Air blown pigment is at least 17,000 years old. Anthropologists and art historians think that Paleolithic Lascaux cave painting would have been made by blowing a solution of pigment through a physiological nozzle with our cupped hands..
3400 years ago in ancient Egypt we depicted an image of water on temple walls (example 1). This work appears static next to the Lascaux imagery. The Egyptian purposes, tools and methods were designed for clarity and legibility not evoking motion. These colors and shapes were to signify water not to evoke the feeling of water.
Example 1. Egyptian wall painting, Garden of Nebamun, 1400 BCE.
By the 20th century we were well into both signifying and investing a feeling of water in stasis and motion. Artists like Andrew Wyeth liberated the accidental effects of watercolor to evoke a feeling of translucent water in a fragile pool (example 2). Here the watercolor is allowed to move freely in puddles on the paper’s surface. The effect is mesmerizing and apparently impossible to replicate because the medium is acting on its own but, subtly directed by the hand of the artist. Wyeth picks out surface and subsurface details as the watercolor stabilizes. These apparent details give a context to the otherwise meaningless patterns of mystery.
Example 2. Andrew Wyeth watercolor,
To trace the origins of my own air-blown and hand painted oil on aluminum of leaves floating over a shallow water I must take you to its serendipitous origins. In a large, shallow puddle alongside my Tahoe I noticed a curiously repeated wave pattern in the silt beneath the surface. I snapped a few photos (example 3).
Example 3. Step one: Photo of silted wave patterns below reflections in a puddle.
At last, I had stumbled across imagery that was well suited to being regenerated though the application of a hair dryer into wet oil paint. After applying an oily paint film of varying values and a limited palette and then, applying a mist of solvent I began to direct my hair-dryer (example 4). I aimed the air flow to make a “V” formation to create a receding perspective. I felt as if I were playing the electric, touchless musical instrument known as the Theremin, once a staple of horror movie soundtracks.
Example 4. Step two, after paint and blowing,
Example 5 establishes the context for the imagery in example 4 through the application of contrasting shapes with a few bright edges. These leaf shapes provide the context for guessing the meaning of the substrate, i.e. water.
Example 6 provides another example of this process. “Afloat in a Shallow Pool” is oil on white enameled laminated aluminum, Dibond.
The blown paint can be made to feel misty as seen here in example 7. The misted color effects were blown over a pre-existing work.
Please visit my new paintings on view at my solo show at the White Gallery 342 Main Street in Lakeville, Ct. The gallery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM. for other hours or an appointment tel: 860 435 1029 or visit thewhitegalleryart.com
I invite you to join me this year for Jerry’s Artarama’s tradeshow and workshops at their Art of The Carolinas in November (9th -11th) in Raleigh Durham NC. I have three workshops to offer you. My Friday workshop FR1807 is “New Affects and Ancient Sources for Painting in oil/wc/and Acrylic. My Saturday workshop SA1807 is “Nature Up Close” in oil/wc/and acrylic. My Sunday workshop SU1807 is “Cities in Motion, Bridging Realism and Abstraction”. A more fulsome description is available through Jerry’s Artarama Art of the Carolinas website. Or on daviddunlop.com. Try www.artofthecarlinas.com/all-media-workshops. Also, for the complete description of my workshops you can visit this website but, under the category of “Classes and Events” on the homepage.