Friday, December 1, 2017

Slapstick, an Inquiry

I've been experiencing pronounced inner turmoil in my painting practice of late. I'm hoping the situation will prove to be like occasions I remember from when my children would go into stretches of wild disequilibrium as babies and toddlers, only to suddenly pop out the other side sporting two new teeth or pulling themselves to a stand or surprising me by speaking in complete sentences.

In the interim, in the thick of my own current wild disequilibrium, what to do?

When the word slapstick bubbled up yesterday, I paid attention.

I looked it up. The definition was pretty much what I expected, and it satisfied my curiosity about the literal origin of the word.

The best part, though, was the language used to define:

boisterous action
farcical situations and jokes
broad comedy


Sounds like as good a way as any to frame a new painting inquiry!

So here's what I'm thinking—controls: slap it on, let it stick; variables: everything else.

I'll work in quick short bursts, letting boisterousness, farce, and horseplay find their way into expression without regard for outcome. Then I'll stop. No fussing, no revision, no extended time.

I'll let whatever emerges, whether little jokes or large disasters, stick, and I'll post as is.

Today, putting the above into practice, I moved along guided by impulse and intuition.

I experienced bunches of discord as well as periodic moments of flow.

I didn't 'finish' this piece—I stopped.

Here it is, as is.

Probably Out of Earshot
4x5"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and oil pastel on heavy manila stock


  1. Your new method seems to be working. Like what you see is what you get! I love it! The freshness, the bright colors. Did this start on a white sheet? Go for it, slapstick!

    1. Good question: what DID I start with?—I painted Probably Out of Earshot a week ago.

      Oh, I know. It was a painting I did in September 2014 on a piece of manila cardstock. I called it Driving Myself to Abstraction. It was an appropriation of a detail of someone else's painting which I had abstracted. I started th current painting by drawing some quick rough orbs on the card and painting all the negative space surrounding the orbs in neutrals. The original is implied inside the orbs; I wasn't liking the colors so I went over them with brighter oil pastel versions of the original colors. As I write this it sounds deliberate and perhaps time consuming but it all took place quickly and intuitively, and in the end I like it!

      Thanks for asking! And thanks for your support.

  2. "Probably Out of Earshot" is exactly my few favorite! WOW! I can see you writing an art instruction book called SLAPSTICK (and it will be a best seller!) Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!

    1. Love that this is exactly your new favorite—awesome!

      The target market for the best seller SLAPSTICK will be myself.

      Thank you for your enthusiasm! Your encouragement!

  3. Makes me think of playing in the snow, and all the marks that are left behind from the activity. You know someone(s)has been there, and you know they had fun. :)
    (Mira, (see) I am not the only one who thinks you should write a book. ;)

    1. Sheila, LOVE that you saw signs of fun activity left in the snow before we got on the scene. You have such a lovely eye for art!

      OK, OK, time to write a book, eh? THANK YOU for your ongoing votes of confidence.

  4. Hi Dotty, I love to see the wild energy in this painting, a new I don't know how you call that, a new spirit? Colourful and not too much thinking, following impulses? Love it, Dotty, keep going, and keep inquiring!

    1. Simone, very grateful for you affirming my 'wild energy' and 'new spirit,' my being 'colourful' with 'too much thinking,' and 'following impulses.' SO helpful to have the very direct support and encouragement. It's as though you've handed me a bottle of water to help me keep going : )