Explaining the process of painting.
Live painting performances explain the process and passion of painting. I think that is important for three reasons. First… nowadays many people have little or no understanding of contemporary art. Live painting leaps that gap because the viewer experiences the process so can relate to the artist’s skill and effort. A common aspect of Koranic and Zen calligraphy is the Calligraphers heightened state of concentration which also becomes clear when painting publicly. Second … I believe it is important to bring the production of art directly to the viewer because in our consumer society supply chains are so long that they separate people from the time, effort, creativity and complexity which goes into the creation of the products we use. Live painting brings it close again. Third… society is changing so quickly due to the pressure of competition and technology that many people are caught in the mouse wheel of constant change, constantly running to keep up, and never reaching mastery in any area. Live painting demonstrates mastery and sets an example of what is possible given time, effort and focus.
When painting in discos and music festivals I use my brush and ink similar to a musical instrument. My paintings are visual rhythm. Painting live tells the story of how I paint, and expresses my concentration and the fun I have painting. When I paint I slip into the ‘groove’… a place where painting flows. I believe that all people know how to enter the groove. For many people this is when they dance, or play music. Painting in Discos and at Music Festivals reaches out to people like musicians do.
I was live painting in Valencia, Spain in the front window of the Kir Royal Art Gallery. I painted for 77 hours over a period of 5 days. There was a building site opposite the gallery. Towards the end of my performance, over the last two days, the builders began walking over the road for their various breaks to watch me paint. We never spoke (we didn’t share a common language) however when they caught my eye I was greeted with broad smiles and thumbs up signs. They were loving the art… normally they would have almost nothing to do with contemporary art. Live painting bridged that gap. They could see; passion, dedication, craftsmanship, focus, skill… and they respected it, and enjoyed it.
I was live painting on ship on the Danube River. My painting area partially blocked the door to the Boson’s cabin. The Boson was a tough old sailor with gout and an equally foul temper… he was not pleased to have some weird artist blocking his door. However he was ordered to leave me alone. After three days of intense painting our relationship changed. He loved my work because he could appreciate the time and effort that went into it, something that made sense to a blue collar worker… he pronounced his dismay about contemporary art, but proclaimed that I was a ‘a real artist’… and he began protecting me by shooing viewers away if they got to close, or dared interrupt the artist at work! I was deeply honoured and very touched to have earned such respect from a man who had nothing to do with contemporary art.