Sunday, May 10, 2009

Action Painting

In my Theoretical Studies for this Project No.3 I was interested in how Jackson Pollock had to defend himself from accusations that his paintings were "meaningless explosions of un-channeled energy" and I must admit when I first started attempting my own abstracts a few years ago this question of meaning dogged me. Until, that is, I read statements by Robert Motherwell regarding the validity of painting from the subconscious. I also remember attending an artist's talk once where the artist, John Kinglsey, in answer to the question I put to him about his approach to abstract painting, said: "I don't try to intelectualise, or rationalise a painting by thinking it out first, I just follow my intuition".

Pollock rejected the criticisms of his painting, of course, and talked about having "total control...denial of the and motion made visible [and] memories arrested in space". I especially like that last point, which was what I think I was trying to express yesterday when I posted an answer to Melinda and Brian's questions on what my intentions were.

After almost five weeks of wide-ranging research trying to pin down those abstract artists who apparently worked from their subconscious (I found 10 out of over 25 I looked at), my attempts at "free" abstract painting, Subconscious Musings, Klinesque and Heronish "doodles", and Motherwell's "Automatic" paintings, the one thing I hadn't attempted yet was a bit of Action painting:

Action #1", acrylics on cartridge paper, 45x63.5cm.

Even with very fluid paint it's not easy getting it to drip off the end of a range of implements - brushes, sticks, palette knives - so I wasn't able at this first attempt to create and control lines. I had to make do with pouring from a plastic cup which came out in larger dollops than I wanted, but at least allowed me to blow the paint in whatever direction I chose, with the added (surprising) benefit of "feathering" into little fingers. This was exciting and lot's of fun! I felt totally engaged in the painting. As Pollock put it:"I am painting", and I don't think he meant it as a verb!

In this next one I was now gaining control of the pouring and was able to get thinner lines in the directions I wanted:

"Action #2", acrylics on cartridge paper, 45x63.5cm.

And for the third painting in this series I stayed with the same two colours which were giving maximum impact:

"Action #3", acrylics on cartridge paper, 45x63.5cm.

These just literally blew me away. I really didn't know such things were possible. The only downside was that after a few strenuous blows to get the paint moving over the surface of the paper I would become light-headed and dizzy.
So what's new I hear you say!

All of this was just limbering-up. Tomorrow the main attraction get's underway.
See you anon.


Melinda said...

Knocked back in my computer chair...I am wowed by your work. You've really been creating your own "memories arrested in space". I think you are becoming paint too. Sometimes, I like to say, "I am art".

Excellent work. I'd like to see you do this on more archival substrates...although Pollack used ordinary house paint which fades over time.

Can you see these 5' x 5'?!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

I am certainly "covered in paint"!!!

You are right, things like this should be done on more solid foundations to give them a greater sense of unequivocal intention.

5x5? Yes - they would be very powerful and intense to that scale.