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Just for Fun? – by Robert Genn

Just for Fun?
by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Grey Darden of Valley Head, West Virginia wrote, "Do you ever just fool around experimenting with your paints, paper and tools? Just for fun? Not trying to stay on style? Would you ever ask subscribers if they might show their experimental work on the Painter's Keys site? Does anybody take time out for fun stuff?"

Thanks, Grey. I have to admit to a particular deviation. Let me explain. Anyone familiar with the miracle of acrylic has tried throwing in texture-enhancing items like muslin, doilies and leaves. Things I haven't resisted include confetti, streamers and sparkle. My sparkle period lasted a full summer. While it added body and a crumbly texture and seemed like a good idea at the time, it also added an undesirable tartiness, like a girl with "George" tattooed across her front, especially when your name isn't George. I didn't feel guilty. The misguided nature of my sorties is not to be disparaged. For an artist, play is both necessary and unavoidable. Unlike the girl's tattoo, creative play doesn't have to be permanent.

Other items I've added to my acrylics include spaghetti, tortellini, vermicelli, the internal workings of clocks, radios, cameras, toys, nuts, screws, nails, bones, shells, pebbles, sand, bark mulch, crockery, springs, bathroom and toilet implements, human prosthetics, cellphone parts, computer motherboards, old automobile accessories and vintage engine parts. It's inexcusable, I know, but I can't help it. Maybe I've got a bad gene.

FYI, acrylics lock down this sort of stuff in perpetuity and seal away the bugs that eat the biodegradable bits. Practically all the "great ones" have mentioned the value of play.

"Play is the exultation of the possible," said Martin Buber. "Play is the essential feature in productive thought," said Albert Einstein. The American conceptual artist and minimalist Sol LeWitt declared, "Your work isn't a high stakes, nail-biting professional challenge. It's a form of play.

Lighten up and have fun with it." Using the above authorities as backup, I'm sticking to my deviation. By the way, nail-bitings go nicely into acrylics too. Anyway, don't say anything about this. I pretty well keep these things between me and my counselor. But if you feel you want to share your own ideas of fun and games, please do.

Best regards,


PS: "Whoever wants to understand much must play much." (Gottfried Benn)

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his twice-weekly newsletter, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com

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