This exercise is a real challenge because it’s about using floor space to dribble, drip, and splash paint onto from above. I have very little floor space, and five cats whose main function in life is to sit on or walk over anything I might put down there. I can’t really keep either the painting or the cats safe from each other.
However, thinking of footprints and inventive necessity, I put a piece of A1 cartridge outside on May 27th, well ahead of time, to see what happened to it. There is a lot of animal traffic in the spot I’ve chosen – birds, hedgehogs, visiting cats, and foxes amongst the mammals, and snails which will leave silver trails and reduce parts of it to confetti, and woodlice which are experts at shredding vegetable matter. I set up one of my wildlife cameras nearby to capture video clips of visitors.
There was rain and then mud but mostly the weather was warm and dry. I left it in situ and took photographs daily to record the changes, thinking then perhaps to use that setting to apply some paint guided by whatever the natural world has put there for me.
INSERT: I’ve just been reminded that I had been thinking of animal footprints when I put this piece of cartridge outside and I haven’t mentioned them. This is because the rain and slight flooding in that area, which I’d hoped would bring slugs and snails, did not, so not only did the molluscs fail to turn up but the rain washed out any trace of feet. All that was left was soggy paper with dead grass and hog droppings stuck to it.
Evidence of animal traffic is caught on video. I have a YouTube channel with an OCA playlist and this is where I put merged clips of animal activity. I needed to learn how to import these into the editing app and then to fuse the clips together. Somehow I managed cross-fading in the process and so there are ‘ghosts’.
Merged static images of the paper in situ using Filmora9 video editing software.
Merged clips from the wildlife camera using the same video editing software.
Today (June 14th), and very much ahead of myself with regard to the course materials, I brought the paper indoors to see what could be made of it. This is hay, mud, moss from the roof, and a certain amount of hog poo. It’s filthy and creased and also torn but it definitely qualifies as an import of environmental material. The first thing I did was to spray it with matte varnish in an attempt to fix some of the more mobile elements. Then I ladled PVA glue onto it to keep the larger patches of loose debris in place. I don’t have a huge amount of space for dripping, dribbling, or flicking paint but I did what I could, using the tilt facility on the easel to help with running and pooling. I had cave paintings in mind at first but this was ‘over-written’ as I began to apply paint.
I’ve used my cheapest paint, including the silver, bronze, and copper I bought before I understood about weight of pigment. Some of this has been poured and allowed to run (silver), some applied as blots with kitchen towel roll, and some flicked with sufficient twang to make an impression but not so much as to get onto the floor or windows. Now it reminds me of Jackson Pollock’s Wavelous Trails of 1947 although I don’t think he had the same calibre of assistants. I need to let it dry now and to look at the textures made by the paint and the environmental materials.
Pollock, J. Wavelous Trails of 1947. From Bridgeman Education.
I’d always thought this was in landscape orientation but maybe I was thinking of this one, titled Not Pollock, dated 1983, and credited to Mike Bidlo but confusingly appearing under a Bridgeman search for Pollock who had died in 1956.
June 15th: some parts of this – the larger globs of white – are not yet dry but the darker areas are and so I tipped gloss varnish over it from the top to let it run down via the channels created by the debris, and raising the bottom end a little to stop it running off. Finally, I made a slow motion video of it, looking at it as an alien landscape viewed from a landing vehicle.
Looking side-on at this as per the final frame, I’m reminded of Thomas Deininger who makes his images from pieces of litter, sculpting unlikely objects into 3D perspectives that only make sense from a distance. But more than that, it’s the model makers for films whose imagined landscapes were rendered in papier mache on large tables until CGI came along that this brought to mind. That ability to conjure up unknown and unknowable landscapes and make versions of them that work from all angles. Without them where would Dr Who be? Or Space 1999 and Blake’s 7?
As as post-script, I think it’s fair to say that I have used texture and extraneous bits and pieces in my art work before. Usually pumice medium (see https://conboyhillpainting.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/part-4-project-4-painting-a-landscape-outside/ ) but also sliced up OHP film and freezer paper (see https://conboyhillpainting.wordpress.com/2020/05/29/part-4-project-3-exercise-2-expressive-landscape/), but this is the first time I’ve brought vegetable matter into a piece of work. It is beginning to attract flies so its days are numbered!
Further post script. The original is beginning a new career back outside.
Thomas Deininger, artist. Website http://www.tomdeiningerart.com/works.html accessed 15 June 2020.
Learning outcomes 2 and 4. I have used multiple extraneous media alongside more traditional paint, glue, and gloss to make this piece, and I have translated the end product into a short video with sound.