For many years, especially when my kids were young, art was hard to get to. There were just too many commitments demanding time and energy. I would occasionally succeed but it was sporadic. There was no continuity. I tended to do 4 or 5 pieces that looked like they belonged together and then stop. By the time I got back to it, I had lost the plot from the previous direction. I’d go in a different direction and repeat the pattern of doing a set of 4 or 5 and then stop again. None of these directions ever felt quite right. More than time and energy, I lacked a point of view to hold everything together.
This went on for years and years.
My body of work felt more like a random and grisly collection of body parts that remained buried and hidden in separate piles in the basement of the house. I very rarely showed them to anyone and stopped showing work in any kind of gallery setting.
Eventually the life commitments abated somewhat and I was able to spend more time doing work. Oddly enough though, two separate and distinct kinds of work emerged.
One was completely non-objective and had a lot in common with doodling. Also, I was using house paint which had a very appealing fluidity to me. The first piece I did was very large and came out of an impulse to let loose with some heels of leftover latex paint on a large (6 ft. x 6 ft.) canvas that I had. It happened on a sunny day outside on the porch and, best of all, it was fun to do. I continued in this vane with smaller canvases and boards. Each was different from the other but shared a common trait of chaotic energy. I liked the sense of energy and flow that I was getting. I also really liked that they were about instinct and required no thought.
The other (and opposing) direction was representational and definitely aligned to surrealism. The medium was oil paint and the pieces required a lot of careful work. They took a lot of time to do and the successive layers of oil colour took time to dry. The images typically featured wild animals (usually one at a time) set in an artificial environment (usually urban). Along the way, that drifted into images of elephants and polar bears set into more dreamlike contexts. Elephants standing in the midst of fluffy white clouds or a polar bear in a starlit sky maneuvering a tightrope. They were illusion and allusion and I have no idea what any of it meant.
I was working in what amounted to two duelling styles and wasn’t sure what to. In an effort to try and work it out I assumed a different identity for each direction. I felt that doing so would so would allow me to be objective – to free the process of my own interference. It was about getting out of my own way, I suppose. I could let them each style fight it out.
‘Hummygoo’ was the name I gave to the non-representational doodles with house paint. It was actually an alias that I had once used for a series of cartoons that I had stopped doing a decade earlier. ‘LooseCanine’ was from my personal email account, originally inspired by a much-loved dog who had a habit of running away after small animals. Sometimes I would go into my workspace and be LooseCanine and other times, Hummygoo.
Initially, I couldn’t see how the two ends would ever meet in the middle but they eventually did. LooseCanine and Hummygoo became one and looking at the progression makes it more obvious than it was at the time.
The long drying times and character of oil paint no longer work for me. I now use water-based silkscreen ink which is really a more liquid version of acrylic paint. It offers the fluidity of house paint but is permanent and colour safe.
A vote was taken and the ‘Hummygoo’ name was relegated to the basement (where the body parts had been). In name, ‘LooseCanine’ had won out. I had become attached to the idea of working under a pseudonym (or nom de plume). I like the objectivity it gives me. It helps keep me from getting in my own way by thinking too much.
With a name like LooseCanine, I feel free to do whatever I want. – L/C