I am reading about artists from the 1940s and 1950s, whose number includes Jackson Pollock, the quintessential ‘action painter’. His paintings were so large that he was within the confines of the canvas, placed on the floor, as he dripped and splashed paint. Some who watched him paint described the process as a ‘dance’.
The painting below is my version of an action painting.
After I painted some random marks in various colors on dry watercolor paper, I let the whole thing dry. Then I rinsed it under the tap, scrubbed off as much of the pigment as I could, and crumpled the paper into a ball. This was the ‘action’ part of my painting: I crumpled the paper with great vigor.
I flattened the paper and let it dry again. As with yesterday’s study, I rubbed a stick of charcoal over the surface to darken the high points of the peaks created by the crumpling. I painted the edges of some of the charcoal lines as I saw fit.
My ‘action painting’ technique was inward instead of the outward. The energy that my hands created was through a clenching action rather than a letting go. The violence to the paper was revealed only after it was flattened after the crumpling.
After the contours were accentuated by the charcoal, I considered what colors to paint and where to paint them. This was a more intellectual exercise than that of preparing the ground for the study.
I like the mix of unpredictability of the paper folds with the intellectual choices of coloration along the lines created by them.