The value of splodging about

One of my favourite words is splodge. I think splodging about is a highly under-rated activity. I’ve been doing lots of trying to focus on drawing in a ‘realistic’ manner lately – trying to master drawing well. (I sense this is going to be a lifelong pursuit! ) … But there comes a time when one has to splodge about, or at least I do!

I recently collected various cardboard boxes from the street and thought I’d paint them white to create some bigger surfaces to work on. While I was splodging on the paint, I was surprised at the interestingness of my train of thought. As my brain was distracted by the repetitive, unfussy task, I found my thoughts wandering in interesting ways. This I think is the value of splodging about.

I found myself intrigued by the many shades of white, the light, the grooves of the brushstrokes and admiring the organic non-uniform surface. I noticed how the corrugated cardboard puckered with the moisture of the paint, almost making the cardboard look like bubble wrap.

As I painted, I found myself wandering about what the boxes had contained on their journey to the shop where I found them. And how square and practical they were, designed to fit together and stack easily, to maximise transport efficiency. And it made me think of other containers I’ve noticed recently – all the Greek pots I was fascinated by in Paxos and the Roman amphorae I saw in the Almoina Archaelogical Centre in Valencia.

I read something recently about how it was the spread of container shipping in the 1970s which enabled world trade to accelerate at exponential rates. And arguably this was more important than free trade agreements or any other factor. I was lucky enough to see the recent Andreas Gursky exhibition at the Southbank Centre and he captures the scale of modern container shipping with devastating effect. The photo below of Salerno in 1990, he counts as a turning point in his career.

And all these thoughts and recollections prompted from splodging about some white paint!