“What do you do with what you’re given, and how do you transform it into something worthwhile?” – Donald Fagen
“the transformation…like the cracks in the sidewalk…I remember walking those early morning streets…the sun would just peek up over the top of the liquor store across the street…high up where the pigeons would dance …back and forth…up and down…or just sit calm…depending on the time of year…and they’d be cleaning the street with straw brooms…pushing all the nighttime world…back where they thought it came from…the outdoor chairs were empty…all of the conversations quieted…it smelled like everything you never wanted to know about…sort of little black and white photographs with bent corners…and pencil writing on the back…dated …names…places they called home for a few years…or maybe they became the woodwork…the clacking noise close to the wall…when the roaches would scurry underfoot…and the street lights haloed with swarms…while the night was so thick…it was called the “lush life”…pink skin sort of thick…kind of dreamers was how the men by their taxis seemed…maybe sordid…maybe saints…rimmed gold teeth…funny little hats…”I’ll be your best friend…I sure will”…he held a dollar bill up high in the air…the broom tucked under his arm…”mira mira”….I puked on the sidewalk”….from The Black Eye Project
I’ve always loved watching water swirl down a drain; it seems to me there is a dialogue there that to this day I’ve not been able to get entirely. Yet I still work at it every time I see it happen
Painting is an interesting journey, much like water swirling down a drain, there is a conversation that if left unnoticed or addressed becomes just another day at the easel. I paint every day and like to look at each day as what it isn’t compared to what I might think it is. Each day is different and by no means a continuation of the previous day’s events while painting. There may be similarities and more often than not there are major ones, but each event has a life-time of it’s own and sort of dies a slow death right before my eyes. Once the piece is done, the conversation ends maybe to be addressed later or never again.
Sure there has to be some connective quality to painting, but for me it’s not the finished product; it’s more or almost all of the process of getting to the finished product. I feel the process of painting is the connective device that allows the painting to exist. Otherwise it’s just all practice strokes, or ideas that have a beginning and a rather hazy end.
The one thing I’ve truly found out about painting is the importance of a plan. Now the plan can be very vague and nebulous, but for me something has to be there in front of me to make the process begin. I don’t literally mean a drawing or a photograph there to my left that I can look at but the idea has to have a greater presence that not. I paint non-objective work; the dictionary defines Non Objective as:
1. Not representing objects known in physical nature; nonrepresentational: 2. Emotional; based on inner experience rather than fact.
So the question arises, how does one develop a plan for something that doesn’t really exist? Perhaps the answer is translation. Translation means: “change or conversion to another form, appearance.” So taking say an idea and translating that into a feeling that in-turn can be shown perhaps as a color or combination of colors, throw In a few directions and objects/shapes that represent what that idea may look like in your mind. Add some marks that accentuate the important parts of the idea, maybe different colors. Try an emotional approach like getting angry or sad or happy and get the physical equivalent of that to appear as paint on canvas. Maybe take off all of your clothes, cover yourself with paint and roll around on the canvas, for personal effect of course. Then see what you have for that day. End the paintings life for that day and continue this process for a few days a week for a few weeks and see what happens. Three things may very well emerge. 1. The entire canvas is brown, 2. There is a painting with a bunch of great possibilities, or 3. What you feel or think is much harder to express than you thought it would be.
Often No-Objective paintings are confused with “Abstract” paintings. “Abstraction” is taking an object as a source and manipulating it into something that no longer appears to be that object but is referenced to that original object and source. It is nothing uncommon to hear even gallery owners make reference to anything that is not landscape or figurative as “Abstract”, sort of like any tissue is “Kleenex”, or any Soda Pop is “Coke”
My brother is mathematician, he knows a great deal about the math behind water swirling down a drain. The connection between the math and the art describing the water and the drain and the swirling is really not that different, is my guess. Translating those combinations of math, water, drain, swirling, and paint, just might make a really interesting painting project. I can say, I always laugh a little bit when I see water go down the drain, because as a child I would picture myself on a small canoe made from a piece of Wrigley’s spearmint gum navigating my way down the swirl….so I guess it really would be an “Abstract” painting….at least it feels that way….
“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” – Oscar Wilde