My Life is a Spiral

Painting XP 397, 42" x 62", Acrylic on Canvas by JAO

My Life is a Spiral. It will turn, turn, turn.

My Day is a Circle. I will learn, learn, learn.

And so it is. I did a few speed paintings last week. I challenged myself to do them on a smaller scale so that people can buy them and actually fit them in their house. It’s not easy to speed paint small because the sponges I use make lines too thick. I cut some sponges down to the tiniest I could, and resorted to brushes for some lines. I have a pile of cheap brushes I bought from the dollar store in the late ‘80’s. They’re still good, great actually, for stabbing into the paint and swooping down onto the canvas with a confident line. Aggressive, athletic painting is still in bones.

If you want to try it at home, mix the paint so that it’s fairly fluid, but not runny. I use Golden Fluid Acrylics mixed with a bit of heavy body acrylic to thicken it up a bit. Cut up some sponges, various sizes, around 2” x 2” x 3”. I use foam from couch cushions that I found in the alley about fifteen years ago. It was -10 degrees when I found them so I figured any bugs would have died in the cold. The best way to cut soft foam is with an electric knife, ask any puppeteer.

Once I have my paint and implements ready, I push pin the canvas to the wall and open the doors of perception. Sketching, imagining, looking inside to sense the moment, I wander around my psyche searching for the truth. And then I go. The general outline of the figure happens in seconds. After that I wait a bit so that the black has a moment to skim over. The color also happens fast. Both hands paint and I barely look at the canvas. It’s more about movement. Then I go back to the black outline, thickening selectively. The eyes and nose happen with brushes. The mouth is last and is quite arguably the deciding factor in the “feeling” of the painting. It can make or break the image.

I made eleven paintings in two days. It was exhilarating.

Still into spirals though, and I find myself contemplating geometric speed paintings. That sounds mind-bendingly exciting (to me anyway).