Abstract painting - Celebrities at a party in Palm Beach Materials: Acrylic on MDF board Dimensions: 70 x 75 cm Painted: 2013
Bert Ernie is well known to many of the A-list celebrities. So it comes as little surprise that he gets to rub shoulders with many of the worlds most beautiful people at super fashionable parties in some of the most exquisite locations.
The scene for this particular party is the luxurious grounds of a local Palm Beach billionaire’s mansion. There is a pavilion which is home to a be-bop jazz quartet playing lively music for the guests. Central to the party is a large pool with lots of beautiful people splashing about in it. Across the expansive lawn there are hundreds of the worlds top celebrities and elites from across the planet.
However most of the centre of attention is on two people who are engaged in an arm wrestling match – Justin Bieber and Bret Easton Ellis. Among those cheering them on are – Brad Pitt, Ridley Scott, Molly Ringwald, Kyle Kulinski, Ali Khamenei and Jeff Koons. But not everybody is interested in the two alpha males showing off. Elsewhere you can see Lance Armstrong performing cartwheels across the lawn with Stewart Copeland, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Byron cheering him on. A small crowd surrounds Bert Ernie who is in the background quietly working away painting this scene of incredible hedonism of the world’s elite.
My reasons for painting in a totally abstract style initially were due to having a need to do two things. The first reason was to use up excess paint from my photorealist paintings by applying it to the reverse side of the painting to pull the MDF board flat. The second reason was to express ideas, images and feelings that simply couldn’t be done in a realistic manner. As I completed each new abstract painting I developed more skill as an abstract painter, (especially in terms of composition) and began to really enjoy the process of painting as well. After a few paintings I exclusively painted in my new found style on their very own MDF board so that just left the one reason for most of my abstract work. As I evolved with each painting I moved more towards only painting an image as a starting point.
In 2017 my reasons for painting in an abstract style changed. I wanted to continue in the direction I had been but to add another overriding dimension to my work. I wanted to create beautiful art. I wanted people to see the actual painted surface as being incredibly beautiful. It is actually the most important element – the sheer physical beauty of the incredibly dense array of colourful splotches, flicks, dabs and runs that makes for one of my artworks. Secondary to that is the often crazy story or image behind the work.
My technique has evolved – only in the sense that is I have got better at it. There have been some additions to my arsenal of techniques to applying paint but mostly it has been a grab bag of just about anything I can use that I would use in a photorealist work of art. It’s just that some of the techniques for abstract painting are a lot more appropriate.
- Using a paintbrush to paint a stroke, dot or line
- Flicking paint from a loaded brush
- Using a finger to manipulate paint already on the surface
- Dropping a droplet of paint from a brush
- Pouring an amount of paint into a puddle
- Tilting the board to make wet paint run across the board
- Adding oil based paint to acrylic paint
- Using a syringe to squirt paint in a direction
- Using a syringe to drop a droplet of paint
- Using a large brush to apply paint to a large area
- Removing half dry paint off by washing painting off with a hose
- Removing and smudging paint with a rag
- Using a can of spray paint
For many people my abstract paintings look like there is no skill involved. Nothing could be further from the truth. The skills that I use in my abstract paintings are mostly compositional. That is I have to decide what technique and colour I need to use to get that totally abstract and random look for that small (or large) area of the surface I am painting on.
The fact that I don’t have to finesse a particular and highly accurate shape into existence like I would with a photorealistic painting is one of the few differences between my two painting styles. In painting my photorealist work I am absolutely constrained to copying those abstract elements in order to convey the image. What a lot of people don’t realise is that in order to truly make a photorealist painting look truly convincing the artist must paint the totally abstract elements that make up a photographic image absolutely faithfully. In learning that simple idea – photorealism is extremely ordered abstraction – I was able to truly master the art of photorealist abstraction.
Once I understood that idea I was able to take my abstract painting seriously. What I realised early on was my approach was very much like taking a photographic image in my mind, tearing it up into small strips, shapes, confetti like circular pieces and throwing them up into the air. Only to have them fall in a completely random manner on the board. Each piece of the torn photo occupying it’s own space, and all the pieces landing in the original image space. My abstract painting is just a torn imaginary photograph.