Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Painting Hand

The Painting Hand:

What is it like to learn a new skill? What is the process, the successes, the failures? What is craftsmanship and workmanship risk? What is this tool called ‘hand’?

(6) 12”x12”x1” insulated glass units
(5) tubes acrylic paint (red, yellow, blue, white, black)
(2) bottles Falloria il Palagio 2006 Chianti
(2) hands
(1) mind

In an attempt to make something by hand, emulate the role of craftsman using skill and the natural, inherent tool, I engaged in a study by finger painting. As children, the hands are used often and without reserve. Before we could master a tool: a brush, a crayon, a stick, the hands were first mastered. The four fingers, thumb, and palm work intimately in concert with the creative medium: mud, rocks, sand, paint, or play-doo. In a search for this raw imagination through ignorant exploration, I turned to painting by hand. Acrylic paint is a medium that I have not much experience. The material is a stranger to me in that I do not know its tendencies, its characteristics, its personality. What does it like? What does it dislike? What can I get it to do? The journey will be a collaboration with the material. I must rely upon its instruction, and I must listen closely.
1 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass
The first pane was perhaps too aggressive. I jumped right in with three fingers per color, pulled from the ‘palette,’ but the 12x12 pane was too small for this strong of a stroke. After the first applications, the palette holding several large dollops of paint (they seemed large at the time, but how quickly they dissipated) was void and in need of more. I was not using a fine, precise tool such as a brush - I was using blunt and ignorant fingers, but that’s not how “painters” do it: paint goes from tube to palette, from palette to brush, from brush to canvas. Pure habituation. Pure crap. The caps were placed back on the tubes as well. Why? Was I trying to contain them? Control them? It would not do. The caps were screwed off with the clean hand, the right hand. This was by intention (I did not wish to soil my goblet and anticipating the necessity of opening or grabbing things, I did not intend to spread creation all over creation.) Teeth and fingers manipulated the caps off, preparing them for their immanent use. There was no intention to the first study.
It was an innocent introduction, a tentative step into the process. The first passes went fast and the coverage was not as thick or extensive as expected. Red was first, then yellow, and finally blue with the same three fingers. The palm
began to play in search for a ‘clean’ edge to pick-up paint as it was smeared around. The mud and muck of smearing
paint around a glass surface with haphazard blending materialized into a mass of baby shit or split-pea-soup green set just below a red smear with kisses of yellow. It was overworked. It had started to dry & would no longer blend. More paint. Apply paint directly to fingers - the palette was useless. Messy and no longer able to preserve the integrity of the color, they are applied directly to the pane. Looking for better color combinations and blends, the introduction of white or black was inevitable. Black - reflective of my days’ mood. A huge glob, perhaps thinking it could be an eraser or top coat that would cover, conceal, and make new the sick green mass. The whole hand was in it now - smearing left and right across the pane. Control was a distant concept floating further away. Black covered across the whole surface - working itself up the composition. Again - overworked. Yellow, yellow-green ended up being the visibly dominant color, with black, or a shade of black diluted by the baby-shit. It was a good and informative introduction. Clean the hand and start again.

2 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

For pane #2, red & blue were to be dominant. The intent had gestated - replicate the process, achieve a similar end. Blue first, on a single finger. Thin spread - too thing, for it started to dry too soon and would not mingle well with later colors/paint. The knowing of the consistency, the depth of the color stream was communicated from the soft and cool ‘roll’ under finger. When the finger pressed hard on the paint, the glass expressed itself. When the touch was more gentle, a caress, the paint rolled along as liquid velvet. Red next - on the middle finger. The second finger started pure with its own color identity, just as the first finger had, but it is unavoidable, inevitable that if red was to exist in this world, this 12x12 flat world, it would be unable to maintain its individuality. It became a blend of the two, to various extents dependant upon the intensity, the value of each of the players. Which color contributed more would not be known, but their sum turned to be greater than their parts. The process dragged too long and the players did not mingle to the expected end. Black again. Too dark now - the whole thing dark and muddy and the light in this room is not good. The rest of the hand became involved as the composition became overworked and dried. Just stop.

3 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

Orange. The color of sunrise and sunset. The color of no rhyme. Red was applied first with the learned method of a single finger for a single color. Quickened pace. Feel it. Listen to it. Confidence and less tentative gestures from listening, and then learning its personality Yellow now. Some strong streaks. Be wary of overworking it. Black - a big glob on the red finger from the bottom of the pane up to the yellow. Green, that dark green, has surfaced. Stop. Don’t overwork. Black again from the top down to the red streak. Still very wet and malleable, workable. Some strokes across with ‘dry’ fingers take paint away revealing the color below that still maintains its identity, its fervor. Three fingers in and knowing when to stop. Pleasant.

4 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

If they had names: “Ocean Floor”, “Midnight”, and “Sunset”.

Detail A: 4 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

Detail B: 4 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass
It is difficult to know when it is done. Ever - Never?

5 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

It’s done when you are ready to walk away from it.

6 of 6, Acrylic on 12"x12"x1" Glass

It's done when you don’t want to fuck it up.,

Just in Case

Just in case you were too freaked out to think clearly or finally looked around your confines...