Arts and Sciences (Video)

Chains dipped in gray, burgundy and black paint then dropped on a canvas.

Painters are control freaks.  Even abstract painters?  Their art just seems like random brush strokes they finish in a few minutes.  On the surface, yes.  However, most abstract painters devote significant time to creating their art.  Every brush stroke contributes to the work as a whole. 

For example, let’s consider Willem de Kooning’s abstract masterpiece Woman I.

“Woman I” by Willem de Kooning.
Woman I by Willem de Kooning

De Kooning toiled in agony for two years to create the mournful ballad on canvas.  As a result, each brush stroke demonstrates de Kooning’s obsessive desire to control the paint. 

However, what if the painter relinquishes some of that control?  What if the artist renounces the delicate power of the brush stroke and collaborates with the principles of physics?  Newtonian basics such as velocity, force and energy.  Working with science to randomly thwack, drop, pop and flog the paint on the canvas.  And, as a result, happily letting the painting happen almost by accident. Without two years of suffering to finish the project.   

Take a look at the video to see the process. 

To achieve maximum abstraction in this type of art, a really fluid paint works best.  Moreover, physics is more entertaining when things are moving and colliding.  So, house paint, India ink and diluted artist’s paint really lay the foundation for motion and energy transformation. 

Since we’ll have minimal contact with the canvas and use watery paint, we don’t need traditional brushes.  Therefore, anything you can swing, drop or pop is fair game. Let’s examine a few possibilities.

The Toothbrush

Various shades of blue splattered on a canvas with a toothbrush.
Done with an old toothbrush and diluted acrylic paint.

The humble toothbrush is more than a hygiene tool or grout scrubber.  The inexpensive dental gadget also allows the painter to create miniature action paintings. 

Let’s say you swing the toothbrush with the force of a hammer driving a nail.  That’s about 1000 pounds of force.  By comparison, a black belt in karate requires 687 pounds of force to break a concrete slab 1½ inches (3.8 cm) thick.  Depending on how you dilute the paint and the force of the swing, you’ll achieve monumental abstraction.    


Marbles dipped in black, gray and burgundy paint dropped on a canvas.
Marbles dipped in acrylic paint and dropped from a parking lot wall.

Dropping objects on the canvas literally means releasing control.  Once the object leaves your hand, who knows what will happen?  Even with precise aim, when the object hits the canvas, the residual bounces and splatters add capricious highlights to the painting. 

In this example, marbles served as the “brush”.  I dropped the marbles from a retaining wall measuring twenty-two feet (6.7 meters).  When the marbles hit the canvas, they were travelling thirty-eight feet (11.5 meters) per second.  The canvas was pretty tight so each bounce added to the painting’s abstract depth.

However, any object such as tennis balls or links of chain will produce a unique painting.  To further illustrate, in the painting at the top of the page, two foot links of chain acted as the “brushes.”  I dropped the chains from a height of about 8 feet (2.4 meters).  While in the air, the chains twisted and coiled unpredictably.  So, if you drop a straight chain, it might have an “S” shape when hitting the canvas. Or not.  In short, dropping stuff on the canvas yields truly random abstractions. 


Balloons dipped in gray, pink, yellow and red paint, placed on a canvas and popped.
Balloons dipped in house paint and popped with a utility knife.

Balloons add a festive touch to any occasion.  Furthermore, popping balloons contributes surprise and excitement to the festivities.  Dipping the balloon in paint before popping boosts the excitement to another level. 

When using balloons as “brushes,” the artist has some degree of control.  The painter chooses where to place the balloons and how much air goes in the balloon.  In the physics world, when you inflate a balloon, the balloon stores the air as energy.  More air, more energy.  Consequently, when you pop the balloon, the air is released as kinetic energy, or moving energy.   More energy equals major abstract art. 


Canvas flogged with black India ink.
Chains dipped in India ink and then the canvas was flogged.

Flogging the canvas is the most cathartic method of applying paint to canvas.  Lashing the canvas with a length of chain or a cat o’ nine tails alleviates stress and releases endorphins.  The faster, the better.

While we’re letting out our frustrations, let’s say we lash the canvas with a swift but controlled stroke.  I stood about six feet (1.8 meters) from the canvas.  When it struck the canvas, the chain produced a “brush stroke” at 25 MPH (40 KPH).  That’s the same speed as the marbles falling from twenty-two feet (6.7 meters). 

As a result of the motion, the India ink splattered before, during and after impact.  I slightly controlled the chain but had no jurisdiction over the ink.  Therefore, each whack of the chain produced macro and micro abstractions.  And, I felt better about a lousy day at work. 

The laws of physics state that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Remember de Kooning’s two year anguish in creating Woman I?  The art world’s equal and opposite reaction to de Kooning is Bob Ross. 

Bob Ross
Bob Ross painted happy little trees.

The renowned landscape painter had a sunny disposition and finished each painting in thirty minutes.  Moreover, art lovers have memorialized Ross for the quote, “We don’t make mistakes.  We have happy accidents.”  And his hair.

Each of these paintings is a series of happy accidents that took an hour, tops.  And, thanks to science, we didn’t need to obsess about control. 

Rating: 1 out of 5.

6 thoughts on “Arts and Sciences (Video)

  1. thelaconicwriter November 7, 2020 — 6:19 am

    I loved the marbles and balloon paintings! Dropping things on the canvas is much more interesting Because it creates beautiful abstracts. I also prefer using cotton balls and fingers sometimes to create abstracts!😆😄😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for appreciating the art! In addition, cotton balls and fingers really put a tactile effect and you’re also totally connected to your art. Thanks for reading!😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thelaconicwriter November 7, 2020 — 7:55 am

        Painting with fingers does make ones fingers messy but it, according to me is a good way to embrace your canvas😂😂😊 Reading your content is a pleasure! Love the topics!😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much for reading! If you’re interested in embracing the canvas, check out the “Action Jackson” post. Thanks again for your great comments!😃😃😃

        Liked by 1 person

      3. thelaconicwriter November 7, 2020 — 8:01 am

        I’ll check it out now! Thank you!😊😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

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