A Beautiful Mess

July 17, 2018

A couple from out of state was having a house built in an upscale Florida neighborhood called Legacy Estates, near IMG Academy in Bradenton. As the house was nearing completion, plans changed and they decided to put the house on the market.

Everyone knows it takes longer to sell an empty house, so they contracted the services of NonStop Staging. High ceilings and wide walls called for big art. The other major consideration was the black cabinetry in the open kitchen. Designer, Doshia Wagner called me to come and have a look at the house to see what kind of large art I could create for the dining area and the informal eating area. I was glad to go check it out because it always helps to see the actual rooms where art will be hung and get a feeling for the light and the needs of the space. I took some pics of the empty rooms to use as a reference.

We decided on the palette of gray, white, blues and some black.

I wanted to do something new, so I hit the internet to see what was hot in abstract art. I had never heard of fluid art before, but was totally intrigued by the idea and saw that it was very hot, indeed. I picked up some small canvases and my husband Jeff and I had some fun giving it a go. In a nutshell, you mix paint, pouring medium, water, and sometimes silicone to create the right consistency that will allow the paint to float and roll around on the canvas. It sounds easy, but truthfully requires some trial and error and experimentation to get everything right. There are several techniques out there and we are even coming up with some of our own, at this point.

The canvas for this project was 4’x5′. I got started by base coating it with a dark gray/black acrylic paint. I actually had no idea how much paint it would require to cover that size canvas with layers of liquid color, so my first attempt bombed. 20 square feet is a fairly good sized area and when you’re talking about layers of movable paint–I thought maybe a quart? Well, I way underestimated and it ended up taking me about a gallon and a half. But, it’s fun to look at the first pour with my quart jar. The paint was layered inside and it was almost full. I ended up using a squeegee to spread the spill all over the canvas as another liquid base coat, which helped in the long run.

So, after my first try failed–I didn’t have the luxury of time to figure out what to do next. I was praying and asking God to help me get this right. It was a lot like walking on water—or, more accurately, walking on paint.

I started literally pouring colors onto the canvas and layering them in different ways–then tipping the canvas this way and that. The large panel was heavy with paint and when I had it lifted up high enough to get it moving, I couldn’t see what was happening from my vantage point on the backside of the canvas. So, I just kept praying and tipping. The beautiful mess was running off of all sides and the whole thing was like a landslide or an avalanche with gray, white, blues and black going everywhere, but there was no going back and definitely no stopping.

This went on for about five hours as I periodically sprayed the paint with water and kept moving. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to take any pictures during that time. I was working alone and…well, it just wasn’t an option. I was covered with paint and it was a few days before I had clean hands and feet (I was wearing sandals at the time). I actually took a picture of my feet, but you will just have to imagine what they looked like because I’m not posting it.

Many people move south to get away from the months of awful cold during the northern winters. I have to say that is one of the big reasons I came here. In thinking about the house being staged and sold, I imagined the chances were good that the people who might buy it would be relocating, as we did many years ago. When you have struggled with pain in your joints and respiratory issues in the cold, the idea of never having to deal with any of that again sounds very attractive.

As I was guiding the paint on the canvas and seeing what it wanted to do, I imagined that what I was seeing was a fantasy landscape of melting ice. This painting would be a symbol of a turning point and a new era. Contemplation of such possibilities is what inspired me to call this piece, “Winter’s End”.

Winter’s End, 4’x5′, acrylic on canvas

For more stories about my art work, click here: https://christinacooklee.com/artwork-blog/

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