I remember taking my first Beginning Painting class years ago in art school, and hearing the phrase "mark making" for the first time. The instructor assigned as homework some drawing exercises, and mysteriously told us to bring 'something other than a paintbrush' to paint with next week. I did the drawing exercises and completely forgot about the other something, until I got to the cafeteria for my morning tea. I grabbed the most likely object, a plastic fork, which proved to be a life changing move on my part. After spending a pleasant 6 hour studio class making marks with my plastic fork, I was in love.
My work changed dramatically after that fateful day. I thanked my teacher for that, but I don't know if I thanked her enough for helping me free myself from the confines of my brushes. Thank you, Ellen Campbell, for helping me to find permission to play with my paint!
Though I love my brushes, my favorite painting implements tend to be plastic forks, ripped up newspaper, fake plastic credit cards that come in the mail, and rags. This painting is from 1997, only a few years after I began painting with forks. It is typical of my work at that time. The entire piece was 'forked'. I had it animated on my first website, very cool.
I have a friend who's also an abstract painter who came back from a trip to Rio during Carnivale and began to literally stomp on his paintings. He did a whole series of these stomped works, and they are so energetic and beautiful. They look like how he felt and what he was going through at the time.
I, like many other artists, look at other artists' work to see what they are doing, what they've come up with. I may be inspired by something another artist does, but then I change it, do it my way. I am inspired by Hockney, Richter, Bonnard, and so many others. I've had many people copy my reverse painting on vinyl, as I have looked at how others work with imagery, or color, texture. We all learn from each other. How fun is that?
But if my work isn't true to me, it won't speak to anyone, and I will be bored. Then I won't want to make it and it won't get made...so I work at doing what is mine. I love to see what other artists are doing, love going to their shows, love learning about new forms. But if I begin to compare myself to all of them, it will not be good for me and my work. So my biggest task here is to be me, and not try to be them. Seems simple, ay?
"Gold Leaves of Autumn" 1997 32"x28"