Visual Monomedia: Improvisation in Painting and other Two Dimensional Work

While painting is not essentially a performance medium, there are many ways in which improvisation does contribute to it. Firstly, painters can, if they wish, introduce a quasi-performance dimension into the process, rather like the applied improvising of the writers in the previous chapter, so that the painting is completed at speed and without erasure. A few painters have extended this idea by painting in public thereby becoming pure improvisors. Secondly, they can introduce elements which produce unpredictable results e.g. rolling or throwing paint onto the canvas. Thirdly, they can start without knowing what the painting will be, and build it up gesture by gesture, a technique used by abstract artists. This is very different from the compositional process of painting a still life, or working with a definite subject in mind.