Assignment 5 update

To be honest, I have got Lost in my work. I have been working with how different colours and types of enamel paint (work together or not work together) flow together, how fast they move along different surfaces and the quantity of paint needed to get a formation of paint that is dripable. The process has been very technical and absorbing, I have had to work in depth with a new medium in a dense space of time. Luckily the paint can dry much faster than Oil paint. This has caused variations in perception as the paint tends to crack if not enough oil mixed or to much oil . This cracked surface is interesting in itself so trying to recreate this again has been difficult. The variables and uncontrollably associated with using Enamel paint enforce a culture of accepting the inevitable, tolerating the accidents or as Pollock (1912-1956) said in his interview with William Wright in 1950.” …with experience-it seems to be possible to control the flow of the paint, to a great extent, and I don’t use – I don’t use the accident- cause I deny the accident.” Harrison and Wood. pg 585.

“Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement”POLLOCK p.586

The statement that I am making with this new found technique is of ‘letting go’ and ‘being free’ to work with the paint. In my earlier work I can see my battles with ;being restricted to paint a representation of nature, my environment as a subject and  following the classical tradition of obligation to the standards of painting. My statement is not about expressing my feelings in the form of Enamel Paint. I used my experience of the familiar surroundings of the Park to decided on what colours to pour onto the canvas as a way of transcribing the composition of the park. My technique is deconstructing previous paintings ( the more traditional compositions) of the park to simplified shapes of trees, lumps of park land and distant perspectives. I then decided what colours to add together and how much paint to use of each colour before poring it onto the canvas. Then I would wait to see the paints marble around each other and decide to move the canvas so to affect the marbling of the paint to allow more patterns to appear or start moving it directly with a cotton wool bud stick and dragging the paint to where I wanted it to go.

Before I worked on a canvas I did tester panel’s, These have been a fantastic resource and I return to them frequently when mixing the enamel paints. These panels also have other things stuck to the surface to analysis the reaction the paint has with textured grounds.

I had spent a few weeks mixing paint and experimenting with different grounds such as shaving foam, Grass, pva and sand, but felt I needed to focus on the completion of the immediate assignment. I stopped working with paint and started reading and taking notes which was a reinforcement of the experience of my practice. From my readings of Clement Greenberg(1909-1994), and Harold Rosenberg(1906-1978) I have realised the following;

  • The American action painters correlated with American politics at the time. The power granted to American after the 2 world wars was knowledgable world wide. The connotation value the Americans exchanged was ‘larger than life’, bold and liberalising. Similar values to the Abstract movement where artists were liberated  and free from traditional aesthetic values.
  • This Post war condition became a culture. Avant-gardism was about ideas, a subject matter, not content and not just creating vessels of communication.  Greenberg writes that Courbet is called the first avant-gardian  and Manet is responsible for the spectators attention given to the problems of the medium ; paint.
  • The concept of the arts intertwined with one another; for example the Impressionist suggested their images were like listening to Romantic music. Greenberg asks…, “Since art was the only validity left, what better subject was there for each art than the procedures and effects of some other art?”  The individual and the social. p. 563-568.
  • Music is a sensory experience, it conveys mood, it can be abstract of meaning and pure in form. “But the other arts can be also sensuous if only they will look to music, not to ape its effects but to borrow its principles as a ‘pure art’, as an art which is abstract because it is almost nothing else except sensuous.” Green berg p.565. The word ‘Ape’ is relating to others words , such as mimic, copy, impersonating.
  • The status of ‘pure art’ is a confusion as to prove purity we direct ourselves towards something primitive, childish and something less detailed. This is a process of differentiating and a way of becoming objective or taking sides. Greenberg wrote…”To prove that their concept of purity is something more than a bias in taste, painters point to Oriental, Primitive and children’s art as instances of the universality and naturalness and objectivity of their ideal of purity…” p.566 Picasso has a well known quote -‘ every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’
  • The impact of Abstract art is the explanation for its superiority, The historic point where art moved away from traditional naturalisation to form abstract, its conjunction is justified.
  • Pollock says in his interview p.583 that…”My opinion is that new needs need new techniques, and the modern artist have found new ways and new means of making their statements.” he later adds that modern day artist are living in an age of mechanical reproductions where nature can be captured by cameras, so the new work is about expressing an inner world, energy and the motion of other forces. The classic artist represented the world around them. The Modern artist is representing the effects of the world around them. The visual language it the same, the medium and technique has changed, But they were both expressing themselves.
  • Pollock works directly, no preliminary drawings, drawing is a direct practice.
  • A point made by Greenberg ;about abstract work within a square frame has a tendency to be seen more abstract as its not a realistic shape, interested me as much of my assignments were painted on square formats. On reflection I wonder if I knew subconsciously that I was working towards abstraction?


  • A final Quote from a book I have been reading about the capitalist markets and the  devastating effect they have on climate change. “In the experience ( the call centre business) of a system that is unresponsive, impersonal, centreless, abstract and fragmentary, you are as close as you can be to confronting the artificial stupidity of capital in itself.” Mark Fisher .p.64. The reason I mentioned this quote is that Greenberg asks in his essay that we have to assimilate abstract art and fight our way through it as to return to representation would be a disaster for painters. The message is that there is no way back (from a capitalist society and from abstract expressionism), we have to move forward into the unknown. This is my statement, Letting go of capitalist reform (work/job for jobs sake) and naturalisation representation in paint (art for arts sake). I have found this painting technique so valuable and I find myself wanting to surround myself with more of these paintings. They have petrified into valuable possessions, they make up for the loss of wealth which comes with being a full time student. 

Tester Panel



Capitalist Realism, Is there no alternative? by Mark Fisher. O BOOKS publishing 2009 Hants UK

Art in Theory 1900-2000. An anthology of changing ideas. Edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Blackwell Publishing 2003. Oxford UK.




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