What vinyl can do for you
Through a vinyl window. Many years ago in Mexico Beach, Fl, I think it was, I was sitting at a local eating and drinking constabulary on the ocean-side porch looking through the vinyl pull downs that kept out the wind and rain of the day. The view through this portal was a scene of a playground on the beach at night, lit by the floods of the restaurant. It was a boring scene of jungle gyms and plastic slides, but there was something about the contrast and, more importantly, the distortion of the image through the waved and weathered vinyl. I looked out and thought, why can't I paint like that? For me, the problem is that in a painting, especially a plein air painting, I'm tackling one section at a time and I have the need to render each part instead of seeing the whole as a piece of art.
Seeing this again reminded me of a conversation I had with Matthew Cornell, a magnificent hyper-realist painter in our studio, who has an art crush on a contemporary artist by the name of Gerhart Richter (proof that you don't have to admire the artists who do what you do). He brought in a book of his work, a sort of retrospective-to-date of a very diverse and obviously German artist. The pieces that really struck a chord were the ones where he painted, usually on a large scale, a black and white version of a black and white and very mundane photo of slice of life in the 50's, then while it was all still wet, he would pull a broom or some such gizmo across it and distort or blur the whole thing. Funny thing was, not only did it mar the image, it made it way more interesting. I can't find a link to this body of work but, if you search images, you will find some. Here's one....
I suppose my point is that edge supersedes the object, at least in some cases. Edge certainly is an X-factor in great painting. Rarely discussed but really important. I think there should be an entire class on just edge and how it affects a painting, but that's me. Most artists tend to hoard their edges and protect them against harm and certainly there are artists who are masters of the controlled edge, T. Allen Lawson is one, magnificent bastard that he is. And I can't seem to create a link but look him up and look at his edges. fucker. But there are also masters of the controlled-uncontrolled edge like Eric Aho, Quang Ho and my all time fav, Alex Kanevsky.
So maybe, just maybe, it's time to stop enabling our edges and set them free. For the greater good. Think not about the rendering of that little piece of the puzzle, think about what the big puzzle can do for you. Freedom is in the edges.
Side bar to the beginning of this story is this; At this little bar in Mexico Beach was a foosball table, no one there I started putting quarters in to the machine to practice my game. I'm not half bad. Up comes a local who claims to be the reigning champion and challenges me. I smoked him, big time, 9 to 1. It's a local "I beat Bobby Fisher" story. And then as I went to my car there was a guy whizzing right where I needed to stand to get into my car. Life's ups and downs I guess.