Abstract Art: Untitled 48×48″ (2017)

This is the only painting I have completed so far in 2017. I am a bit disappointed at this pace of productivity. I think I can explain a lot of this. Winters get a bit slower in general because my garage studio is hard to heat to a reasonably comfortable temperature. This was compounded by the fact that I had a show this spring which ate into my to my time getting some of my smaller paintings ready for display.
This painting is a 48×48” acrylic on gallery canvas. The blues were clearly linked to my desire to get my head out of winter. I hate winter, I am really miserable during winters. Nevertheless, this has been a rather productive academic year for me. I taught a course abroad in Switzerland, was promoted to Full professor my final professional rank, had a research paper published, and completed a month long show of my paintings. I don’t doubt that this explains the balance you see in this painting. It is one of my brighter attempts in sometime as well. I am sure this ties into a more peaceful disposition of late.
I am not sure how I feel about this presently. It came to me rather quickly and I am always uncomfortable when the composition of a painting presents itself soon. However, I felt it necessary to cease adding layers, to stop application. It rests in the lower level of our house and I like how it blends in to the furnishings, but I am unclear how I feel out it stand alone. Any thoughts welcome. Does it represent anything to you? How would you interpret this?
Kent Bausman

Abstract Art: Untitled #12 (2016)

This painting is an absolute break from my pattern of work. I think this is why I am so attracted to it. Clearly, I understand if someone viewing it sees a Pollock influence here but that was not the intention starting out. I like Pollock’s work don’t get me wrong, but I never look at his work and feel inspired like I do with a Frankenthaler, Newman or a Rothko. No, this piece is sort of a happy accident.

You see when I begin the process of painting I typically start with these little tube acrylics that fit in the palm of your hand and begin dripping them all over the blank canvas. From there, I normally take a drywall tool and start to spread the dripped paint all over the canvas. I will continue this repeatedly layering in all different directions until the canvas is full of color. It is then that something will start to speak to me, the emergence of various color fields. Nevertheless, lets go back to the beginning. When I start putting down those original drips, I do so randomly, yet sometimes I am taken aback by what sits there. I become hesitant to spread the colors around because I like what is there, no matter how minimalist it looks. All the same, I eventually give in and spread the color around. However, recently I was toying with one of my daughter’s little canvases and I thought about experimenting with keeping the drips in place, yet making a composition that I don’t feel is so much a rip-off of Pollock, something that is originally me.

That experiment worked out well. I loved that little end product, so I decided to attempt in a larger canvas. This piece is 36×24”. There are three principle colors represented in the drips, red, white, and blue. I always like to work in threes. I find peace in three. I am not religious, so I am not connecting this to the holy trinity. I would say I am somewhat spiritual, and so the idea that three represents harmony, wisdom, and understanding works for me. Let’s take that further. Notice that the lines are largely chaotic. Well, I would say that suggests at the time of this paintings creation, this idea of harmony, wisdom, and understanding was not in sync for me.   I completed this work in late November of 2016, and winters are always a real bitch for me mentally.

Still, I wasn’t comfortable allowing these drips to sit there all alone. Regardless of how discordant winters make me feel, I strongly believe that my constitution is one of composure. I believe that is why I was compelled to add that blue strip to this painting. It reflects a maintenance of balance in the face of my harmony, wisdom, and understanding be at times inconsistent. Never off the deep end, never completely out of control, FOUNDATION. The added joint compound to the horizontal line I can only imagine represents a balance that is not perfect, but remains present. I added a coat of red mahogany wood stain over the canvas to darken the tone of the composition. The untouched parts of the canvas were too bright white for me to feel comfortable, but if you look closely, you can still see places that were purposely untouched. I wanted to have some brightness remain.

Kent Bausman Ph.D.

The White Working Class and the United States great geographical divide

I hate the term “white working class” or (WWC) because it ignores the plight of working class members from other racial and ethnic groups.  Nevertheless, the term has importance, but it can be somewhat misleading.  When we speak of the WWC we should not see there plight only through the influence of economic restructuring in the manufacturing sector.  Their plight must also be seen through the lens of geographic isolation and a deficiency of human capital.

