Fred Collins Paints Water
Fred Collins paints water. So what is the big deal about that? Painters have been painting water for hundreds of years, Crashing oceans, lazy rivers, tranquil lakes and foaming waterfalls have all played roles in the paintings of nearly every school of art since the beginning. So why is Fred’s painting of water so unusual?
Collins actually paints the water! While he does frequently include various scenes of water in his paintings, oceans, lakes, et al, his ‘visual vocabulary’ is defined by his uncanny representations of the water itself. A technique he developed personally, which is refigured and refined with each new work, Collins uses eye droppers, hypodermic needles, and household spray bottles to apply the water to a canvas in a very precise manner. Counter intuitively, to my layman’s eye, smoother surfaces cause the water to bead up, creating tighter droplets, while rougher surfaces allow the water to run more freely. He creates complex images on the canvas by gently sanding the areas where he wants the water to run.
Once the water is applied, Collins uses automotive spray paint, ideally sprayed from just below the horizontal surface. When sprayed from below, the force of the spray is dissipated over the water, while the negative and positive ions of the paint and water attract each other, allowing a slight haze of color to gently attach itself to the drops and pre-determined patterns. Varying hues can be applied from different directions to achieve the desired effect. The water evaporates and the exact image of water remains. As far as Collins knows, this technique has never been done before.
Collins was left brain trained, an engineer by education and vocation and, as he puts it, a product of evolution, fascinated with the changing world of techniques and tools in the world of painting. Of course painting requires a bit of the other lobe as well. While in search of his right brain, he would lie on his back, gazing at rain falling from above and really want to paint the image of those countless drops. Fred, as he says, is also lazy. To try to paint each and every one of those raindrops in the traditional way would be way too much work…virtually impossible. So his engineer brain said “Why not paint the actual drops themselves, in their exact form? And evolution continues.
Collins uses these incredibly precise techniques to create such works as ‘Inside a Rainbow’ and ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’, in each case the water being so real as to invite a touch. And of course in his ‘Dancing Skeleton’ series which says, as he puts it, “When it rains in the desert we are all happy right down to our bones!”
Fun loving, irreverent, motivated by laziness and offhandedly intense, Fred Collins embodies the working artists of Tubac. Appreciate their work and do not get in their way!