The Origins of Chopstick Drip Painting
Peter G. Buchan harnesses the power of gravity by fusing the chaos of drip painting with the control of line painting. Synergizing the incongruous genres of abstract expressionism and figurative painting, the artist creates textured originals by dripping industrial enamel paint from chopsticks onto hand-crafted wood panels.
As a life-long artist skilled in multiple classical disciplines, (sculpture, pen & ink, painting, drawing), Buchan evolved into a drip painter when he discovered the wonderment of industrial enamel while working as a commercial painter at the Long Beach Convention Center 17 years ago.
During a happy accident, the artist-turned maintenance man inadvertently left the lid off a paint can. When he returned, the viscosity of the paint was altered. Subsequently, he began to experiment with the thickened paint and recognized the paint could be dripped, while maintaining the integrity of the line.
Buchan parlayed his decades of skills as a pen & ink artist to teach himself to drip the line instead of draw it. Chopsticks are used to drip the paint freehand layer after layer. The gravity-fed method coalesces the paint into forms of color and texture that embody a sense of motion.
Like a conductor composing music, Buchan synchronizes what he intends to create while the paint is quickly dripping off the chopstick. Considered a form of action painting, the technique requires Buchan to assert control over a medium with a high random tendency. Critics have described his works as unprecedented — fusion art that channels the chaos of Jackson Pollock’s works with the graceful, figurative imagery of Bob Ross.
Novel and hybrid in nature, Chopstick Drip Painting has rejuvenated Buchan’s professional career, allowing him to quit his day job. It has also opened up a realm of endless creativity. He calls it an “unexplored frontier in art.” One he hopes to share with other established artists.
Buchan discovered that the simplest drawings he dripped took on a life and edge of their own. “I had to adjust my concept of mastering the medium. I did what I did. The paint did what it did. There was no master. Just the two of us -- me and the paint dancing together. Sometimes I led, sometimes the paint led. Sometimes we stepped on each others toes, but it never got boring. Even after 17 years. So we will keep dancing.”
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. Long before he learned to drip, Buchan 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.
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.
2016 Honorable Mention, Ojai Fine Art Festival, Ojai Ca
2014 Best Art of the Day, Art Radio TV, Online Competition
2014 Honorable Mention, Ojai Fine Art Festival, Ojai CA
2014 Second Place, Sierra Arts Festival, Kernville, CA
2013 International Award 1st Place, “A Moment Ago,” Light, Space Time Gallery
2012 “People’s Choice,” Nampa Festival of the Arts, Nampa, ID
2012 Bronze Award, Nampa Festival of the Arts, Nampa, ID
2012 Second Place, Sunset Beach Art Festival, Sunset Beach, CA
1980 First Place City Telephone Book Cover, Winnemucca, NV