Behind the Art: Noz (Not Noz)

Who says a low-cost impulse buy can’t lead to cool art?

Not me, that’s sure. I’ve proven it can be done. After all, despite being only 12 square inches, my painting Noz (Not Noz)” has had a big impact on Instagram, where it has rave reviews along with several hundred likes.

I say all this not to boast (well maybe just a little) but to make a serious point. As an artist you never know when inspiration will strike.

And a bonus point…it pays to trust your gut on these things. Your subconscious mind just might be speaking to you.

Here’s how it all went down.

I was browsing through Flax Art near downtown Oakland when I saw a bargain rack with a small black canvas on it. I was curious about how painting on a black background would turn out, so I grabbed it and headed for the cash register with the idea it would make a great practice piece. 

Back home in the studio, I began experimenting with various combinations of greens so I could expand my color story. I was also intrigued with adding violet hues and scraping them both for a more textured look.

That canvas sat in my studio for several months. Then one day I was moving some things around and saw it again. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had the makings of a great background for an abstract piece.

So, I grabbed my idea folder and quickly found a drawing I had done of three shapes that could be like giant teeth or boats or homes. Or whatever the viewer saw. (And I have since heard a lot of interpretations.)

I started with titanium white as an outline color for the first figure. The minute the brush hit the canvas I felt like electricity was lowing from the brush up my arm and into my brain…literally like an exciting flash of light.

That energy carried over quickly and I knocked the painting out in no time. To really set it all off, I left the central shape largely outlined so the scraped background would shine through, giving it a more complex interpretation.

At the suggestion of my artist friend Sam Spano, I had recently started following the work of the late New York abstract painter Thomas Nozkowski. My piece is original to me but also reminded me of his work.

And to give the viewer a point of reference, I titled it with what might have been a nickname for the artist…“Noz.” But the “Not Noz” part of the title refers back to the band Was (Not Was), which was popular for much of the 1980s and early Nineties.

Now you know why I’m so glad I bought that little canvas and started experimenting. It was my first foray into used a black background. So, in that sense it’s a pivotal piece because I have gone onto go with black background in several of my other painting.

I hope you enjoyed learning the details of Noz (Not Noz).  Also, bear in mind we have reprints of this popular original in a wide range of mediums and sizes in a price range that many can afford.

Take a look at the painting and the video here.