At some point a couple years ago I started cutting shapes out of masonite and making them into paintings or whatever it is they are. As usual I was groping around, trying to find a way forward. I wanted to break away from some of the assumptions which influenced my paintings for some years.
In several cases I used the jigsaw freehand without a drawing for the blade to follow. Well, that’s not quite true. I was making little ballpoint pen thumbnails in a small lined Moleskin. They said, make a work incorporating this gesture, or here’s a form – what happens if its allowed to dominate. Cutting is drawing. Painting is thinking. I never plan too much in the studio. When I do, I start undermining all my own plans once I get paint on my hands. I had an idea about starting with a shape that had nothing whatever to do with a rectangular picture plane. I wasn’t sure if the painting would follow that form or become a kind of counterpoint to it.
I’m happiest in the studio when I make works which reside on the very edge of my understanding, when I look at them and think, what the Hell? When they bring about more questions than answers. I confess I admire painters who plan everything, do preliminary drawings and so on. I remember visiting Ron Bloore’s studio one day many years ago. He had a drawing up, a pencil drawing, and he had made notes on it as to which white was going where. He planned out so many aspects of the final work, even though everything changed by necessity on the larger scale. I guess for him the magic lay somewhere in the transformation from the drawing to the painting.
When I do drawings in the context of paintings (as opposed to drawings because I want to make drawings), they are usually scratched out on a scrap of paper or in a little notebook in my own oddball shorthand, something to remind me of the what was going through my brain at the time.
This group of works did not mark the first time I messed with shaped paintings. I’ve messed with tondos a number of times over the years. Then there were the group of paintings I made on broken up chunks of a strange ground which I can only describe as aluminum foam. Underground. I suppose sometimes I get restless with the rectangle.