Expect the Unexpected

"Expect the Unpexpected"
“Expect the Unexpected”
"Roadhouse" movie poster

The movie “Roadhouse” is a controversial cult classic.

The dispute has nothing to do with graphic language or sexual content.  On the other hand, the film has oodles of gratuitous violence.  Nonetheless, the debate’s main issue is that critics can’t decide if the cult classic is a comedy or drama.

So, what does “Roadhouse” have to do with the abstract painting at the top of the page?  A lot.

A little back story.  In “Roadhouse,” Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, a freelance bouncer with black belts in several martial arts.  And a degree in philosophy.  Of course. 

Offered buckets of money, Dalton goes to a backwater town to clean up a seedy dive bar.  Really. That’s the plot.  Moving on, when Dalton introduces himself to his underling bouncers, he gives Dalton’s Rule #1: “Expect. The Unexpected.”

So, when creating a Jackson Pollock style painting in a park, applying Dalton’s Rule #1 in the correct forms makes the process immensely more efficient. 

"Oops" paint section at Home Depot

House paint works best for Pollock style paintings but it’s pricey.  Consequently, the “Ooops!” section at Home Depot is the most cost-effective option.

Even though the paint is inexpensive, you never what colors will be in stock.  Sometimes you’ll find deep burgundies, explosive oranges and secretive indigo blues.  Other times it’s just can upon can of beige variations.  It’s roulette using the color wheel.

Brushes are exempt from Dalton’s Rule #1.  Any method to put paint on canvas works.  So, expectations of the unexpected don’t apply. Frequently, I use dried up paint brushes that are past their prime or just sticks I find near the parking lot. It’s like playing a slot machine and always winning.

Sticks covered with paint.

Old bed sheets make perfect canvases for Pollock style paintings.   So, thrift stores are a favorite place to shop for “canvasses.”  Sometimes, you find what you want.  Occasionally, the thrift store has absolutely nothing.  As a result, buying sheets at secondhand stores becomes a shopping crapshoot.  On the other hand, the house doesn’t always win.

Since gathering the materials for Pollock type painting correlates to a casino trip, weather resembles the magic show on the side stage.  

Weather has a command of Dalton’s Rule #1 much like a magician leading an audience.   In Atlanta, thunderstorms materialize out of nowhere, often leaving the parks unparkable.

Even with perfectly clear skies, rain can drizzle, pour or cascade as if we’re watching a Mother Nature sleight of hand magic trick.  “Focus on my left hand…”  Consequently, painting in the park becomes a lively version of a card trick. 

The gamble on available art supplies and the weather’s dazzling misdirection can hinder the creative process.  However, these factors often harmoniously converge.

Double rainbow

Dalton’s Rule #1 In Forma Las Vegas:  “Prepare to Be Lucky”

And that’s when the real show begins.  Moreover, the people as much as the painting make the whole process worthwhile.  In addition, the people you meet bring Dalton’s Rule #1 to life.

I did this painting in a parking lot in Henderson Park, close to the hiking trails.  Generally, a guy pacing around an enclosed area, kneeling then standing, flicking and flinging paint, attracts attention. 

Paint flinging from a stick.

So, while I was laying down the second layer, an amiable grandfatherly type with his two granddaughters approached.

He had been showing them the simple natural wonders of the park; pine cones, acorns, types of rocks.  Keeping a safe distance, he asked if they could watch me paint.  “Sure,” I replied. 

He asked Olivia, the older granddaughter, “Isn’t that cool?”  She enthusiastically agreed.  He asked Sophia, Olivia’s younger sister, “Don’t you think that’s cool?”  Sophia shrugged her shoulders in a detached manner that implied, “Yeah.  If we can go back to doing fun stuff.”

I asked Olivia if she’s like to throw down some paint.  She said yes with anxious uncertainty.  I handed her a stick and held the paint can for her.  She dipped the stick in the paint and cautiously drizzled paint on the sheet.

Paint dripping from a stick.
Olivia dripping her first paint.

I asked Sophia if she’d like to try. Despite her initial reaction, I was positive Sophia would want to join the fun.    Bashfully yet curtly, she replied “No (!)”   

