top of page

trAction Prose

The Origin of Traction Painting
When I was younger and less decrepit, I got into roller skating. Bought myself a pair of quads, which I still have. Years later, I bought inline skates. But as those years went by, I developed back problems that worsened over time. So I stopped skating.
During my skate-free period—in late 2007—I started working in the visual arts, creating visual puns. I had been a writer and editor by trade, with no training in art. Still, I figured (so to speak), I could come up with ways to represent words and phrases visually. And so I did, until late 2011, when I started to think about painting with skates.
I didn’t want to ruin my own, and one day I was in a thrift store: at $5, the pair of inline hockey skates begged: “Take me home!” so I did. I had some paint, plastic basins, a 9 x 12 dropcloth, and a 2 x 8 sheet of plywood. Spread out the cloth on the garage floor, place the plywood on top, poured paint into basins, dipped in the skates, and started rolling.
From that humble beginning, I moved on to particle board, large canvas, and asphalt. But, to put it mildly, the skainting (as I called it) wasn’t agreeing with my back. Bike! That was the solution. I already rode as therapy, so I started contemplating bainting, eventually devising several methods of apply paint via bicycle. My primary tools now are four modified bicycles, one with narrow street tires, three with knobby mountain-bike tires; multiple pair of skates (for others to use!); two Razor scooters; and a two-wheel walker.





Baint (v.): to apply paint with a bicycle. Portmanteau, or blended, word combining bicycle and paint. Bainting (n., adj., participle, gerund).


Skaint (v): to apply paint with roller skates; blend of skate and paint. Skainting (n., adj., participle, gerund).


trAction Painting (n. phrase): genre of painting employing bainting, skainting, and other paint-application methods with wheeled conveyances. AKA Wheelism.





I got a nice writeup in the Contra Costa Times on October 3, 2013:



One’ll Get You Seven
I recently created a 10 x 5 foot painting composed of seven pieces of canvas taped together. Am going to remove the tape to reveal seven individual canvases, which I’ll frame. Because I created the large piece as a unit, the individual pieces may or may not work from an esthetic standpoint, from my viewpoint. If I don’t think a piece works, I may touch it up before framing it. Because individual canvases are so small, I do such touchup by adding lines by hand—literally: I put my hand into a paint-prepped skate and add the finishing lines/colors. On the other hand, because process trumps product in trAction Painting, I may do nothing and let the randomness of the “tape and release” process speak for itself.
(Have complete the separation and stretched the canvases)
Summer Camp Articles
I chronicled the week-long camp in which kids created a large trAction Painting here.
bottom of page