An American abstract expressionist artist born in Rotterdam, Willem de Kooning is considered one of the most important artists in 20th century. There’s a Pulitzer prize winning book about his personal and professional life, de Kooning: An American Master (affiliate link to Amazon), which is the next book on my reading list. I was intrigued to read the book after learning that de Kooning was always in doubt with his work. What? A great master in doubt? I find it very humanizing and started thinking perhaps it’s necessary for artists to doubt…otherwise we would never experiment and push ourselves to the limit in order to grow – always seeking that something…that feeling when you know a work is complete and the excitement that surges inside of you.
Willem de Kooning, Elegy, 1939
De Kooning’s work also came to mind as I’m experimenting with more freedom in painting and techniques that stem from spontaneity. Abstract expressionism is sometimes called action painting – perhaps they aren’t the same thing really – but the idea is to spontaneously drip, splash or smear paint onto the canvas to emphasize the physical act of painting itself rather than the finished work. De Kooning actually destroyed some of his ‘bad’ paintings, which is so weird if he was supposed to be concerned more with the action rather than result of painting. It was mentioned that he regretted destroying works later in life, more interesting stories compelling me to read the book and find out more! I’m just so attracted to the idea of not having to plan – sort of stream of consciousness painting and seeing what happy surprises pop up. Perhaps this is an opposite reaction to my past job as a project manager? Of course, this style of painting is also really messy and fun…maybe it’s just regression, going back to finger painting! As I ponder my thoughts, I keep looking at de Kooning’s work, taking in the energy and visual inspiration.
Willem de Kooning, Pink Angels, 1945
Hope you can draw some energy from the idea of action painting as well. Thanks for stopping by, now go splatter some paint somewhere…feels good, doesn’t it?
Willem de Kooning, Gotham News, 1955