Fortuitous Finds

One of the things I’ve come to love about how I make art is that sometimes I am working and don’t just end up with a single piece, but several, out of the same start to finish working project. Working with computer software as a toolset makes it possible, because at every point one can pause with a project and start working from an identical, cloned copy of the work. Using an exploratory process that’s often improvised at the beginning or throughout also means I’m frequently likely to discover something just as I make it.

One such example is today. Sitting at home on my couch and nursing a bad cold, with Addy (the resident cat, or “house panther”) opting to spend some quality time with me (resulting in one of the titles), I decided that if I was going to be kept awake by occasional kneading I was going to paint.


“Echo” vaguely resembles sound charts I sometimes work with. Not precisely, but it has the same color scheme. It’s how I started. One forced point of pause, I often start working with one piece of software and flip it to another, because I want to access different tool-sets and techniques at different times. Sometimes I like the intermediate result enough to keep. I’m keeping this one.


“Purr” is just me taking “Echo” and manipulating it nine different ways. (That… could be a made up number but I think it actually was literally nine different ways.) It’s a bit more like my usual work of late. It’s titled what it is to give my cat her due in inspiring me to work, and partly because it’s a bit how the painting strikes me — somewhere between soothing and magic.

“shattered shard” (B&W)

“Shattered shard” was the outcome of me trying to embellish what was above for about an hour and not really succeeding the way I wanted to, but noticing that what I arrived at was its own thing. If you started with “purr” and took a black and white photo of a mural size print of it, with it at one end of a mirrored fun house that has been shattered by a nearby handy apocalypse and then stocked with piles of prisms, and the camera at the other end, that’s roughly what happened to start with. Then you paint all of that onto a bunch of glass and take a slow shutter photo of you smashing it all to pieces. (It’s surprisingly easy to do and much less hazardous with the right set of digital image tools, and though it takes a while it still takes much less time and requires less cash.)

“shattered shard” (color)

The final step was just taking what I’d been trying to embellish and instead using it as a simple way to embellish the image I’d just come up with. The color version of “shattered shard” superimposes the color from “purr” as an overlay. It’s a bit less dramatic and different than the black and white version, but to me looks satisfyingly like a freeze frame from a special effects scene gone mad with power. It’s either an inspiring cosmic image from the dawn of time or just a regular old random freeze frame from a Saturday morning cartoon just as today’s heroine busts out a special move. Possibly both. In any event, I fell in love with it much more than what I was trying to do the other way around.

And after I was done, I realized I had not one painting on my hands but four. Which is a pretty nice outcome. It’s not the rule when I work, but it happens often enough to keep me coming back to it.


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