Digitized Brushstroke Collages

Abstract art is so alluring, but also daunting. The greats make it look easy (Diebenkorn, Rothko, Mitchell), but the reality is that it is so much easier to make a lot of crap. Yet I keep getting drawn to making it. Not sure why.

Lately I’ve been making these digitized brushstroke collages. It started out about six years ago when I discovered James Nares. When I find art that I really like, the impulse is to replicate it. What is the process? How did they do it? It’s like solving a puzzle.

At the time that I discovered Nares’ gorgeous brushstroke paintings I was stuck in my life; staying home raising kids. I had no job, no autonomy. It felt … not great. I began the process of trying to recreate his paintings, digitally, with nothing but simple craft and paint supplies, and some iPad apps. And my mood turned around.

For me it created a feeling of expansion; a notion that things were in my reach. Nothing much came of it though. I tried to recreate the brushstrokes at a resolution that was big enough to print but I eventually gave up.

The beauty is that when I rediscovered the images years later, they became a new source of inspiration. Even though I labeled them “crap,” they still contained the feeling of expansiveness, and the possibility of taking something small and blowing it up. The crap you made ten years ago can turn into the sweet stuff you make today. That’s why I save everything, and have a ridiculous amount of images in my library.

These digital collages feel like the best of both worlds – the sensuality of getting out the paints and making marks on a surface – the smells, the way it feels, the physicality of it; followed by the control and unlimited possibilities of digitization. And one perfect brushstroke or mark can be used over and over again. I’m still not sure if it’s crap. But I enjoy the process and that’s what counts.