In praise of…tinkering

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I recently commented upon the sad passing of Thomas Nozkowski.  I’d been resisting the monograph on him produced last year until now (not least as I have several catalogues of his) but this week took delivery of a copy.  If you are unfamiliar with his work you’ll not know of his regular practice of making over his canvas boards through erasure and re-painting.  In John Yau’s excellent essay he quotes the artist saying: “I don’t like tinkering. Whenever I go back to a painting, I try to open up the entire surface – you know, run a wash of colour over it, or I’ll scrape it down, or I’ll rub it off with a rag – so that everything is back in play.”

Now I love his work, and (I hope) in my modest way see him as something of ‘a fellow traveller’ in several respects…but not in the matter of ‘tinkering’…it’s something I absolutely love.  Indeed it goes to the heart of my dabbling!  Paintings can, and usually do, sit around for months, and even occasionally years, in order that small additions, adjustments or obliterations may take place.  It is also the case that, rather more rarely for me, the outcome can be ‘opening up’ the entire surface as well.  But it’s the tinkering that mostly takes centre stage and the very thing I celebrate.  And so it is with these three paintings all ‘in play’ since Easter but not significantly altered – as yet – from their early states…but still likely I think to some jolly tinkering!