Spartanburg artist recycles leftover ink and paint to create something new

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By Lucy McElroy

Some of you may have wondered how a painter disposes of the globs of pigment left over from their final pieces.

Spartanburg artist Addam Duncan decided not to wash away his leftover ink and oil paint after printmaking – instead, he created something new.

“I thought, why dispose of something that has such potential to be something so beautiful?” Duncan said. “And for the first time I found myself doing a series, I felt like it made the chaos have more sense of order.”

Duncan hosted the opening reception for his exhibit, “Residuals” Thursday at the West Main Artists Cooperation in Spartanburg, previously a church that has been converted into a multipurpose art venue housing more than 50 artists and 32 artist studios. The series remains open for public viewing through June 10.

The paintings featured show unique textures that can only be achieved through monotypes – a form of printmaking that allows for a single print. The artist carefully applies oily pigments to a glass plate and presses the plate to absorbent paper, transferring the image. Monotypes differ from other printmaking techniques because the pigment left over after the first print is insufficient for creating multiples. Thus, monotypes are one-of-a-kind.

Instead of throwing away the residual ink and oil paint left on the plate, Duncan used rags and a razorblade to clean the pigments from the glass to create an entirely new piece.

“All the images in this show were painted, scraped, rolled, dripped, flung, and smudged expressively and strategically to the top of a single phone book page,” Duncan said.

He then pressed a single piece of 100 percent cotton Hahnemühle paper to the phone book page, resulting in the 33 pieces displayed in “Residuals.” Many reception attendees read the prints as inkblots, finding imaginary outlines of tangible objects within the pieces.

“I’m inspired mostly by people, be it the subject matter or their reactions to the pieces I do,” Duncan said. “I think it’s amazing how many vast differences there are when it comes to the relationships people have with different pieces.”

Duncan is a founding member of the nonprofit West Main Artists Cooperation, and although he has had no formal art training, he has been a professional artist his entire adult life. The co-op’s artist members represent all walks of life and their techniques vary in styles and mediums, according to Duncan also owns Honor & Glory Tattoo in Inman.

“To aspiring artists I would say work hard, don’t give up, and most importantly don’t ever get to the point that you like your own work too much,” Duncan said.

The exhibit is free and original prints are available for purchase.

Visit the WMAC website to view a calendar of upcoming events.



Lucy McElroy is the Editor of The Carolinian. Email Lucy with story ideas, information, staff inquiries and advertising.