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Crash and burn: a moment of creative genius?

Image courtesy of [imagerymajestic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [imagerymajestic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So you  have burnt the candles on both ends, battled the reaper, focused your intentions and had moments of satisfaction. Finally stopping to take a breath to survey the masterpiece of your creation and….. NO ways!

Your heart begins to pound. The grim reaper smiles and you prepare for the onslaught. It isn’t really that bad or is it? The project is due in two days and you have spent the better part of a week chugging away coffee and surviving on cold pizza and hard boiled eggs that you can bounce off the kitchen ceiling….. Why did I not give myself more time? Maybe I should have chosen a different approach to the subject? This sucks! I hate this! What’s wrong with me? I can’t hand this in….whatever was I thinking? Should I ask for an extention? Two days….. it’s not enough time to sort out this disaster… You stare in horror at the wasted energy that was once a blank expectant canvas.

You find yourself immobilised by your own critic… and the clock is still ticking…

So, you succumb to the mind chatter.  You drift to and fro between the maybe’s and what if’s of feeble attempts at transforming  your work… you crash for a few hours and awake exhausted… it is weekend and the temptation to give up and give in mounts as the invitations to escape come knocking on your door…

Some lyrics by the Clash pop into your head…

Should I stay or should I go now?                                                                                                                                                                                     If I go there will be trouble                                                                                                                                                                                                            And if I stay it will be double                                                                                                                                                                                                          So come on and let me know

…the clock is still ticking…

It is Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining and everyone is smiling. If only you had started your project a few days earlier… Monday is looming…mass evaluation…what to do, what to do?

You eye the blow torch…let it burn… A change of scenery and you are outside with the blow torch in hand and dragging the paint laden canvas on the ground behind you. You are determined to exorcise this demon.  What will be will be, the lecturers be damned, you tried, you failed…you’ll make up for it elsewhere.

And then there was light…

Almost a week’s worth of thick layered acrylic paint mockingly stares at you while you fumble trying to light the blow torch. You realise that there are way too many layers and for goodness sake how many times have you been told you need to know when to stop. Why did you not stop in those moments of satisfaction and leave it a while? More mind chatter in a different light. Outside the colours have changed and there are bits that are quite pleasing….. hmmm….to burn or not to burn? You look at the blow torch. You look at the painting. If’s and maybe’s. What the heck, just go for it and burn away!

So you burn, the paint bubbles, you stop burning. By now you have an audience wondering if you are attempting arson and complaining about that awful smell. It’s art you say and furiously aim the blowtorch at the painting watching the layers growing blackened furrows.  The blow torch has run out of gas and now you are wishing that you had a gas mask. You look at what remains of the painting.  It has not quite caught alight yet. There are bubbles and a few melted holes dotted over the surface.  Too many damned layers of paint. The painting has taken on a character of its own; one of a tortured soul…in that instant you are finally connecting to it and it takes on a whole new meaning for you. In a panic, you rush for the hose-pipe…

What remains is an incomplete burn and a sense of satisfaction… you feel lighter, free and energised.

You can hear the excited voices of those readying themselves for a night in the city. You no longer feel the need to escape. You cannot wait to  fine tune your burn. Tomorrow is Sunday and promises a lazy day in bed with a book or a visit with some friends.

Monday mass evaluation…

The response to your “crash and burn” which is now also the title of your piece: whilst you did not adhere to the subject matter of the project as is evident in the outcome, the work can still stand alone as a purely experimental work and a reflection of process driven angst, whatever that means… Don’t you love artspeak?!

You passed…

And the painting? You finally reduced it to ashes…


How to purge 


burning paintings

Randolph Cheng  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMhwRbza7l4

exorcism 2d

SomebodyIusedtoknow  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWPY6abvgiA

For the Love of Art

Destroying paintings in order to save them


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This entry was posted on January 25, 2013 by in Arts Education, Learning, Visual Arts and tagged , , , , , , , .
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