The issue of the WWC, I argue is as much a matter of the conditions of the rural United States.   By the 1950s, the majority of the United States had become urban/suburban dwellers.  Still, the conditions of rural places were not as dire then as they are today.  Since the 1980s, there has been a steady decline in the rural United States (economic opportunities, population, and social well-being).  This transformation has largely been ignored by politicians, journalists, and sadly my own profession of social scientists.

As we saw in this most recent election, there has been a festering resentment among rural residents and thus a significant segment of those identified as the WWC over this real form of non- consideration.   Although they are a shrinking population which underscores some of the reasons why social scientists are few and far between in exploring their social issues, as the electoral college recently demonstrated they are still a voting block that must be recognized (no accident that the GOP picked up states with larger rural populations).  This is where Democrats and Liberals have failed and I say this a proud Liberal who is a registered Democrat.

In January, Alana Semuels wrote the following linked piece for The Atlantic.  Speaking as a sociologist, this is wonderful anecdotal glimpse into this growing divergence in lived experiences that can educate on the “why’s” the WWC is abandoning the Democratic Party and why the educated classes are being framed as a pejorative elite.  Enjoy 😊 Kent Bausman, Ph.D.


Abstract Art: Tri-City, 48×24″ (2015)

This canvas was 2015 Father’s Day gift from my wife and daughter.  It is 48×24″ in size.   At the time I started it, I wanted to document the process of its creation.  I wish I would do this more often with my paintings, but the spontaneity of their creations does not always lend itself to such breaks for photos?  You can see that I initially toyed with the inclusion of some geometric shapes.  This harkens back to a technique I engaged in quite frequently in my early paintings.  As you can see from the completed painting I abandoned those shapes.  This was a difficult choice. I did not care about their presence in the painting and I wasn’t sure how to eliminate them without destroying the rest of the painting.

I started to feel my confidence shaken. I was afraid I was not going to be able to find a way to resolve this little dilemma.  After everyone in the house was asleep, I buckled down, spurred by a couple tasty beverages, while Amy Winehouse served as the soundtrack.  This is the unintended pleasure I get with painting, the solitary experience.  I like time to myself, always have.  Painting in these solitary moments allows me to clear my head, to silent any irrelevant mindful preoccupations.

I purposely set out with these color choices in mind.  They reflect colors associated with my youth.  From 9 to 18 years of age the principle colors represented here were associated with an athletic organization that I participated in Oklahoma City.  This organization was integral to the development of my self- esteem and confidence.   I wasn’t originally from Oklahoma.  I was born in California and every summer I would live out there with my loving but alcoholic father.  When I would come back to Oklahoma for the school year I never really felt like I fit in.  I was for sometime quite the shy kid.  It didn’t help that I was also a poor kid being raised by a single mother.  My mother signed me up for baseball and football when we first moved to Oklahoma City as a way to integrate me with kids my age.  I proved to be an above average athlete and this lessened my feelings of being an outsider.  For me, the athletic field was a true meritocracy, where my background didn’t matter. On the field,  social class divisions had little influence on how I imagined I was being judged.   It was one of the smartest moves by my mother.  It immensely assisted my adjustment to my parents divorce and our subsequent move to this place that was so culturally removed from what I was used to.

My successes on the field instilled in me a confidence I think I carry to this day, be it my unlikely pursuit of a career in academia or now painting.  I don’t want to leave the impression that I don’t I still suffer the pangs of self-doubt.  I do.  I think my wife and some of those who know me best would say this is the most contradictive part of me.  But, this too points to why I enjoy painting so much, particularly abstract painting.  It stimulates me to engage in self-reflection, be it my present or as this story tells, my past.

I am so happy I ditched those early geometric shapes…confidence to pursue a different path.

Kent Bausman

Abstract Art: Untitled #7, 36×24″(2012)

This is a painting I originally completed around 2010.  The geometric shapes you see were a part of the original painting.  Yet, the colors presently on the canvas, specifically the blues were not a part of the original composition.  Initially the painting had more earthy color combinations, some browns, yellows, and greens. The grayish whites in the upper and bottom corners are the only original colors from 2010.  I always loved the placement of the shapes but those initial earthier color choices never really spoke to me.  With that, the painting languished in my garage studio.

