Friday, May 6, 2011
Here's an abstract painting I painted. In part. Burdened with a mind that best grasps the concrete, I've never known how to approach creating an abstract painting. I like abstract paintings pretty well, although they aren't my very favorites. I've seen some I absolutely loved, but it would be difficult for me to figure out exactly why I love them. I attempted to convince Sam Kitamura to demonstrate his process, but he was bent on making me paint. So we switched off. He laid in some bold lines. I played with water and tentatively dabbed in some color. He painted some more. Then I painted some, adding some final touches with Sam's advice. He told me to sign it. This isn't exactly my signature; it's closer to how I sign checks than paintings. I learned a couple of things. An abstract has structure; well of course it does. It's a thing; it's concrete; it's part of the world. Possibly a wholly new creation. Color changes everything, especially the color it sits next to. I still wouldn't know where to begin.
Before the abstract, I painted the Los Angeles River. The painting is inadvertently abstract, and not very good. The L.A. River is one of a strange city's quirkiest features. It's mostly cement lined, extremely trash filled, and almost always a laughable trickle. But periodically it swells up to thirty feet and rushes to the ocean, taking a life or two on the way. There's an ambitious plan underway to restore the river to a more natural state. Boulders have been added, trees grow, and the water birds are abundant and varied. Last weekend as I painted, a volunteer workforce of hundreds pulled junk out of the river. With the care and persistence of people like those, it will be a real river again some day. Fish and all. My father used to catch crawdads in the Los Angeles River.