“Automatic Writing”

I’ve been doing a lot of collage and hard-edged painting, but recently I tried working more “organically.” I had been working in a way that triggered some anxiety in me; I would obsess over every placement, and it sometimes took me a week to decide on the position of one piece of paper.

Anyway, I’ve figured out a way to work that feels almost like “automatic writing,” a way that curtails my need to obsess. Yet, this manner of working requires some minimal constraints. I just decide on one or two contextual rules – pick a color scheme beforehand, stick to it, then just put a line or shape/color on the canvas or panel, and allow it to evolve/morph into the next shape/color (working with rules can be fun; I’m thinking of Oulipo, for an example, from experimental poetry). I think this process can also work for collage, if I can decide on some elements beforehand, like color scheme, limited categories of paper/paint, types of gestures, etc.

Working with a straight-edge and/or tape just makes me finicky, for some reason. I won’t give up on them, but sometimes I need more of a sense of flow, and those tools — or perhaps the way I’ve been using them, or regarding them — tend to block me, cognitively.

So far, I’ve tried this new way on two paintings, and was able to relax and enjoy the process more — and also work pretty fast; much more rewarding, and with results that surprise me; always a plus. It’s not surprising that writing influences my art in this way. I’m still a writer as well as an artist. Looking forward to exploring this mode of working in the future.