Artie Brennan’s art projects have taken over his home, he admitted with a chuckle. His spare bedroom closet is set up for pen and ink drawing. His garage is set up for painting. But recently one project has taken over more than the others.
Since January, the Village of Duval resident has made about 40 paintings using a popular technique known as fluid art. The technique comprises different methods of transferring a rainbow of acrylic paint colors onto a canvas to create an abstract design.
“It’s not hard to do, I don’t think it takes much talent,” Brennan said. “But it comes out very interesting, they’re very colorful.”
Though never formally trained, Brennan developed an interest in art at an early age. Housebound for long periods due to illness, Brennan spent his ample free time copying images from magazines.
He didn’t have much time to pursue the hobby during his career fixing up apartments, but took night classes for oil painting.
It wasn’t until retirement that he had the time to hone his painting skills.
“Since I came here I’ve been doing it more than ever,” he said.
A member of two art leagues in The Villages, Brennan had seen artists sell their own fluid art pieces.
Once again remaining home due to COVID-19, Brennan had the time to try it for himself.
Brennan begins by separating multiple colors into cups and mixing them with glue and paint thinner to create the desired consistency. He then layers the colors in a larger cup, carefully flips the cup upside down and releases to let the paint cascade over the canvass.
He makes space in his garage for these types of paintings because they are messy business. He uses a cardboard box lined with plastic to catch the excess paint.
“And that’s where it drips all over your hands,” Brennan said. “A lot of people use rubber gloves but I don’t bother with that, I just wash my hands.”
He said it took a couple weeks, and some trial and error to get it right. If the paint is too thick, it doesn’t flow easily. Too thin, and the colors blend together.
“I had a couple that didn’t turn out so well,” Brennan said. “They were bumpy and the paint didn’t mix properly.”
Even now, he is still perfecting the technique.
“I did two yesterday I’m not crazy about,” he said. But he doesn’t mind the practice.
He said the technique is not as tedious as drawing which requires more attention to detail. He said it makes time spent at home move quickly.
“Plus I don’t sleep well so a lot of times I’ll be (painting) at 2 or 3 in the morning in the middle of the night,” he said.
Brennan said he is running out of room to keep all the paintings he has accumulated. He has since given 10 away to friends. Since he wasn’t able to sell any in the art league’s annual summer show, he has also tried to sell some from his driveway.
He has no plans to stop any time soon, and has set lofty standards for his art.
“I sign my paintings ‘Raphael’ because that’s my middle name,” he said, “and I say they can take home an original Raphael.”
Staff Writer Liz Coughlin can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.