Watching the paint dry…

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I’m back after 18 months with a build-up of new material to write about and illustrate here. The past 12 months has been more than a terrible year with the passing of my wife in November 2013 and my suffering a major heart attack, through stress, in April 2014. They say if you’re going to be really ill make sure you do it in France… well, a helicopter whisked my unconscious form to the best heart hospital in the country, and I was putting the kilometres under my legs within a week by strolling along the long corridors pushing a contraption holding my intravenous drip. I also unexpectedly rediscovered much creative energy once I was up and walking again, and now paint or draw every day without fail… maybe to get my ideas down in case, or before, I die!

Speaking of drips… I’d been shifting rocks and weeds in the garden for three hot, sunny afternoons… and as a creative interlude between cool drinks and forehead sweat-dabbing thought I would do a bit of “watching paint dry” at the same time. So, between shovelfuls of stone and refreshments I carefully planned, then experimented, with dropping diluted acrylic paints in various colours from my studio window to ground level, where sheets of 56 x 75 cms “Arches Platine” (at $10 a pop!) were lying in wait 4 metres below my outstretched arm.

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Currently, and maybe strangely considering the price, I still feel quite free with my use of large – and thus difficult to order even though it is made in France, and I live there – 30 x 22 inch sheets of premium, hand-made, cold-pressed, 100% cotton, acid-free, 310 gms/square meter watercolour paper; whereas my cheapish, “Fevicryl” made in India, 200ml tubes of acrylic paints are squeezed and twisted hard to extract the last drop of gooey pigment… and then, instead of throwing the empties away, I squeeze some air out and use the tube’s reforming suction to introduce a little water into their interiors, followed by a good shake to salvage any remaining – although thinned – surprisingly strong colours.

The overall image of these drops of paint look quite casual in execution – after all, “action painting” was shown in the 1950s to be simply a matter of dribbling, dropping and splashing paint at random onto large canvasses by the late and now famous, if not equally notorious, American artist Jackson Pollock who, currently, holds the world record price for a piece of art at $148,000,000 for one of his canvasses bought privately a decade ago by the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim from Mexico.

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However, in reality I find there is much contemplation and concentration required for this type of “instant art”. It’s not so much hesitation from lack of an idea, or fear of spoiling the paper or canvas; nor, for goodness sake, is it the typical response from many viewers who come out with the old line, “Oh, my child could have done this!” It’s creative selection and omission with a semi-uncontrollable medium – thick liquid dropped and squirted from four meters onto a fairly small target from that height. In fact I spent three days on each piece – they were done in tandem – because of the hours generally required for each spatter of paint droppings to fully dry before another colour was shaken, aimed and squirted. I also found that the thinner the paint dilution the more the radial splatter on the receiving paper surface, whereas a thicker mixture simply hit the paper and remained as a blob with no spreading traces of impact to show for it’s interrupted trajectory.

So from this interesting exercise I have two finished, signed pieces which are now on Saatchi Art online for sale…

Drip Drip Drip #1… http://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Drip-Drip-Drip-1/395193/2144814/view

Drip Drip Drip #2… http://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Drip-Drip-Drip-2/395193/2144820/view

Images © 2014 Ed Buziak

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2 comments
  1. Nice work. I even get a tiny feeling of Mondrian, in color choice and ratio though not obviously in terms of composition. That’s just my perception as a non-artist (is non-artist a thing?).

    I just stumbled in here and don’t know you, but I’ll still say sorry to hear about the loss of your wife and your health problems. I’m sure there’s healing in art.

  2. Thanks for your comments Eric… I looked after my wife for 25 years (she suffered from MS) and when she had gone my life started to collapse… after a massive heart attack I was basically kept alive in a helicopter then sorted out in hospital with minutes to spare. Strangely – although maybe obviously? – my life took a very positive turn when I got back home… my art rescued me!

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