How the Painter Sets the Stage

How the Painter Sets the Stage

When a painter, whether abstract or figurative, begins a painting there is nearly always an awareness of where color will go. How a painter creates an explosion of color on the canvas depends on the working methods of the painter and, to a large extent, the time frame within which the painter paints. In earlier centuries, for the most part, a painting was built up in series of layers using glazes and repeated layers of paint to prepare for the drama that was to unfold whether The subject was Jesus about to be crucified or a Dutch merchant ship sailing into the harbor. In more recent times, as the immediacy of painting became more implicit and the setting up of the ground (or background as most call it), it became a process that was not buried under layers of Paint but rather asserted itself with and against the ‘subject of the painting’ whatever that subject might have been. When Henri Matisse, the grand master of painting in the 20th Century, painted a simple still life of pink and red tulips on a grey green table against a blue grey wall, he would begin Not with the painting of the flowers but the painting of the space around the flowers. A preliminary drawing would be made most often in charcoal and Matisse would begin to fill in the space around things, the space around the flowers. His brush would move quietly, then Pick up speed and drama it would ‘ dance ‘ around the drawing of the flowers. The brushstrokes begin to collide and swim and toss and turn a...
The Drip in Abstract Painting: To Drip Or Not To Drip?

The Drip in Abstract Painting: To Drip Or Not To Drip?

The Drip or the use of the Drip in Contemporary Abstraction is a complicated subject. It is natural for paint to drip. It is a liquid material, or can be made liquid to varying degrees and for anyone who has attempted to paint a house they will soon realize Paint will by its very nature drip. Throughout the world, in past cultures, the drip was not encouraged. It made little sense for a painter in prehistoric times, or the time of Christ or the Pre Renaissance or Post Renaissance to allow for drips in painting or a fresco or a mural. This diametric changed considerably with the beginnings of Abstract Painting in the early part of the 20th century. Painters began to see the drip as something with a certain ‘aliveness’ that might help to enhance the energy of a painting and this awareness of the drip came to center stage with Jackson Pollock in the later 40’s in New York, particularly when he moved from the warehouses of lower New York to the more open spaces of The Springs in East Hampton. Pollock had moved from painting with a brush to dripping the liquefied paint with sticks and brushes. He would lay the canvas flat on the floor and walk around the painting, losing track of inside and outside, top and bottom, east and west. There had been precedent for dripping paint amongst the Native American Indian sand painters earlier in the century, but Pollock took this dripping to new heights, in terms of complexity and scale, that had not been achieved before. The drip replaced the brushstroke:...