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About this blog: John Barry is the creator of trAction Painting, a process/performance genre in which he applies paint to large surfaces with bicycles, roller skates, and other wheeled conveyances. With Bill Carmel and other associates, he has bro...  (More)

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Summer Camp, Day 2: Rolling

Uploaded: Jul 29, 2014
Today we migrate from the confines of a classroom setting to canvas-clad asphalt. Our 12 x 7-foot blank sheet sits atop a 21 x 12 canvas working surface. I open a duffel bag, and out cascades a cataract of inline skates ranging in size from 2 to 8. I ask how many kids have skated before. A few hands go up. Initially the group seems a little reluctant to slap on the blades and hit the canvas.

So I give them a little demo. They spent part of the previous day doing geometry, so I put on a pair and lay down a more or less equilateral triangle of iridescent green paint. "What kind of triangle is that," I ask. "Equilateral," one boy responds. We then have a little impromptu geometry lesson, during which I "skaint" a rectangle and attempt, unsuccessfully, a circle. As unimpressive as my demo is from a technical standpoint, it sparks interest. Before long I can't keep up with the demand to try skainting (a blended word I coined, combining skating and painting).

Never having skated much or at all before, some of the kids need a lot of spotting, but a couple of girls are naturals and are whizzing around, making graceful turns. The wheel-gripping grains of sand embedded in the gesso slow forward progress slightly but increase the safety factor. We are employing the basin method, in which they move the wheels back and forth in a basin of paint to coat the wheels. Then they go until the paint is expended. A more effective method of skainting is to strap a bottle of paint to each calf. Paint flows through tubes to the front wheels and is laid down continuously until the bottle is empty. But there are too many kids, and the overall skill level isn't adequate to do it this way.

Their enthusiasm trumps lack of experience and technical skill. I get repeated requests to go again and again. But time is running out. I promise a couple of kids who didn't get a chance that they will be first tomorrow. I plan to put them and two or three other kids in a row, with spotters on either end, each kid tracking a different color. We manage three abreast for one run toward the end of our session (as shown in this photo by Barbara Johnson). They also get a hands-on (feet-on?) lesson in color creation?e.g., moving from red basin to yellow and getting orange. I end up with a lovely forest green stripe on my right knee after helping a kid put on skates.

I want to thank Barbara, Bill, Lisa, Rosemary, and Wally for their invaluable assistance today. Most of all, I want to thank the kids for their enthusiasm in thinking "outside the box" when it comes to painting.

Tomorrow we move on to Razor scooters.

Comments

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Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Wow, what a fun way for kids to spend the summer. Jackson Pollock eat your heart out!

Roz


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