I had an idea, an experiment

– the question being

can a group of artists create a canvas, without touching it?

collaborating with the public

instructing them to make the marks we wanted to see

limiting the palette and materials

using long brushes and sticks

creating challenges for both the public, and the artists


There were some flaws in my plan…

the timing was wrong, I was way too busy

unable to be there as I had hoped

my group of artists found more exciting things to do

than carry our my experiment.


lesson one

do it yourself and don’t do it on a 6 day art trail event

where your shop is flat out and you’re in two exhibitions


day one was great, there was time and instruction,

and hope, and graphite…



day two got messy

less time less instruction… but still hope


…by day three the horse had bolted

left to their own devices

the general public, unsupported,

clasping meter long brushes by the ferrule

resorting to doodles, spirals and love hearts

and, strangely, several renditions of Homer Simpsons face.

most, looking at me blankly as I asked

for a simple non representational mark

panicking and drawing a love heart



 day three

all hope was lost…

like a half eaten carcass in the African grasslands

I let them feed freely

the experiment had turned into something else

becoming way more interesting to me


upon surrendering to the understanding

that there was no way to reign it in

I watched

without judgment of the experiments success or failure

I learned a lot


what I learned was this

good abstract art is not an accident

…your three year old could not do it

for if that were the case

we would have a lovely painting right now


I became immensely grateful

that I have had the privilege learning with great artists

who taught me so much

about the elements of design

the language of art, the history of art and my place in it

the necessity of responding to, and refining a work as it evolves

how to react to the challenge of impediments

how those impediments can refresh my practice

how to get through the ugly stages of a work,

which is the task that lays before me now.


on a personal note

this canvas has been interesting to me

the town has just been affected by a massive flood

we are still healing, much has been lost

we are rebuilding

the canvas reminds me of the detritus post flood

the muddy canvas seems appropriate in some way

there has been a lot of beauty in the community post flood

I hope to bring some of that out

as I respond to what is on the canvas

and create a work which we will auction to raise money

for local artists who lost their studios

here is where we are…


watch this space

working title – “after the flood”





3 thoughts on “#theimpedimentexperiment

  1. A really interesting experiment. It is a challenge when you’ve had years of practice and years of training to come across the perception that everyone can be an artist.(Or your six year old can do it) I sometimes feel like a bit of an arsehole for questioning that. Sometimes it does not seem publically polite to doubt or question the idea that everyone can be an artist! But then again we don’t go around saying that everyone can just suddenly be a plumber or a dentist, without any training or at least years of practice. Of course making marks and being creative are such a fabulous thing for anyone to get involved in but with so much art around I am personally interested in artists that have had the training and have put in the hours and those who are not choosing to ignore the last 100 years of art history.


    1. Hi Judy, yes I agree. I would even question whether it is easy to make a good mark, to resist the urge to doodle. If everyone was an artist we would have ended up with a work of art. There is so much more to it than just creativity, and if you’re an arsehole then I am too. But at least we’re honest arseholes 🙂


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