Chris Gill

Action Painter

Chris Gill

Action Painter

Chris Gill is an improvisational action painter. His primary media are watercolor and gouache. He paints on large rolls of paper, which he often cuts up later to make different size paintings. The cutting process involves visually framing and "finding" the boundaries of the paintings within the rolls. Chris' paintings can be as large as 8 feet by four and a half feet, and as small as ten or 12 inches square. However, he generally aims at creating paintings which are three or four feet by four or five feet. Because of the nature of his process, Chris' paintings do, in fact, come in all different sizes, and rarely conform to a uniform size. Chris rarely touches a paintbrush to the paper, though he uses one to splatter, drip and mix paint. Most of the time he spills, pours, squirts and drips paint on the paper from containers of various types and sizes. He also uses a variety of imprinting techniques, whereby he folds and rolls sections of the freshly painted paper onto itself, creating layered and textured effects. Each painting has a certain number of "movements" (actions) once wet paint is on the roll. The movements involve manipulating the color and composition of the painting, by various actions he makes on the paper, such that he pulls it, drips it, rolls it etc.. The actions, though often appearing impulsive, and having a random element to them, in terms of how the paint reacts to his movements of the paper, are a key to Chris' process, which combines intention with spontaneity, and actions whose specific visual outcomes are not all consciously manipulated at any given moment. He says that too many actions while the paint is still wet will create a muddy and incoherent painting. He asserts he must be both decisive and patient, such that the actions, though sometimes very physical and vigorous, are willfully and mindfully achieved. By combining intentional and random elements in his process, Chris' paintings ofter mirror the patterns of nature. His paintings are never purposely narrative, but sometimes look as if they were, due to this marriage of intention and the "random" interactivity of natural processes. Chris works hard, fast and assertively, though individual paintings can take anywhere from a few hours to dozens of hours over the course of days, weeks or months, depending upon how many layers of gouache are used on a previously dried painting in progress. Regarding color, Chris employs a wide palette. He says that his paintings are less about specific color combinations, and more about the relationship between the different colors he uses on a given painting, and how those colors interact with each other. He says that his compositions tend to derive from these color relationships as they come to life, more than they do from any ongoing compositional plan.

Chris is a lifelong musician, who plays the drums, and tends to paint very rhythmically. He considers much of his work to be a kind of visual music. He sees it as a sort of birthing process, in which he finds great excitement and joy in the discovery aspect of how each painting, as a unique, organic creation, grows and evolves as a natural entity. Chris is also a psychotherapist, with interest in both psychological and universal processes, which come into play in his paintings. Chris is married to the artist, Jane Goldman, and lives in Somerville, MA.
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