Thursday, 7 April 2011

deep movements

I think I mentioned in my previous post that one day recently I got thoroughly sick of my naffing about, and just picked up some oil paints for the first time. I've never liked oil paint, judging it usually to be applied too thickly, to be somehow too painty, when I like watery. Where other people seem to like brushmarks, I've always hated them....

Thinking about oils and acrylics in recent months, I haven't been able to imagine that I would like them, as it seemed that one of the things that had been fascinating me with inks and watercolour was the element of unpredictability - the fractals and accidents; the endlessly surprising events that could never be anticipated or fully controlled. It seeemed that in oil or acrylic (apart from watering them down and making them behave like watercolour) you had to know what you were doing, because every mark was consciously placed by your own hand. And, I suppose, you're influenced by descriptions of people working in the past - all those sketches and studies, that only become 'finished paintings' after months of preparation.

But on the day in question, I bypassed all that thinking completely. I just got the paint, got the cheap canvas (very freeing....) and starting splodging paint. No plan, no forethought, no intentions. As I suspected, it turns out oil can do things that no other medium is capable of. And it seems that, for me, working in this way, with no plan or intention, is perhaps the equivalent of the unpredictability of using water-based media. You don't know what colour you're going to choose, how much you're going to put on in any one place, or how you're going to respond to what happens.

You can't know the effect that a tiny corner of blue will have on you, or what it will make you do. You can't imagine on day one that on day two you'll suddenly pick up a deep pink and slash it across yesterday's pale green. And you certainly can't imagine that day three will find you breathless before your amateurish, dark mess, strangely excited by what's happening in front of your eyes. It's the weirdest thing.

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