Just Do It (or not…I don’t know)

This process is is slowing me down yet slowing down might be a good thing. There is some sort of wisdom in taking one’s time – allowing learning to take place.

Part of the reason I am doing this project relates to the urge to work. I just want to make paintings, but I always need new substrates. I have to wait to work. I have to do carpentry, stretching, gesso, etc. In the past I began painting on cardboard to deal with this issue. I would be able to work – just nail the cardboard to the wall and start painting.

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Etcetera and its Discontents (Air Filtration), 2013, acrylic on cardboard, 72×72″

This current painting is using what I am calling a “stretch/re-stretch,”method of painting. I stretch the canvas as normal, but the stretcher is much smaller than the overall canvas. I then make a painting, un-stretch, then re-stretch to create yet another. For this particular work I am using a 60×216” canvas. I am painting paintings at both ends – vomit and poo reference, burning candles at both ends idioms. Over and over till the paintings meet in the middle. But is slow going. I am have made four painting per side and I don’t know how many more I will need to make. Time is limited in this space, and I may not even like this painting when it is done. I will also need to make a stretcher that is six yards long.

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as yet untitled painting, acrylic on canvas, 60×216″

The thing has to dry. Each painting needs to be pretty wet so as to drip on former and latter paintings – because I am seeing that the thing will eventually need to drip on previous paintings too. So as I work I am painting on previous finished paintings. As if they are never finished – mechanically following the process of designing and re-designing.

It is also an exercise in functional relativism. If each painting could be seen as a world view, then to have them all swimming together would suggest that multiple world views are being squished together. Some might be louder than others and some may be totally silenced. I do not know how to deal with this seemingly dominant contemporary epistemology. How do we justify the power we have? How do we justify our dominance over others? How do we justify our beliefs? How do those beliefs become justified in a crowd? Who profits? Who suffers?

I am also working on multiple paintings besides this work. Works on paper, works on canvas, and yes, a return to cardboard (though the cardboard is unfinished).

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acrylic on canvas, 19×19″

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acrylic on paper, 9×12″

But perhaps slowing down is useful. The painting dries, it drips on the as yet un-painted canvas, and it waits over night. Apparently painting is a thing that can push back against the speed of this contemporary age. The stationary painting isn’t timed based, it doesn’t move – it is at rest and thus the viewer can take a cue from the inanimate object. The viewer can be still. The viewer can plumb the depths of the maker’s smudges. This mark here. That mark there. “What was the maker thinking?” The viewer gets to empathize with the distant human. The human who is not even present. The viewer gets a chance to walk in the maker’s shoes.

These things might be true. But I just want to work. Which might really mean that I think that work makes work or one should, “Just do it.”

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