12 Aug Accident
All painting is accident.
— Francis Bacon
My small oil painting Nutella came about almost by itself and almost instantly—or at least it felt that way, coming on the heels as it did of a much larger painting entitled Yoo Hoo.
Nutella took less than two hours to paint; Yoo Hoo, nearly eight.
Slathering paint on with a spatula and spreading it about with a pallet knife reminded me the whole time I was painting of smearing fresh Nutella onto a warm slice of toast. Only the initial drawing and the lettering across the label required use of a brush.
The lesson here is that oil painting is a game of letting go, of gestures that are loose and free.
Grabbing an unopened jar of the goop off the pantry shelf and plopping it in front of the easel was an unpremeditated act.
The fact of the matter was, I had two hours of time left in a three-hour painting class (online) and—with Yoo Hoo unexpectedly finished—lacked any plan for my next painting. All I knew was that I’d be content to fill the two hours painting a subject more pleasant to paint than a tall, skinny pop bottle. The squat little jar of Nutella sitting on my panty shelf was just what the doctor ordered.
So you could accurately say Nutella came about by chance.
But what doesn’t?
Even chance comes about by chance.
Francis Bacon once told an interviewer he never painted the painting he imagined beforehand.
A painting “transforms itself by the actual paint,” he said.
“I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do.”
That’s certainly the case with Nutella.
The paint painted the painting.
The paint, for once, was decisive; was the agent, the doer of the deed.
The paint committed the crime.
The artist is innocent.
All I had in mind was toast.
Above: Nutella. Oil on fiberboard. 8 x 10 inches. Go here.