The physical and intellectual pacing may have been more deliberate and deliberative, but the adults in their 60s and 70s were kids at heart as they rolled across a 5 x 8 canvas on August 16 in my garage-studio. Fun is the operative word in these events, and all participants had a heaping helping of it, in spite of the 100-plus-degree temperatures. (Upside of the hellish weather: we occasionally dragged the work-in-progress onto the driveway, where the paint dried very quickly between layers.)
The group, known as the Extended Family, meets once a month for an activity or excursion. Past gatherings have included trips to the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond and the Oakland Zoo. My wife, Eva, and I are members of the group and hosted the trAction Painting party, featuring an array of "brushes" from which to choose: skates, scooters, rollers constructed from old lawnmower wheels, Thomas the Tank Engine tricycle, bike, Razors, and a walker. The BMX bike proved to be most popular, and I'm happy to report that no one had to resort to the walker. I call the accompanying midsession photo, with Catherine perched on the Thomas trike, "Pas de trois." More layers went on subsequently, but as is customary with short-duration trAction events, there wasn't enough time to complete the painting?so some residual tweaking will be in order.
I'm now focused primarily on what I see as the educational potential of trAction Painting. To date, my colleagues and I have staged events with young artists and have attempted to incorporate the respective activities into studies of motion, math, science, and writing. But the lightbulb doesn't go on just for kids. One of the adult participants at my place made the following observations:
"Abstract art is challenging. We can never quite figure out the intent of the artist. Your trAction-art, however, was easy for me. If I were a 'GPS' looking down in a slow motion, I would see the humanity crisscrossing paths endlessly, randomly, and purposely in every which way?somewhat like the canvas we painted. Just think about it, in real life people are traveling here, there and everywhere, in cars, airplanes, ships, bicycles, on foot, on horsebacks or camels, etc. round the clock. The paths are different, yet if we can juxtapose the paths in one plan?like on your canvas?it manifests a complementary oneness of the infinitely diverse paths of human family. Perhaps that is why the end result of trAction-painting, chaotic as it may seem, looks beautiful."
As another participant noted about these observations: "I cannot say it any better."
Neither can I.