My Muses: Paint

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Muse, poses a simple enough challenge, “So what’s your muse — what subject do you turn to frequently, more inspired each time?”

I’ve already responded with Function follows Form, which relates how form itself is my favourite subject. Here I want to draw back to my favourite element with which to explore form — and a variety of other subjects — and that has to be paint. When I bought my first professional camera in nearly 15 years, the first shots were all painted surfaces. Some abstractions. Others records of communication. Still others were essays on the environment in which the surface was painted.

Understand that I don’t paint. Rather, I find it, on urban, rural, domestic and corporate surfaces. Often, what I find in paint is line, shape, colour and texture, the elements of form to which I commit a photographic frame. I especially love ageing, cracked and peeling paint. Often it is the aging of a solid colour, along with some favourable light, which creates all the lines and shapes, reveals layers of colour and tone and texture. But more than just for its texture, as a subject ageing paint tends to come with a story — how did the paint come to be old, faded, cracked, peeling and chipped? What word or image has suffered so much exposure to time and the elements? What have we lost or walked away from? So many questions are raised by a bit of old paint.

My most abstract photographs tend to involve paint. I love focusing on the smaller details, taking the original painted object entirely out of context, seeking in it some formal construct that will please both eye and mind.

Meanwhile, my most pointed photographs, the ones imbued with the most meaning, tend to use the signs and symbols we paint into the landscape. An arrow or a highway shield painted on asphalt. Signage. Graffiti. Messages and posters. Paint as communication.

Oh, paint, how I love thee… I cannot begin to count the ways. But, below you’ll find numerous examples already posted to the blog.

Brisbane, Australia

Taken during travels, 1994

I have posted about some of my other muses as well.

And here is a gallery of images which are, primarily, a response to my Paint Muse.