action painting


During the summer of 2013 I was based in a small hotel bedroom in central France and only had a very small area in front of a window overlooking the street below to practice my artwork… basically it was a side-table with a few layers of thick, 40 x 30 inch salvaged cardboard which had sufficient overlap (underlap?) when working with my favoured 30 x 22 inch sheets of “Arches Platine” paper. Partly to protect the difficult-to-find large sheets of card (they were sourced from packaging life-size, cut-out advertising models demonstrating diet supplements in the local pharmacy window display) I also used cheap brown wrapping paper under the edges of the art media to partly protect the backing card from my daily excesses of overlapping brushstrokes of paint and stray scrawls of pastel and oil crayon!

I don’t know how many times I scrapped and threw away the cheap brown paper which had been at the receiving end of my unintentional abstract graffiti strokes, but one day I started to look at the “collage” work of various artists on the internet and got the idea that perhaps I could incorporate my accidental throwaway designs into an artwork in their own right.

What basically happened was that I assembled layers of torn strips of my saved waste in various combinations until I had a pleasing composition, using colour, tone and basic (or rather opposing) directions of the brushstrokes to create a finished piece. Sometimes I thought of “skyscape” as the subliminal theme… but more often than not “fireworks” came to mind.

This “Fireworks #2” collage is made up of acrylic, abstract painted strips randomly torn and glued to a 40 x 30 cms (nominal) sheet of Canson 160gms/98 lbs cartridge paper. The colour palette includes Deep Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, Deep Cadmium Yellow, and is now available at Saatchi Art…

Images © 2013 Ed Buziak



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.


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.


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…

Drip Drip Drip #2…

Images © 2014 Ed Buziak

“Crowd Scene #1” ~ Ed Buziak (2012)

This image is close to the final stage of my first piece of artwork for 2012. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and this view reflects how I’ve been destroying the original patches of color and crayon strokes. The work is being done with Talens “Rembrandt” soft pastels on Arches Platine paper and measures 30 x 22 inches (77 x 56 cms)… if anyone is perhaps thinking of it for their wall!

I have long admired the dynamic use of color in the works of Scottish artist Alan Davie (I bought one of his lithographs “Celtic Dreamboat II” in the early ’70s which I still have); and that of Bernard Cohen whose work I also bought a small example of again in the ’70s but which was unfortunately destroyed by a careless UK removals firm when we came to France a decade ago. Bernard Cohen’s involved use of complex line being almost hypnotically absorbing and sometimes, despite my implied effect, being soothing as one may feel when exploring a maze with time on your hands but no fear of getting lost in the dark.

And then there is Jackson Pollock  whose paintings defined a new Abstract Expressionist movement in American modern art in the 1940/50s. As his work has sold for as much as $140,000,000 – to a Mexican tycoon – the only chance of his work in my hands is a book or exhibition catalog! Pollock’s technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term “action painting” and with this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art, the paint literally flowing from his chosen tools and containers onto the canvas which he walked and danced across at times.

The impression I am trying to communicate is one of a very crowded thoroughfare, seen from above, with an uncountable number of people coming and going about their business but with a sense of chaos. It is an imaginative scene I dread being caught up in, in reality… having not visited a city of any real size for more than 25 years… and on that occasion when I got near the center, I turned around and retreated to my distant, but calm, village abode.

**I will update this page when I have decided the piece is finished… and has been signed.

** This is now for sale on Saatchi Online for $900…

Image © 2012 Ed Buziak

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