Earl Grenville Killeen
Art is what got me through a stress-filled childhood and a dislocated youth. From an early age, my most treasured resources were the books of artworks that I pored over, figuring out – by a process of dissecting and digesting – how colors, textures, values, and composition work, and learning how to put my understandings into practice by continually working at it and making mistakes.
Mistakes, I came to appreciate, are great teachers of what doesn’t work, of patience and perseverance and anger management (like, how many times can you throw a work-in-progress across the studio before thinking: maybe there’s a better way . . . ), but also how mistakes can reveal themselves to be new techniques.
For example, my exasperation with frisket’s penchant for picking up and randomly depositing bits and speckles of not-quite-dry-enough paint gave way to a realization that my painting was left with a surface texture that I could not purposely create with a brush. Now I invite the frisket to do its thing.
Using a small power sander in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a botched watercolor by removing overworked layers of paint, I discovered – and have come to rely on -- the sander’s facility to amalgamate and burnish colors, as well as to reveal glimpses of under-layers.
Another experiment in texturing involves spreading beach sand over a painting’s surface, spraying it with water, and scraping it off with a palette knife when dry. The results of these techniques share an element of potential surprise.
It’s nice that making art, even after seventy, is still an adventure.
Another part of this adventure – especially, to my happy surprise, in recent years – has been the opportunity to be connected to so many creative and supportive people, whether in venues that I can attend physically, or in the virtual meeting places online. While nothing beats seeing the actual works, and artists and viewers, in a gallery setting, I’m very much enjoying my virtual walks through online exhibits and my daily scrolls through Instagram, viewing art and exchanging comments and encouragement. These encounters are a wonderful source of involvement and inspiration.
At the same time, I believe that, to be an artist, you have to be a visionary; to be a visionary, you have to ignore other people’s versions of vision.