In 2012, I was afforded the opportunity for my first public show.  The gallery was called “Third Degree Glass Factory.   As the name can attest, the place deals more with blown glass art work.  In the front half of the building there is a rather large gallery space.  Each month they use that space to show non-glass art work.  On every third Friday of the month they have a free open house to start an artist’s show.   This was how my wife and I came to learn about the place.

At the end of 2011, unbeknownst to me, my wife sent the owner some pictures of my work inquiring about the possibility that I might show there.  Friends and family had been encouraging me to go public with my work, but I was always a bit reluctant.  You see I am more of a self-taught painter.  I took some art classes in High School, but nothing beyond that in terms of training.   I started painting in earnest around 2007, so my confidence as an artist was still developing.   Clearly, my wife had greater confidence in me as a painter than I did of myself.  That’s still a bit true today.  I paint for myself, and what pleases my eye.  Because, I came to painting later in life in a non traditional way there are still times when I feel like a bit of an imposter, but I have digressed.

My show was scheduled for July of 2012, and because of the size of the space I felt I needed a few more pieces.  So, I revisited this painting attacking it with blues. If you exam a number of my paintings you will see I am drawn to blues.   I frequently have to resist the temptation of using blue.  Blues are probably my safety net in painting.  I say everything thing looks better in blue (try it). I find peace in blues. It permeates my life.  I often dress in blues, the majority of cars I have owned were blue.  Blues speak to me, so when I experimented with the application of blues in this previous completed painting, it finally felt complete to me…2 years later.

Obviously, some would see a Mondrian influence here, but as an artist lacking a formal training, raised in the 70s, I could equally argue there in an influence from the bus on “The Partridge Family.”  In actuality, I think much of my interest toying with geometric shapes of color is tied to my more structuralist approach to viewing the world around me.  As a sociologist, I am drawn to an exploration of the patterns to social life.  I believe I have always had this knack of thinking and looking at things more systemically.  It is why I was drawn to sociological thought and now it manifests itself occasionally in my paintings.

Kent Bausman

“Winter Me,” 36×24″ (2010)

I have always been drawn to the colors in this painting, and for whatever reason when I look at this painting I see a face in it. I can’t help but think there was a bit of a cubist influence here, in particular the color choices (e.g. Picasso’s Ma jolie or Guitar player). I love looking at cubist works, but I would not say that my style of painting is remotely cubist in orientation.

As I said, I see a face in this painting and I think it is me. I see two eyes, a nose and a mouth speaking to various audiences (type of work I do as a professor). This was my first painting of 2010 and completed during the winter. I HATE winters, and I can’t help but think this influenced my reliance on darker colors as well. Winters in St. Louis are very brown and dead, it’s just outright ugly, which directly affects my moods. Any other time of the year it is a very beautiful place to live, but I digress.

This is the rare painting I tried to add my signature. I do not like signing my paintings, I think they are distracting, unless you have a cool signature which I do not : ).

This now resides in OKC at my brother’s house.  He and my sister-in-law recently got a house together and this was a house warming gift.

Kent Bausman

“Academics could change the world if they stop talking only to their peers”

This is a long overdue conversation!  Our culturally and scientifically illiterate society is the product of this limited scope of knowledge communication.  If the news reported on social scientific studies the way they do on medical reports that would help as well.

It wouldn’t hurt if we took the lead of C.Wright Mills here and also spoke in a language the general public understood.  Some of the most pressing areas of social life studies are not rocket science in their understanding, but we make them so with our unnecessary dependence on convoluted jargon.


Untitled #4, 48×48″ (2011)

This is a hard painting to describe. I started out experimenting with the application of joint compound on the canvas. I was thinking something sculptural initially but nothing ever made me comfortable. In the disappointment with the experiment, I reverted back to the comfort of a style that was quite common in my early paintings, the use of geometric patterns of color.

I recognize that this painting may seem very simplistic, I struggle with that too! Nevertheless, I have never attempted to add to this painting or to start the canvas anew. For reasons that escape me, I like the simplicity. As the joint compound experimentation can attest, the eventual completion of this painting was not that simple.

There are five principle color areas, I actually see them as 2 color areas separated from 3 others. The 2 areas apart from the 3 areas conveying a story of transition (this is my separate inference not the conscious intent of the painting).

Kent Bausman

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