2005: I wanted to do a big project with the kids.  They like art and painting, so I thought that abstract expressionism would be a good fit for us.  We saw some work by Jackson Pollock at the museum and online, so Claire and Ben had the basic idea of where we were going.


The first time Debbie was out of town, we got some test canvases and paint, and we tried a few different techniques.  We found that putting paint in a cup with a hole in the bottom worked, but we got too much paint pooled on the canvas.  Dipping a toothbrush in paint and scraping it with a stick created a very light mist, so not enough paint was applied.  The two methods that seemed to work best were to use a squirt bottle and spray the paint, and to dip a brush into the paint and fling it onto the canvas.


On Debbie's next trip, we got some paint chips and tried to come up with the background colors.  We (Claire) chose four colors: Grape Vine, Willow Wood, Tile Red, and Coastal Blue.  I added Light Taupe, because I didn't think that Coastal Blue would quite balance the Tile Red (it's a light blue, fine for house trim).  We used these to paint five canvases to see how the colors would work in the room, and decided to swap out the Coastal Blue in favor of the Light Taupe (it's refreshing to see that sometimes I have influence with my kids).


Debbie was heading out of town for a week, so as soon as we got home from dropping her off, we sprang into action.  It took about four days to get a good base layer on the canvases.  On Wednesday night we did a trial run using the test canvases.   We decided to just fling the paint rather than to squirt it, because it looked better; the squirt bottles gave more of a dribbling effect.  On Thursday night, we were ready to go.  We had put plastic sheets all around the basement walls and a paper drop cloth on the floor, so we put on our oversized t-shirts and took turns flinging paint.  It was a lot of fun, and we learned a few things in the process:

We let the paint dry for a few days, and then spent a few hours hanging the four canvases on the wall.  It was nice to have a good application for the laser level.  Finally, the work was in place, fairly plumb and level.


Here's the finished product, in the living room:


Here are the canvases a bit closer, showing more detail:


Needless to say, Debbie was quite surprised to see the artwork on the wall when she returned.  She thought it was great that we were able to have a project on such a grand scale, and was quite pleased to see that we were busy and creative while she was gone.  She also suggested some alternative sites to display the work, such as the playroom (the purple paint goes very well with the carpet down there), so when I get the energy to hang the pictures again and repair the nail holes, the living room will will once again be a blank canvass, waiting for a future opportunity.


Update: September 21, 2008: The splatter art is on the wall in the playroom, and has been there for a while. We're still waiting for some art for the living room, but that's a different story, and hopefully it'll be done and installed soon.

Copyright © Steve Shoyer