Everything Old is New Again – Recycling for Beauty and Process

I’m a natural recycler, always curious to see if something can be reworked to become something else, perhaps even to become beautiful.

The studio has it’s own kinds of detritus to work with.  Rubber gloves became a rectangular field, a disco ball, a curtain flounce, sculpture.

The plastic that paintings are wrapped in for shipping became playful banners:

Dabs of paint from old student grade paint jars reworked with a medium became a highly pigmented, rich neutral color:

I’m now working on a body of work using un-stretched painted canvases from years ago.  When I first turned to painting in earnest, I painted madly, running  full out, streaming through 30 yard rolls of canvases akin to writing madly in a journal, letting everything out without pausing to wonder about it.  This was ultimately my best teacher, letting me find an unmitigated voice.  The paintings were then evaluated long and hard, to learn what worked and what didn’t.  Some of these were chosen for public, the rest were rolled up and stored on a low shelf.

As I love working large scale with big gestures, the idea of using these many canvases, pushed together on the wall to create a very large piece, has been quite a sensation. I have a 5 gallon bucket of inexpensive “Oops” house paint and am using a roller to apply it across all those wildly varying images. The failed paintings disappear except for a few interesting areas and become something else.

I randomly record with a time-lapse camera to watch the process – and to amuse myself.  Here’s a clip from beginning the first painting:

As soon as I completed the first one, I did another one:

Using up these materials for a minimal cost is somehow thrilling, and freeing.  Experiencing utter freedom in process is the very most hallowed place from which to work, allowing for a process of exploration, just like it was when I was finding my voice in the beginning.  This is when new directions open up, and series are born.

Here’s a 8’x19′ piece in process:

Everything that wants to show up, can show up in this free, uncensored zone.  As I’m immersed in all things John Graham (Russian born figurative painter who lived in New York mid century) right now and reading his book System and Dialectics of Art, my fascination with the philosopher and his art is reflected on this canvas.