Lazy Art

Time to Jet: Paints Packed for Copenhagen

This weekend I’m heading to 1 Day of Art in Copenhagen and I’m sort of freaking out. To recap, I won the 1 Day of Art Creative Invite offered on Talenthouse, sponsored by (t)here magazine and Hotel Fox. The point of the adventure is to create a body of art in 24 hours for the magazine. There are only a few things I know for sure, floating around in my conscious brain, I have a flight to Copenhagen and a confirmation at Hotel Fox, all else is basically a mystery. When I asked what I should bring along, I was informed,

“bring what you need to create.  camera. paint spray paint glue  sticky notes paper sketch books”

Naturally I have most of these things on hand, but shopping for paints is ten time more fun than shopping for shoes, so I headed to the stores to pick up some paints and accessories for the trip, but now my heads are filled with adrenaline and sort of freaking out. You can’t think too much here, because you don’t know what’s coming. What will the Assignment be? We must prepare ourselves for anything, the future is a blank page and I’m walking into it with a curious anticipation I’ve never felt before. I have no game plan when it comes to art. I like the moment of creation to be unconnected from planning and science. I don’t plan out paintings, I don’t imagine how colors should connect with shapes, I just let myself fall into a trance state and let it all flow out. So it’s sort of hard to know what to take along. However, I’ve accepted the flight ticket and will now enjoy the ride.

My take-with list includes:

  • Various tubes of latex paint, rollers, sponge brushes
  • Paint and Manga markers
  • Sony A900, Sony F58 flashes, Orbis ring flash adapter
  • A head full of nervous anticipation

I don’t want to come off as a kindergarten-hack painter in Copenhagen, but I guess the best way to deal with these emotional insecurities is with a healthy cocktail of unearned confidence and a generous quantity of “just be yourself.” I was picked based on the Lazy Art I submitted, so logically I just have to do what I was doing before, and resist the urge to rewatch Basquiat and attempt to play myself off as some nouveau uber-awesome creative artist, because at the end of the day, I’m nothing more glamorous than a Doktor of Science. I should be prepared for anything. However, the airline has a baggage limit, and you’re always improvising with what you have anyways, no matter how much stuff you bring along to an event or setup in a laboratory. Whatever I create at 1 Day of Art it’ll probably have some elements of illustration, painting (color throwing) and writing. I can’t really separate these things, they all come up in the process and it seems like a natural thing to combine  them all. I’m uber excited to see what happens in Copenhagen, a city I’ve never been to and an environment I’ve never experienced before, it’s primed to be an awesome time and I’m still in awe that it’s happening.

Lazy Art IV

Lazy Art IV (my last painting) is a combination abstract splatter and writing I did one fine Sunday this summer instead of heading to Art Basel. I like the chaos of colors mixed with the consusion of words, so I tapped off a few areas and added text I had worked up while brainstorming about the ArtMord concept. KusntDeath is sort of a mix of themes from Fight Club and Jean-Michel Basquiat with a little Hunter S. Thompson and Beethoven thrown into the mix. It’s a 1x1m canvas and done on the cheap with latex paints and sponge brushes and a roller. Don’t ask me technical questions like what texture I used or the philosophy behind my brush strokes, because I’m the last person to anything about such topics. I paint because something is unhinged inside my head and some comfort comes from mixing random colors together. I would like to be one of those methodic painters who looks for the perfect color, mixes their own paints and has a vision in mind before putting brush to canvas, but that’s not what I’m into at the moment. My painting style is born of sketching in math class and manipulating colors and tones in Photoshop to mimic the feeling of graffiti I see on the streets of Berlin, Zurich, and Detroit.

The Process

At one time when I started experimenting with painting I had the idea to sketch out and color the painting concepts with manga markers. This failed horribly because without the large canvas in front of me I just don’t have the drive to create that sort of color and structure combinations that sort of explode from my brain when actually painting. Still, it’s nice to experiment, so this time I had a large sketch/art book with me and I used it to try out the roller and paint splatters alongside painting the actual canvas. This worked out extremely well, because I had the freedom to quickly try some color combinations and then jump back to the canvas and go crazy. Like always, I was painting in the “winter garden” room of my apartment. Plastic lined the floor and walls and I had near-total freedom to throw paint around without the worry of needing to repaint my white walls later on. I guess I could also easily dispose of a body with a turkey cutter a-la that scene in Snatch like a London gangster. But I’m a calm and non-violent person, so I’ll stick to throwing paint. Blood splatters don’t interest me.

