Monday, August 18, 2008

Kate Beck On Chance

Do I make paintings of chance, or by chance, accidental by nature, happening unexpectedly without intention or plan, or is it simply a question of fate that the work exists at all? These can be tough questions, especially for we who make pictures of nothing…. Questions that I try to keep outside of my consciousness within the studio, and within my personal being. But the thoughts still do creep in.

Creating abstract oil paintings of size is an undertaking. They are expensive to make – materials enough to fill 35 square feet or so of surface costs quite a lot; having a large enough space to make them in costs quite a lot; having room in my life to execute this endeavor knowing that I may fail or never recoup my investment, costs quite a lot. I am 5’ 3 1/2” tall. I don’t work with two feet squarely on the floor. I have to be strong and agile and open to the possibility of physical risk either to myself or to the painting surface – and believe me, it all happens in the studio. Finally, unknowing open opinion doesn’t get it. It wants me to explain what I am making and how I am making it and why I am making. And I cannot. But I know there is more than happenstance going on. My work is not an unexpected happening. I see it coming.

My technique requires a constant attention to process. My process is very physical in nature and because I am apt to move quickly during a pour or drawing – mostly due to the manipulation of the materials – it allows me to override my mental impulses and move beyond the intellectual intention. I have found this to be truly critical to creating a credible result. I certainly don’t approach a large surface cold, without any premeditation at all. My color studies are always done beforehand. But sometimes that’s it. I trust that I have learned experience within me, in my brain and in my body, and I let that intuition guide me. Easier said than done. Accidents do happen, but I try to be careful in my preparedness so that unhappy accidents occur as infrequently as possible. It is a balance between letting go and adhering to reliable principles and methodologies which I have found to be tried and true. Anything that happens from that perspective is more natural in flow which ultimately brings me closer to the surface and the final painting. There has to be room for me. The trick is to know when to pull away; close the eyes, let go of the work. It has taken me a long time to build confidence in my process. I guess so far, so good. Probably.

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