Painting and Drawing in Contemporary Abstraction

stone staircase bahamas painting contemporary abstraction

See the similarity to the stone staircase in the Bahamas?

contemporary abstraction cakes

Black on Creme 50 x 24″ 2014

The issue of when one draws or paints in contemporary abstraction is not a fixed matter.

In the Renaissance and pre-Renaissance, an artist would typically do a series of drawings and studies to prepare for a larger, more finished painting. Drawing was preparatory and rarely valued in and of itself as a finished and complete work.

A painting would begin with a drawing. Then, various thin layers of paint and glazes would be applied as gradually the drawing would disappear beneath the painted surface. Drawing created the armature and was not meant to be seen.

In Contemporary Abstraction, these matters changed considerably. Picasso opened the door to a very alive interaction between drawing and painting. Painting and drawing moved back and forth and there was a free exchange of energy between both. Picasso would draw with charcoal and pencil or crayon, for example, but he would also draw with the brush.

For me, there is very lively and desirable interaction between drawing and painting. I begin a painting by making a series of random marks in the white canvas.  These marks are sometimes made with my eyes closed, and at other times, something I might see out the window of my studio or some series of forms I have drawn before inspire me. At other times, I  will begin a painting by scribbling a series of words across the canvas, perhaps upside down and sideways all at the same time.

When a painting is started and the paint is sloshed and brushed and dripped and scraped across the surface of the canvas, some of the drawing will be visible, remaining under the painted surface. Further drawing allows me to open up the Painting if the surface goes slack or any area of the canvas feels flat or visually dull. Painting speaks to the Drawing and Drawing speaks to the Painting.

Sometimes — and this is a good thing — a residual drawing will spark the creation of a new form and similarly a painted surface or shape may prompt a certain amount of drawing to clarify that form or quietly change the nature of that form so that it integrates more completely with the entire painting.

Ultimately there is dance between Drawing and Painting.  You never know where the next step will take you.

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