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  The Art Accident

Accidents are usually considered to be things to avoid.  However, there is one exception that I've found.

When I first began to paint in earnest, I had accidents regularly.  Most made the paintings better, not worse.  As time passes and I become more competent as a painter, I have fewer accidents.  I miss the accidents.

My best accident was the day I splashed water onto an acrylic painting that I was working on.  I quickly picked up a cloth and patted the wet area.  Voila!  The spray of water when picked up by the cloth caused an interesting pattern.  At that moment I thought, “What a lucky fellow.”

Since that moment, I intentionally have “accidents” by spraying a mist of water from an old Windex bottle on to newly applied paint and quickly pat it with sponges.  If I'm not satisfied, I apply the same color or a different color, spray the area again and again pick up the wet areas.  Now, I don't use a cloth; I use those little wedge-shaped facial sponges some women use to clean their faces…I think.

When the original accident occurred,  I wasn't using masking.  I immediately realized that I would need to mask off portions of the canvas in order to keep it under control: it's a pretty messy process. I experimented with various masking materials finally settling on transparent shelf paper which, so far, is carried by Hobby Lobby.

By the way, I also use those little sponges I mentioned to apply a wet coat of acrylic paint to a masked area, and, of course, after spraying water with my trusty Windex bottle, I pick up the wet areas with those little sponges.

This process has become pretty routine for me.  I haven't had a new accident for some time now, darn it.

A few years ago, three or four, I was experimenting with my ink jet printer, just your everyday garden variety printer.

I was wondering if I could print some of my cat images in black and white and paint them and have a decent product.  After experimenting with various cheap papers, I accidentally discovered one that produced an interesting effect.  When I printed on some grey shaded newsprint, I found that the black ink of the inkjet printer became purple and pink and bright blue.  I remember thinking, “Very cool.”  I adhered the newsprint images to gessoed masonite with Liquitex Matte Medium in which I soaked the newsprint.  It adheres perfectly and provides a finish with a little tooth to it.   I then added acrylic paint as I thought appropriate.   It's a little labor intensive, but it produces an interesting product.  I did a number of paintings this way, probably thirty. 

I even did some using Scribbletoo.  I'm sure this doesn't qualify as an accident, but I'm wedging it into this essay anyway.  My friend, John Grant, pointed me to the online program Scribbletoo.  Heck, this program will make even the least gifted artists think they're great at drawing.  Part of the program creates a spiderweb like connection of lines which is pretty darned super. 

I've mentioned art accidents to other artists, and they readily agree with me: the accident in art is a gift from the gods.

So, here’s wishing you your own art accidents.