The Fear

I’d like to be clear on this point, I love painting large canvases with random colors for the experience. I liken it to multi-pitch sport climbing routes, writing, or to mountaineering. I like starting with a blank page, and being scared that it will look worse when I’m finished. It’s like looking up a long rock ridge and your mind telling you to turn back. It urges you to return to the false safety of organized society and sends fear waves up your spine as you jump over crevasse openings. Ignore the fear, that premonition of failure and demise. It’s just your natural response to doing something dangerous, either in the world or in your mind. I don’t think of conquering fear, I like to walk along side it like old friends. We trade words back and forth before I jump off the platform of a rope park or let my feet dance over the edge of rock ridges.

I like to stand above a blank canvas and ponder the next step. The mind tells me to not even start, exit the room and go back to my computer and watch something on MTV. I say, “fuck you, I’ll take my chances.” Fear is a suggestion, something built into the DNA to protect foolish people from hurting themselves physically or emotionally. Don’t take it too seriously. The fear crops up in many places and sometimes unannounced. It might be there when you ask a girl out, do a presentation, climb a new route, jump out of a plane, apply for a new job or walk into a room full of people you’ve never met before. I paint because of the desire for a little adrenaline rush on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or just to see what come from it. Why did you take the picture? Becasue I wanted to see what it would look like.

ArtCast Painting – Lazy Art III

lazy_art_iiiMy experiments in Lazy Art paintings and ArtCasting are continuing (the first being Lazy Art II), we’ll call this one Lazy Art III. for the ArtCast I used more music from Kevin Mcleod, an original lazy artist would have picked something besides the Danse Macabre, but to be honest it’s the type of music with those specific rythems which play in my head, and moves in perfect time with my emotions, perfectly describing the mood in my head when I start mixing paint and get ready for an episode of splattering a nice boring white canvas with color. So, from a documentary perspectives, it seeme like I should maintain that authenticity for the audience. This piece of Lazy Art has influences from Zurich Graffiti, specifically the combination of abstract flow set against bits of rectangular geometry. The geometric patterns were planned to a certain extent, I put down some tape and then removed it before the final splatter fest. Amazingly, the ceiling of my apartment is not covered with small dots of green, red, and matte gold.

As a Photoshop-trained painter, I’m still slightly annoyed at the idea that I can’t add a levels and curves adjustment layer set to my Lazy Art while painting. My eyes naturally want to start adding a bit of smart sharpening, push the overall exposure, and increase the dark tone levels to get the colors my mind wants to see. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. I do these manipulations on the final image take with my Minolta 7D and Sony macro lens. I do some adjustments in Photoshop, then tweak the final exposure in Adobe Lightroom before exporting to Flickr. Is the painting the final product, or simply a template? The next step is to rent a Sony A900 and photograph my Lazy Art experiments with my 50mm tack-sharp macro lens. Then I’ll have a nice 24 megapixel image with fantastic sharpness and dynamic range to work with. From there I’ll have total control over color, saturation, and sharpness, but with the basic chaos of abstract painting. Printing would naturally be done on canvas or Hahnemühle German Etching Paper. Does this kill the idea of a real painting? The type where everything is done on the canvas, you know, like in real photography where everything is done in-camera without post-processing manipulation? Fortunately, I could care less what it means. I hunt colors and abstract images in my head and on the streets I walk in the world. The process of getting the perfect abstract shape-color combination is irrelevant.

Artcast Experiment – Lazy Art II

Lazy_Art_III love photography, I love Photoshop, I love the freedom to create and define a vision from my head. But there’s always that separation, that feeling of disconnection between the tool (cameras, lenses, lights, computers) and the vision (the one from my head). So it was logical step to say, screw it one day. At a shop in Zurich I found 1 x 1 meter square canvases and at the home improvement store I found latex paint for less than 7 CHF per 500 ml. I few more franks went to brushes and plastic to cover a room of my Winterthur apartment and protect my security deposit. I traded my Wacom tablet and Photoshop for the ability to splatter paint as I pleased without the “undo” button.

Music stopped in the background and I realized why artists go mad…because, what’s more frustrating than painting a black stroke when in your head you know it should’ve been green? NOTHING! Nothing compares to the idea that you start with a pure white nothingness and from nothing, without barely a forethought or premonition comes, something. That something is undefined and unknowable and abstract and everything that a fool can hope for when the mind is empty.

I documented the evolution of my Lazy Art with my Minolta 7D and a Sony 50mm macro lens. Lighting provided via a Sunpak 383 in a small Alzo softbox. The result is an Artcast, an experiment in communicating and showing the evolution of the vision from the first to last color addition. Music brings the madness, and this addition seemed appropriate.