Of course I don't really mean "wrecking" them. I mean what Susan Sontag refers to when she says that "scrofulous, tarnished, stained, cracked, faded [photographs] still look good; do often look better." I want the painted surface to reflect something of the experience of it's making--it's time. I want to subvert the illusion of representation even as I struggle with all my abilities to render an accurate, well measured and proportioned image.
So here's another way I wreck my paintings: I take a flexible rubber-like scraper and draw it through the painting to get unexpected and sometimes interesting patterns and blending of colors. I usually can't work up the nerve to do this until I've decided the painting is a complete and utter disaster. Then I can cut loose and scrape away. Here are two examples of that--the first a smaller 12" x 16" canvas and the second a larger 30" x 40" work:
As a painter I have so many strategies for "tarnishing" the image on the canvas. I find nothing more tedious that a painting that leaves nothing for the eye to do. It's like a child pounding on the piano keys, as if getting all the notes were the only challenge to making music.
So I routinely wreck my paintings in order to save them from a worse fate. I spread turpentine on them, I scrape them, I rub them, I brush them--sometimes I throw things at them. They're almost always better as a result.
Here's one of my current favorite strategies which simply involves taking a dry brush and raking the wet paint. Gerhard Richter does this all the time and puts the results in the Museum of Modern Art.
"It is when people are at peace, content, full, that they are most likely to meet my expectation, selfish, no doubt, that they be a generous, joyous, even entertaining experience for me. I believe people exist to be enjoyed, much as a restful or engaging view might be. As the ocean or drifting clouds might be. Or as if they were the human equivalent of melons, mangoes or any other kind of attractive, seductive fruit.
When I am in the presence of other human beings I want to revel in their creative and intellectual fullness, their uninhibited social warmth. I want their precious human radiance to wrap me in light. I do not want fear or war or starvation or bodily mutilation to steal both my pleasure in them and their own birthright.
Everything I would like other people to be for me, I want to be for them."
These studio notes are scraps of poetry and ideas that feed my work as a painter. I hope they establish a bit of context for the paintings and my intention in making them. Whatever I paint, I’m trying to create some space for us to sit with the questions that are not meant to be answered.