“I’ve always painted with a lot of texture, but I didn’t start splatter painting until I moved here. This is my first studio that isn’t also a kitchen or a bedroom,” Dan Dickey says. We’re at the Tivoli, standing in his studio, where every wall is shielded with color-ribboned canvases. His grandfather’s mower hulks in the center of the room, swizzled with yellow, orange, purple, white and pale-blue.
“I brought it down from Virginia, but when it wouldn’t start, I decided to cover it in paint.” With a round, fox-colored beard, and his way of rooting himself where he stands, unflappably focused in flip flops and board shorts, hands firmly in his pockets, Dickey has the distilled presence of a disciplined man.
He shows me how he dips the blunt end of a brush into a paint can and uses it to make a controlled drip over the canvas.
“Sometimes I put a dab of paint here and here, you know, and then I roll the middle of the brush through it.” He indicated a wandering swath and then, looking at the long, paint-mottled brush in his hand, Dickey said, “I like this one. I think I might put it up on a long, narrow canvas, just all by itself. It has a pop.”
“Yeah, it does.” It’s warm, breezeless in the room, and I pluck at my shirt, absorbed in his paintings.
He smiled. “A lot of sweat goes into these. Pretty soon it’ll get too hot to work in here at all, but I usually paint a month on, a month off. So it’s all right.”
“What’s it like in the winter?”
“Well, it’s cold.” He shrugged, indifferent. “I like to work at night. This canvas, here? I got up to the crow’s nest up there, all whiskey drunk, and threw the paint down from there.” The result was thick, ridged tributaries like dried sediment.
I looked around at the other studios. White drapes swaying from rafters, ladders to nowhere, propped up against the walls. Large, industrial furniture slouched in the corners, rusting comfortably; the warehouse was full of coves where artists could work deeply, losing themselves in process.
“Yeah,” I said, “and in places like this, alone in it at night? You’re aware of space in a way you can’t be when there’s people in it...”
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