Expanding Scale and Collaboration in Painting

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Collaborators can be found in history, technology, past and foreign cultures, or with a living colleague. Here are examples and, descriptions of a variety of partners and methods. If scale is to be expanded then studio size, materials, and tools must all be reconsidered. A broad gesture which swallows up much of a 8″ x 10″ panel with a single swipe of a 2″ brush fails to make an impact on a surface 48x 72″.  There the body can stretch, the brushes expand ( to 6″ and wider), and the palette itself must enlarge to accommodate the larger surface’s thirst for paint.  When two artists collaborate on a larger surface, as Max Dunlop and I did recently, we discovered the need for studio space expanded as well.  Imagine two artists walking back and forth considering two different 48×72″ paintings simultaneously. Before I consider such a collaboration, I have another form of collaboration to describe.  This one was with Peter P.Rubens, of the 17th century. Rubens also collaborated with other artists. He used an expert at painting animals  as a collaborator to depict his creatures such as snakes.  He used his studio assistants ( artists in training) to help with sections of large commissions. And, I have used Rubens as my collaborator by borrowing his drawing to serve as an animating, texturizing, spatially energizing, and historically freighted contributor as a layer to a photograph I concocted. This sampling or mashing, as musicians have called it transformed my image of figures in New York’s Grand Central Station.  The viewer fuses these disparate images into one sensation, one complex narrative.  Here is my example. We initially experience the image as one  then, try to disentangle it.  you see how the Rubens work let the contemporary figures and architecture appear to swim with a blurring complextity. In the next collaborative example I have the photo Max Dunlop and I used (photo by Max Dunlop) as our point of departure in our larger 48×72″ oil on aluminum ( see examples 2 and 3).

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