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Sometimes I think the most amazing piece of art I create is the studio floor. While working on paintings my brushes dribble and spatter, charcoal is ground underfoot into a fine dust and swirled into the gesso drizzle. I rarely look down at the unintentional artwork that emerges under my feet but when I do I am awestruck. It is lively, spontaneous, child like, and free. My underfoot artwork is not labored, over-thought, or heavy with a too serious intention. It is emergent, ongoing and completely without limitation.

My underfoot artwork is vital because I am not in the way.

A few nights ago I confessed that the muse possessed me and I stapled a new canvas to the wall. In a fury of gesso madness, I coated the canvas so that it might stretch and ready itself to reveal its secrets. Today I put on a second coat of gesso and also managed to cover myself with more gesso than actually made it onto the canvas. This has always been true of me: it is nearly impossible for me to put paint on anything without getting equal amounts on myself. Roger used to say that I only needed to walk within ten feet of a can of paint in order to wear half of it. Too true! During the process of painting I am never aware of my personal transformation into canvas. It is only after the fact that I discover the spatter pattern on my shirt and pants and shoes. And, today, while following the spatter trail to my feet (no shoes where involved today), my eyes went to the floor! It was glorious.

Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” When we grow up we put down our big brushes, our spontaneity, our spirit of play and pick up our little inner critic, a need to impress others with our little brilliance, and the notion that “artist” is something you do. Adults forget that artistry is essentially curiosity in relationship with a moment. “Artist” is not a role, it is a way of being. What happens when you smear the paint simple to feel the smear, tear the paper for the sound, use vibrant orange to paint the broccoli tree against a purple streak that might be an indication of sky – or deep joy made manifest with the swipe of a brush. Every child knows that joy is purple today and another color tomorrow.

My underfoot artwork, now showing on the studio floor gallery, is the work of the inner child, the real artist. All of the critics say his work is vibrant, free, and alive. The artist is not concerned with the critics’ interpretation because he was distracted by the sun, left his brush unattended on the table, and went outside to swing. All the world is his studio and swinging is, after all, real work of the serious artist.

2 Responses

  1. Your painting sounds like my cooking.

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