Tag Archives: chaos

Newton’s Third Law of Motion

I’ve been thinking a lot about forces – things in my life that appear to be pushing or pulling me.  I can’t really figure out when to push back, when to resist, and when to succumb to the pressure.  It’s both a creative and a personal dilemma.  As often happens, my artwork seems to be the place where these struggles play out.

The creative dilemma goes like this: My work has evolved such that I now have to spend many, many hours making precise shapes and lines and thousands of tiny marks over the initial chaotic shapes I create. It is tedious and slow work, and there is almost no joy in it – except the joy of seeing the intricacy of the final piece.  What I love about making art is playing with chance, letting things happen, immediacy, acting on “instinct”, serendipity.  Not giving my mind time to interfere.  But, inevitably, when I work this way, I look at my paintings and think they need structure; something deliberate that gives them shape and holds them together.  Hence the lines and dots and shapes.  I feel pressure to create order, and a simultaneous pull toward chaos.  The painting below is in progress, but pretty much sums up how I feel.  In my head it is titled “Tangled Bird of Prey, Dying”.  I’ve never been one to shy away from melodrama 😉

This leads me to consider Newton’s third law of motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Is it preferable to find a balance between unrestrained, chaotic mark-making whose movement is outward and explosive, and precise, deliberate scaffold-building whose movement is inward and toward containment?  If making these structures is mind-numbingly boring and I feel a huge resistance toward it, should I desist, or work through it, like a runner getting past “the wall”?  There is a force within me urging me to stop, and another urging me to continue.  Is Newton’s third law of motion describing an impasse?  In which case, shouldn’t it be avoided if progress is to be made?  I guess it depends on the story I choose to tell myself.  Either, my inner child is pushing me to cut loose and she’s the one who drives me to make art in the first place so I better listen, or, art requires work, discipline and surrender and the uncomfortable stuff is probably the stuff I most need to learn so get on with it and stop whining.

Structure beginning to appear out of chaos (work in progress).

Thousands of dots emanating from a chaotic spill – the movement outward loses momentum and dissipates (work in progress).

Trying to avoid the issue all together, I ended up making sculptures last week 🙂

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BS Radar

Thanks to my studiomate Angela Dominguez, I heard about an upcoming juried show at Arc Gallery in San Francisco, the title of which is “Flow: The Essence of Paint”.  My work seemed like a good fit for an exhibition that explores the liquid quality of paint, given that most of my works harness the chaotic qualities of water (and ink)  in motion.  So I submitted three pieces for their consideration (my first such submission to a juried show), and am happy to report that two pieces were selected – one for the show in their physical space, and one for their online exhibit!  The one that will be hung in the gallery is a newer piece, from the “Viscera and Effluences” series, so I was pleased to see that it was well received at its debut.  It’s called “Release #1”, and it’s one of my favorites:

The “Release” pieces that I create involve adding acrylic inks to water and then rolling the liquid around on the surface of the polypropylene by tilting it. This creates chaotic “channels” and paths of ink that serve as an initial structure around which I build the rest of the composition. I enjoy the challenge of having to work with marks that I have very little control over, and then building order into and around it, much as we create meaning and structure around those things we can’t understand or control in our lives.

It’s interesting to watch my mind’s inclination toward order, and the satisfaction that arises from successfully navigating that process.  And it’s also interesting to be aware of the equally strong inclination to then destroy the structure, or impose yet more chaos over that hard-labored illusion of safety and solidity.  Who knows where that comes from?  I think it’s a BS radar – too much settled, measured balance and some itchy feeling develops somewhere in my body that wants to yell “Bullshit!” (sorry Mum), because experience has taught me that nothing is ever as secure as it might appear.  So then I go back to swimming about in ink.

“Viscera: Stomach” will also be appearing in their on-line exhibition. More details to follow…..

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