know if you think about it too much you’ll send your new commuter masterpiece off a bridge and you along with it.
See what I mean?
Um, large digression here. The point being, the latest point being, pay attention to everything. Slow the hell down, ask the opposite question of whatever you think is necessary and see what stacks up. I don’t like the color blue in my paintings, for example, but looking at the awesome bastard up top I think perhaps I should examine that. Or find a way to buy a Barracuda and give up painting. Yes, now I have 2 essential questions to ponder this evening. I’ll let you know what sticks.