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Catastrophic Figure Paintings Reveal Cosmic Forces

Updated on November 17, 2009
ZODIAC ANGEL - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
ZODIAC ANGEL - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
DREAM RUNNER - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
DREAM RUNNER - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
AMORPHOUS ANDROMEDA - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
AMORPHOUS ANDROMEDA - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
THE BLUE SUBLIME - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
THE BLUE SUBLIME - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
WHERE ALL LIFE FLOWS - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000
WHERE ALL LIFE FLOWS - fluidism original painting, Robert Kernodle, 2000

Catastrophic Figure Paintings Reveal Cosmic Forces

Robert Kernodle

The same forces that produce heavenly bodies produce human bodies.

My figure paintings created from fluid catastrophes are little reflections of the universe. With these paintings, I suggest that outer space ultimately gives birth to inner spaces where liquid, living forms are born.

From Plasma To Passion

Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the visible, known universe is composed of plasma, the so-called fourth state of matter—the other three states are solid, liquid and gas. Plasma, however, is gas-like. Textbooks on fluid dynamics tell us that a gas is properly classified as a fluid—liquids and gasses are both fluids. Plasma, then, a close relative of gases, is a close relative of fluids. From this perspective, the universe is fluid-like.

Even before knowledge about plasma advanced, cosmologists (the scientists who theorize about the origin and evolution of the whole cosmos) modeled the universe as a grand dust-like fluid. These traditional cosmic thinkers might not have taken the idea of a fluid universe far enough. Their orthodox theories (such as the Big Bang Theory) seem to emphasize particles (quarks, electrons and atoms) instead of embracing a great fluid dynamic principle underlying all existence. Such a fluid principle seems to tie everything together.

Think about it: fluid-like plasma develops into hot, fluid-like stars, around which a fluid-based planet Earth (70% water) gives rise to human beings (60% water), who connect through passionate acts to create life in small liquid pools inside the womb.

Pools Are Our Proper Parents

I started developing these insights into nature and human existence during my first phase (Phase I) of making fluidism paintings. The paintings came first, of course, and their messages emerged later as inescapable truths.

Fluidism (if you do not already know) involves colliding small puddles of liquid paint to discover fascinating fluid patterns, which dry to become lasting art works. These artworks are catastrophic formations caused by violently crashing different colored pigments into one another. While experimenting with paint flow in this manner, I routinely observed spontaneous formations that looked like wings, heads, torsos, arms, legs, mountain ranges, stars and nebulae. I gradually started entertaining the idea that we all come from fluids—not just from the fluid of sperm colliding into eggs, but also from the fluid of water crashing onto shores, where I believe life as we know it started. I now consider this point of view appealing, because it reconnects human beings to a common ground. I believe that we desperately need this common ground to relate to one another in a shared world.

Catastrophe Is Creativity

Astronomers frequently draw our attention to violent events in the heavens. Exploding stars, collapsing stars, colliding galaxies, planetary upheavals, meteorite impacts, and other cosmic catastrophes seem routine in nature. By some accounts, space and time itself are offspring of a huge explosion.

These destructive forces of nature seem as much a part of the creative process as quiet after a storm. When we open our minds to the big picture, we might realize that destruction is an extreme form of creation. In the great scheme of things, destruction is not evil, accidental, undesirable or always ugly. Destruction sometimes produces beauty—brief intervals where amazing, complex, natural events unfold and thrive in stable formations for a while. Life is such an event, and this is why life is precious—it is our creative gift in a brief interval between intense, disruptive forces. The purpose of life generally is NOT to destroy, but to inhale and savor the moment of being.

Abstract?—Not Exactly

How can I honestly consider fluidism paintings as abstract art, when they reveal the ultimate reality? Paintings that are tangible reenactments of cosmic forces in miniature seem to fit into another category.

Maybe the original concept of “abstract painting” is not quite right.

We have come to label all paintings that show no formal detail as “abstract”. No painting, however, can ever show all details or reveal the complete depth of reality, so all paintings are abstract to begin with—some show formal shapes, some show primal shapes.

“Abstract” means to extract from something bigger, to summarize, to use a little to represent a lot.

I use little pools of liquid to realize forces in the biggest pool of all—reality. In this sense, my fluidism paintings are both formal abstraction and primal realism—they show the most primitive creativity from which the most civilized creativity is born.

SIZE: 24 x 18 x 1 ½ inches (each)


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    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      8 years ago


      I appreciate your reaction. Positive effects are the ultimate aim of my hubs.


    • RosWebbART profile image

      Ros Webb 

      8 years ago from Ireland

      I love this hub. Your work is unique and the photos are beautiful

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your choices of subject matter are most laudable, as is their presentation. Hopefully, a HubPages friend by the screen name of Qwark will find your work. I believe he will find it of great interest.

      Let me begin by repeating an earlier statement I made while commenting on another of your hubs. Your art is outstanding.

      In an emergent, fluid if you will, universe, the only certainty is change. That which cannot adapt is eliminated. The nascency of existence promises only one thing, inconstancy.

      Now we have the String and Super String theories, which seem to be a bit less rigid and a lot more elegant than some previous hypotheses. Being very new and very esoteric, they are, as yet, beyond my immediate grasp. But, in String Theory, vibrations play an important role. Vibrations and fluid work well together.

      Fluidism sounds like a very freeing method for creating art. Many years ago I became enamored of a slightly different form of what might qualify as fluidism. If one fills a large, shallow receptacle with water and then floats oil-based paints on the surface, the resulting patterns can produce quite amazing results. It is then a simple matter to transfer the paint to another surface by simply gently touching it to the water/paint "brush". The resulting images, like those you describe, frequently contain Rorschach-like forms. Some can even be transformed, with a few lines added by the artist, into an entire landscape. I was so taken with this medium that I immediately disassembled my very new Hagstrom eight string bass guitar in order to apply it to the pristine, white enameled body.

      I agree completely with the view of the life/water connection. The only small point of possible departure would be regarding from whence came the materials for the life that first formed in the oceans of nascent Earth. Then again, since you see the fluidity of the universe, you should have no problem with the concept of the ingredients of life being delivered to primeval Earth by comets or asteroids, the couriers of the cosmos. There is apparently a bit of reasonably sound evidence for this scenario.

      Creative destruction is certainly an undeniable fact of existence. Hence the legend of the Phoenix? Even in this tiny corner of the Cosmos, every major evolutionary "advance" has been precipitated by some major, catastrophic event usually accompanied by mass extinctions. Am I the only one that senses the imminence of another such occurrence?

      The purpose of Life is, perhaps, Life itself. Certainly, Life as an inherently destructive phenomenon is a non sequitur.

      Scientific experiments, used in attempts to prove or disprove hypotheses, sometimes mimic the process of creating abstract art. Miniature landscapes or computer models subjected to various destructive forces are often used to determine how a certain condition was reached. The seeming chaos of the universe is perhaps the greatest of all abstract artists and the uncompromising evolutionary demand for adaptivity the ultimate sculptor of life and existence.

      The belligerent insistence of Homo sapiens in defying and attempting to control, rather than coexist with, nature may well put a premature end to what might have been a much longer "interval".

      "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."-Albert Einstein

    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      8 years ago


      I'm glad you stopped in. It's always good to get genuine reactions-- positive OR negative. Positive, of course, is a thrill.

      And, yep, you'll be seeing me soon. This hub thing is addictive. Hope my "habit" (^__^) produces insights for others too.

      Take care,


    • keira7 profile image


      8 years ago

      You are a great artist and a good writer. I love your work, the photos are beautiful. Thanks for the info in this great hub. See you soon:)


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