Distaste for waste

Sometimes there are ‘triggers’ that are catalysts for new directions in my art that I would never normally even have been capable of dreaming of!

Both my parents where youngsters during the Great Depression and their ingrained frugal ways, have influenced me to a great extent. Besides their example, I am also interested in Alchemy as well as the concept of the Parcae or Spinners of Gold.
Sometimes I am astounded at how little material I actually use to create my art. Thick paint and expensive canvas does not always guarantee a masterpiece! The very notion of ‘adding value to’ or transforming something ordinary into something extra- ordinary, is really what my art-making process is all about. I simply cannot ‘waste’.

Although I work very sparingly with my art materials, invariably after the completion of a painting, I am confronted with the residue of several blobs of paint on my palette. The extended period of focus on one subject, usually drains my ‘enthusiasm reservoir’ and by this time I am totally starved to paint a “little gem” that on the one hand, can be rapidly executed and completed and on the other, absorb the last usable paint on my palette and extract value from it.

I experience enormous physical and emotional release whenever I decide to indulge myself in one of my “toys”. I usually source (from a variety of characterful boards stored for this very purpose and which already have some sort of ‘patina’ or marking on them) and then use the “leftovers” on the palette, to create something from the subconscious, that is very spontaneous and I needn’t worry or think about too much. During this entire exercise, I experience a heightened feeling of ‘flow’.

Although these are actually re-cycled paintings (as both the board and the paint are recycled), the ideas are intuitive and fresh.

These 2 little paintings were created entirely by using ‘left-over’ paint and ‘left-over’ board. The choice of colors have their origin in what was available on my original palette which would/could have ended up in the waste paper bin……

The playful little ‘toys’ are spontaneously created using ’left-over’ paint and then followed by the meticulous ordering of the chaos.

I think my ‘toys’ may actually be my most serious work.

It merely feels like I am ‘playing’ because it feels effortless and easy and also because of all my previous experience.
Lastly, I find the process immensely pleasurable. 

I have the nasty habit of under-valuing that which I have mastered.

‘LEFT-OVERS 1 & 2’

I was commissioned to paint a painting of ‘dancers’, as a 21stbirthday present. I decided to use gouache on cardboard, thereby trying to capture something of the essence of Degas’s and Lautrec’s work.  I enjoyed it so much that I painted 2 versions of similar theme and then kept one.

I found it refreshing to use these materials. I had kept this piece of cardboard in storage for 40 years and as the color was no longer available, it was very precious to me.

All that now remained, was a longish, cut-off strip. I could not bear to discard it. I could not bear to keep it for another 40 years either! Unceremoniously I divided it in half.

Although the small bits of pastel-colored gouache had dried out on the palette, they only needed to be touched with a moist brush, in order to revive.

I set to work and painted the matching pair, using the left-over paint. I added subtle touches of aquarelle where I felt some translucence was necessary and then completed my enjoyable act of Alchemy, with final touches of gold and a golden border. 

© Aleta Michaletos