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The body of work I've created is based upon the Chopstick Drip Painting technique I developed about 12 years ago. Harnessing the power of gravity, I drip oil-based enamel paint from chopsticks onto wood, a system of gravity and imperfection.
I have chosen to use this (unruly) paint in an unconventional approach, creating mostly figurative works that push drip painting beyond its confines of abstract expressionism. The synergy of paint & gravity has allowed me to create a hybrid art form that coalesces the seemingly inverse worlds of Jackson Pollock and Bob Ross.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but for me it was boredom. I got bored doing art that has already been done before, and this led me to experiment with this paint. One day I left the lid off the can by mistake, and noticed how this altered this viscosity of the paint. I noticed after the paint thickened, the lines I dripped kept their integrity. This opened up a whole new dimension to creating art, realizing I could use my pen & ink drawing skills to drip the line instead of draw it. It requires me to assert control over a medium with a high random tendency.
I found that the simplest drawings I dripped took on an edge and a life of their own. I had to adjust my concept of “mastering the medium.” I had to learn to work with the paint. I did what I did. The paint did what the paint did. It was the beginning of a relationship. There was no master. Just the two of us -- me and the paint dancing together. Sometimes I would lead, sometimes the paint would. Sometimes we stepped on each others toes, but it never got boring. So we kept dancing. That was over 12 years ago.
It’s been evolution. One of the things I learned is that wood is an optimal substrate for this technique, adding texture and natural lines you can’t get in canvas. Since then, I taught myself how to hand craft wood panels, maintaining the organicity of the art. The very quintessence of this art would be lost if I made prints or giclees, so I have chosen to create only originals (beside I am not a machine-generated-art-kind-of-guy).
I keep it simple -- chopsticks, paint, gravity, and maybe a little imagination. Perhaps this is the reason art critics have said my art lacks philosophical underpinnings. Simplicity is often misunderstood. Technique and process are my underpinnings!
Chopstick Drip Painting is a heuristic art form, one that deserves to be shared with other artists. There are infinite directions and styles that would benefit from this technique. But I have realized I can't do it all (nor should I). What wonderful things could happen if other artists used this approach, applying their unique vision, execution and skills? My goal now is to introduce this technique and process to others so that this art form may continue to evolve.
Before artist Buchan learned to drip the line, he mastered drawing the line as shown in this award winning illustration, "A Night in Waterman Canyon," used for Winnemucca's city telephone book, CIRCA 1980s.
THE BACKSTORY OF CHOPSTICK DRIP
Raised in the high desert of Winnemucca, Nevada, Peter G. Buchan was raised by parents who considered art as a core family value. Studying and creating art were considered just as important as education and religion. Born the fifth child out of seven, Buchan and his siblings were guided by their parents to draw at a very early age. At seven, Buchan began to draw, and he was inspired by the elegance of nature found in the high desert.
Buchan recalled how art was part of every day life. “The house was always filled with picture books of Michelangelo, David, Picasso, and illustrators such as Howard Pyle and Arthur Rackham. My mom, Willie, was a crafter and seamstress, and did crafts to earn extra money. She would often hold drawing competitions with my siblings that kept us busy and out of her hair. My father, John, also studied the arts, and created lots of things for our home. For Christmas, he would carve linoleum block and print his own cards. We would help string them up to dry across the living room with paper clips.”
John recognized Buchan’s talent and encouraged him to pursue art, instilling in him the importance of productivity and discipline. With his father’s guidance, Buchan honed his skills through a rigorous self-study discipline that involved learning the classics, and studying and practicing the technical skills required in pen & ink drawing, sculpture and painting.
As a young adult, Buchan prolifically created pen & ink drawings, which earned him statewide acclaim. By 18-years-old, he was considered a talented, emerging artist, receiving accolades from the art community, including a critique by American landscape artist Dale Nichols whose work is exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum. Despite Buchan's success, he believed he had another calling, and suspended his pursuit of becoming a professional visual artist. At age 19, he left his home town of Winnemucca to pursue a career as a singer in a rock and roll band. For nearly a decade, he focused his artistic energy in music, though he never stopped painting and drawing.
In mid-life, Buchan found himself living a life of mediocrity, working various jobs that he found unfulfilling. One of these jobs was serving as a painter at the Long Beach Convention Center. Call it fate, chance or choice, the artist-turned-maintenance man was painting walls and ceilings with industrial, oil-based enamel paint when he discovered the wonderment of the paint. That is when Buchan began to experiment with the paint and discovered the Chopstick Drip Painting method. This re-ignited his artistic passion and kick started his career as a “re-emerging artist.”
In 2012, he quit his day job to pursue art full time, producing work for solo shows, group exhibits and juried fine art competitions that earned him multiple regional, national and international awards, including the honor of placing 1st in a seascape competition with 629 entries from 22 countries around the world. He is currently teaching other artists what it took him 12 years to develop. His latest works are a series of “Dripscapes” inspired by the Kern River Valley, located in Sequoia National Forest, where he currently resides with his partner Marsinah.
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