One of the challenges I face as an artist is change and growth. Once I’ve developed a style, the tendency is to stick with it, because I’ve got it down and I know I can do it well. But after a while it becomes too predictable, and I have to shake things up a bit. I have to be willing to let go of expectations and make a hot mess!
Those “aha” moments only come from extensive experimentation, and for every “aha” there are hundreds of hot messes. I thought I’d share some of my recent messes with you.
Each experiment begins with “I wonder what would happen . . .” This first hot mess started with “I wonder what would happen if I used a checkerboard background,” and that wasn’t particularly pleasing, so I continued with “I wonder what would happen if I splatted some paint on it.” That still wasn’t enough, and I finished with “I wonder what would happen if I press it against another wet painting.” The result? A hot mess! But sort of interesting in its messiness.
Most of my tools and supplies are still in boxes in the garage, which can be a good thing, as it forces me to be inventive with what I have available. The one tool I had was my fingers, and other than paint, I only had brush cleaner and water. So this next painting was predicated on “I wonder what would happen if I dipped my finger in the brush cleaner and ran it through the paint.” Pretty much another hot mess.
Each time I make a mess I’m learning something about what works and what doesn’t work, which led to this final piece that I kind of like. “I wonder what would happen if I sprinkle brush cleaner on the surface of a wet painting and then press another canvas on top of it.” I’m not sure how I would replicate this, but I can see it on top of a subtle salmon checkerboard background.
And so it goes, day after day, looking for the gems in the messiness. It’s a process of making a mess and then resolving the mess with the questions, “How can I make this hot mess into something beautiful, and how can I then use the new technique to create something interesting and meaningful?”