Thursday, December 11, 2008

TOUGH CALL by Charlie Spear

TOUGH CALL by Charlie Spear

This is going to be a tough call. I have three cans of spray paint, a jar of acrylic gel, four tile spacers and a canvas panel 18x24. I am thinking of an abstraction. Shadows from coat hangers on the back wall of my lighted closet have caught my attention the last few days. The voices start the minute I reach for the canvas panel and prop it in front of me on the paint covered 1950’s Formica gray kitchen table.

The whole four years in art school diatribe comes back to me…What is art? What about composition? Who do you think you are to have something worth saying? I know. Still, I have been in love with the process of making art since I started drawing in the first or second grade. It was more fun then. The teacher would give us a few simple instructions about whatever we were doing in class in English and the rest was pure ZONE. When I was done I liked ‘What’ I saw. That was it.

Now, I am an artist and still an art teacher and most of the joy has been squelched from the process of expression by The Art World. Marketing is the focus and Money the goal. I pick up the spray can of Krylon Safety yellow and start letting the paint run down the canvas from staying in one place too long. I like the smell and the liquidity of the yellow street crossing color.

This is what I remember. That feeling of experiment and what now takes me away from the sound of voices. Something of an ethereal feeling fills my mind. Industrial Blue enamel jets out of the nozzle causing a rich green to appear at the edges of the spray thrust. Again the liquid runs like rain on the canvas onto the table and puddles. Quickly before it dries I am scooping out the gel and pushing it onto the surface.

The two mediums can’t mix but still stay on the panel like unyielding neighbors over a driveway easement. The gel peaks from the pull away from my palm. The smell is memorial. I have liked the smell of acrylic from the first can of paint my dad bought for the bedroom, Lucite brand. Smells are the most primeval sensory memories.

The four tile spacers need to be included. I have the last can of Farmall red from Rural King. I point and soak the four spacers in that Garden of Eden red. I sling them onto the canvas in a random but perfect placement. More gel coats over them while they float listlessly in the clear viscous goo. The idea of the coat hanger shadows comes out of nowhere. Yes, the shadows. There are a slew of them hanging from a gas pipe by the washer. Five or six should be enough. I lay them on the canvas allowing for an accidental placement to occur by hitting the stretcher.

More red flows from the wire shapes and drips into crevices of gel. With one hand I wipe the red away from the surface holding the hangers down with the other hand. Several swipes pull the red into a gradual softening mottled pattern. One last offering of Safety yellow softens the red into a Crayola orange-red. Done.

The piece is hanging in my living room over a library table. I look at it now and then. Some new ideas are forming like small wisps of cloud. I might just pick up a few more canvases. And some different colors. Recently I found a DVD copy of an interview of Frank Gehry by Sidney Pollack called the DRAWINGS OF FRANK GEHRY. Frank makes a comment in the beginning of the interview to Sydney about his work for clients. “I’m terrified I won’t be able to come up with anything good for them. So I start drawing and cutting pieces of paper placing them into something that looks good to me.” Hey, that sounds a lot like second grade.

Charlie Spear is a member of the community. You can view his work at, If you would like to write an article for the Myartspace Blog feel free to contact us at info at

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