Who has not been enthralled by textures and surfaces? From an airplane window, we marvel at the dendritic patterns of streams and rivers forming wrinkled hills, great alluvial fans streaming from mountain into desert, the rolling rhythm of basin and range, and the strange black mass rising from the ochre-and calcium-rich wastelands somewhere in the arid west.
At the edge of the ocean, we are drawn to the time-worn cracks in a basalt boulder, those ephemeral waves of sand and cloud, the trickles and swirls of reflective water. On a deserted street, the decrepit walls of the old buildings seduce us: bony wood meets rusted bolts meet veiny artifacts of tile and the flaking mortar beneath. We run our hands over bone and bark, stucco and oxidized steel, absorbing the changes from smooth concave to rough edge. We bear witness to the great power of wind, water, heat, and time, in the transformation of what appears immutably solid.
What fun then, to discover the tactile pleasure of texture-making, a return to the mud. The surfaces begin with board, are layered with gesso and other media, then eroded through scraping and sanding. There’s lots of play and exploration, intention and random revelation. Certain motifs repeat: circles, bony fans, drifts, knots and puddles. Others just show up. The resulting surfaces provide intriguing possibilities for abstract and figurative painting.
Sometimes a painting works, sometimes not. I have taken a destructive hand to a few unsuccessful pieces, exposing new “bones” and patterns. some suggested repainting, others demanded to be left alone, to reveal what lies beneath.