Grandpa thanked me for the unplanned art lesson and they went back to nature exploring.  As he walking away, Grandpa looked at the paint covered sticks near the canvas and shook his head.  “Weird,” he said.  “I thought he was using brushes.”   

These kind of interactions unconsciously modify our expectations.  While I was finishing the final layer, a jogger slowed his pace to look at the painting. 

Conditioning taught me to think he would try to connect like Grandpa and the kids.  Not today.  He jogged in place for a few seconds.  He muttered, “Nice,” and ran into the woods. 

Jogger staring at finished painting.
Shadow of the jogger examining the painting.

Dalton’s Rule #1 Inverted: “I Should’ve Seen That Coming.” 

OK.  So, you’ve finished the painting.  Where do you hang it?  Pollock style paintings are big.  Really big.  This painting measures 53 by 78 inches (138 by 198 cm).  So, hanging art this size at home is pretty impractical.  Furthermore, I enjoy treating each artwork as a sort of mandala; a one time fleeting creation.

Mandalas also represent our relationship with the natural world.   Therefore, displaying the art in the park’s natural environment makes sense.  The organic/inorganic contrast is also fun.  Henderson Park has a quirky rock formation on a trail that seemed well-suited for this painting.  And, the staggered wall of rock isn’t too far from the parking lot.  So, lugging the framing equipment to mount the painting wasn’t that difficult. 

What I failed to consider was the time of day.  At three P.M. on this day, the temperature was 94°F (35°C) with 48% humidity.  That’s a textbook definition of muggy.  Less than ideal conditions for assembling a giant picture frame.  Nonetheless, determination compelled me to see the final product. 

Even with the help of a power drill, putting the frame together takes about forty-five minutes.  Furthermore, connecting the frame pieces in hot, sticky air seemingly doubles the time. 

I use wood screws to build the frame.  Wood screws are supposed to have pointy ends that give them their screwability.  However, I failed to notice that one of the screws lacked the required pointiness.  In contempt of my best efforts, the screw refused to do its job.  Frustration began to overtake determination. 

Since the frame was almost finished, not finishing the job appeared more futile than finishing the job. At one of those moments where monks attain sudden enlightenment, I noticed the missing tip and replaced the screw. Then, I slapped my head in Homer Simpson “DOH!” fashion.  At last, the frame came together with an unnecessary ten minute delay. And near heat exhaustion. 

Dalton’s Rule #1 Ex Post Facto: “Pay Attention to the Obvious.” 

While I was positioning the finished painting, park maintenance employees drove up the trail in a rickety all-terrain vehicle.  I had never seen any park employees on any trail, so they caught me completely off guard.  They stopped, got out of the vehicle and critically sized up the painting.  They examined the art quite studiously and deliberately, as if I had given them a hot dog in a taco shell.

“You paint that?” one of them asked.  “Yes, sir,” I replied.  For some reason, their scrutiny prepared me to receive at least a warning about vandalism or defacing public property. 

“We saw you painting in the parking lot.  Keep doing what you’re doing.”  And they drove off. 

"Expect the Unexpected"

Relieved, I prepared to start disassembling the art.

Just as I was picking up the painting, a woman in her mid-twenties walked down the trail.  She, too, inspected the painting in the same manner as the park maintenance men.

“You paint that?” she asked.  “Yes, Ma’am.”  “That’s really cool,” she said.  “I didn’t expect to see any art on the trail.” 

On this day, Dalton’s Rule #1 had proven itself correct in multiple forms.  Expect The Unexpected. 

Rating: 1 out of 5.

4 thoughts on “Expect the Unexpected

  1. Dalton always said “Be nice” and “Take it outside” I guess you did both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dalton was wise beyond his years. I did my best to adhere to the Dalton philosophy. Thanks for reading!


  2. Never thought of painting in the park and now I feel challenged to do so. Great read and liked the “Pollock”. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wic,
      Painting in the park is a great experience. You’ll probably meet some fantastic people. Glad you liked the “Pollock” and thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close