I first saw Jonathan’s work on facebook. He had posted a sold piece in the Murfreesboro Creative Group. I saw it and thought it was really something different. I tracked him down on Instagram and asked for an interview. My motivation for an interview was actually just so that I could figure out how he did what he did. I’m glad I reached out, because what he does is so badass that I had to share it with you.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I have been obsessed with various forms of art since I was very young. Though the majority of my time growing up has been focused on the art of music, meeting my wife (who is now an elementary school art teacher) really helped push me out of my lifelong comfort zone. For about ten years I’ve been experimenting with sketching and painting, but I hadn’t been very happy with my results until I started experimenting more with chaotic means of applying the paint.
Your process is a little different. Can you walk me through it for our readers? Do you start with an idea or do you just jump in?
The process begins in the art store. As I’m shopping for surfaces I try to see how the paint would end up looking on the surface, relative to it’s own shape. Stretched canvas isn’t something I use very often (though I have) because they are too fragile and tear VERY easily. As I am purchasing surfaces, I go back through the store’s stock of acrylic paints and will pick up two or three colors for specific piece ideas as well as a few more basic colors, like the primes along with black and white.
The placement of the paint relative to the explosion and the surface determines the layering that will result. Your bottom layer of paint(s), for example, will typically set the overall tone for the piece.
When I’m getting into the proper process, I first decide how I want to blow the paint up. At first, I used coffee filters filled with paint with a firecracker sticking into the paint, then I discovered I could also use glass containers, dixie cups as well as just putting the paint in a pile on the surface and put the firecracker directly into the paint. Each of these methods has resulted in many surfaces being completely destroyed, but as I dial it in, that’s becoming more rare. The way I layer the paint, either in the container squib (coffee filter or vase) or on the surface directly, helps to approximate where the colors will end up relative to one another.
I try to choose colors that compliment each other for the overall piece, then add in small amounts of a ‘spoiler’ color to add just a little bit more depth into each.
What drew you to this process of exploding things for art?
The idea for the process comes from one of my favorite TV shows: Mythbusters (as well as Mr Bean). I’ve seen them use explosives to try and paint rooms, resulting in wild spreads of paint and destruction. Having grown up in a family that celebrate Independence Day like it was D-Day, I was comfortable around dangerous materials like small explosives. My wife’s constant encouragement was the thing that really made me push myself into the process.
We all have things we want to say to the world. I felt exposing the beautiful nature of the chaos in which we are all embroiled was the best way for me to express what I value.
Do you use different grades of explosives to create different effects?
Yes, but that’s a piece of the process I’m still experimenting with. Smoke bombs are easy, because they are almost always the same. Blue is blue and when you light it you get blue smoke. The m-90/m-1000 versions I began using were so wildly disparate in terms of consistent strength that I had to try smaller firecrackers and eventually bottle rockets. More More important than the type of explosive used, however, is the material of the squib (coffee filter paper, glass vase, direct paint application) as well as its placement relative to the surface. If I place things in the middle of a board, I get a nice circular pattern. Placing the surfaces around the squib like walls will give a completely different effect.
The other awesome thing is chaos. Even if i use the same materials and placements, the results will always be different.
Jonathan has another video and a few more pictures of how he does what he does on Patreon that are worth checking out. You can also follow Jonathan on twitter or instagram – both accounts are @NSFWJonathan. And I know you want to follow him after seeing him blow up paint for art.
If you like his stuff let him know by commenting below or sharing his work.