Mickey Bond: Experimental Techniques

Happy New Year! I was thinking I would periodically do blogs about artists I have met along the way that are doing work that I find innovative and fascinating. Mixed media artist Mickey Bond has been a friend of mine for quite some time now and I have watched her do some very experimental work. Her work right now is developed by using some very unusual techniques:

Bond creates abstract paintings using such unusual tools as rocks, broken tile and corrugated cardboard. Born in Israel to parents from Poland and Bulgaria, she was raised in west suburban Boston and moved to Santa Fe, N.M., in 1994. She is curator of themed shows and special events at the Jay Etkin Gallery in Santa Fe and Memphis where her own work is also exhibited.

Brenda: Tell us about your process.

Mickey: My process involves “inspiring resists” and the shapes they make when exposed to acrylic paint and acrylic mediums. A resist is anything that prevents paint from flowing through it or being absorbed by it such as rubber cement. Recently, I’ve used rocks, plastic wrap, pieces of tile and corrugated cardboard as resists. Some of these materials are partially absorbent — some not at all. Pooling paint and various acrylic mediums over, under and around these objects elicits interesting outlines and slightly raised textures. Next, layers of both transparent and opaque paint bring out what look like geological formations or plant-like structures.

My work is greatly influenced by mistakes, often called “happy accidents” or “accidental procedure.” My use of rocks and gravel for example came from a day when gravel used for one purpose (weighing down plastic wrap) lead to a new technique.

Because pouring, pooling and sloshing paint around is integral to my work, I often lay large canvases in my driveway. One windy day thin plastic wrap (actually the plastic wrap purchased canvas comes in) kept lifting off the paint on my canvases. Pressing plastic into paint can yield wing-like designs but not before the paint and polymers have the chance to dry enough to hold peaks and impressions. My driveway is made of gravel and the rocks were handy. Inevitably some rocks placed on the plastic to hold it down got mixed in with the paint itself. I so loved what resulted that I’ve spent several years now on a series named “Runes” as a tribute to the role stones and rocks play in that process.

Brenda: How long have you been working in this manner?

Mickey: My interest in resists began several years ago but I’ve always been an experimental painter. “What will happen if I try this?” or “oh, that’s so cool, what if I now do that?” are the thoughts going through my head. For the last year, I’ve been writing a blog about accidental procedure called “Try this at Home: Art Fun for Everyone” (www.mickeybond.blogspot.com) where you’ll find simple step-by-step instructions illustrated by photographs. There’s an entry about what happens when you add snow to acrylic paint, how to make ice crystal prints and the way junk mail and plastic bags can transfer wonderful patterns and color to many painting surfaces.

Brenda: What is it that makes you so interested in using such unusual techniques?

Mickey: It’s fun seeing what acrylic paint and acrylic mediums can do when treated with unconventional tools. I feel that I’m chasing a mystery and then sharing a sense of discovery through my art. For me the greatest compliment is when people say “I’ve never seen that before” or “I’ve got to try that myself!” It’s thrilling to create something beautiful yet unusual and potentially inspiring to other artists.

Brenda: Does where you live have anything to do with the way you work?

Mickey: Santa Fe, N.M., is 7,000 feet above sea level in an environment called high desert. It’s very dry all year round but we get snow in the winter and freezing temperatures. The summer can be extremely hot. I do use the environment in a variety of ways. The speed at which acrylic dries here, especially in the summer, is a great advantage. My work has many layers so quick drying is a plus. Freezing temperatures offer the opportunity to make ice crystal prints in acrylic paint on the surface of Ampersand claybords and on watercolor paper. All my paintings essentially explore the mystery of creation. This rugged, beautiful landscape was created over time by nature’s forces. I like to think of nature as lending a hand in my process and shaping in part what my paintings become.

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