The Heaviest Paint Brush

Chris Crewe
Jul 18 · 4 min read

Making Paint Dance With A Sledgehammer.

What goes up must come down; up and coming painter in Toronto Chris Crewe has developed a method of painting now known as Slam Painting.

He learned to use a sledgehammer to make large pop art paintings with carnival clowns who each receive a sledgehammer hit full of paint in one of the eyes.

Recently, he has been working on a series of large Abstract Paintings which have him feeling very cosmic and very present at the moment, ready to grab what’s there.

He uses a Sledgehammer as a paintbrush, which makes a bigger splash. He believes it to be the heaviest thing on a stick one could conceptualize as a paint brush. This brush feels like it can warp space and time for a second while making the paint dance in supernatural ways.

Using a Sledgehammer is awkward and clumsy and can deliver the most fascinating brush stroke; paint flies in every direction, when everything settles and he takes a look… he sometimes jumps up and down and says he feels like he has won the lottery.

Every time the paint flies into space and makes unique and creative paintings with movement, he can predict and engineer these marks as shown in the Pop Art Clown Series he has come to believe that art is an explosion; the sledgehammer is a fascinating tool which we can expect to see much more of in contemporary painting.

Sledgehammer Painting, also known as Explosion Painting or Slam Painting, developed as a response to other contemporary forms of painting such as drip painting and splash painting. There is a stark contrast in force and physics, between the marks he makes and the ones he sees from them. Chris represents the maximum force and velocity, warp speed to create a small big bang on canvas, a miracle in time captured forever.

When the violent event is over and everything settles and it's all said and done, we can delight in the opulence and energy together, admire the force and chaos of the beautiful disaster that was caught in time.

Chris uses cans of latex house paint and fine grade acrylics to make large paintings in both an abstract and a pop-art style.

The sledgehammer is a magnificent paintbrush, it is delicate and clumsy; difficult to use but can deliver the most fascinating brush stroke. It is the complete opposite of the horsetail brush in Chinese brush painting which he learned for years of his childhood. He throws around paint in different ways, smearing it on the head of the hammer, dropping a glob onto the canvas first, sometimes He fills a small vessel with paint and slams down on it creating a crash like explosion.

These paintings attract people who are looking for authenticity in art. Each of these is one miniature explosion that remains captured forever using acrylic polymer to record the event, it is fascinating to look and see that an arm of paint has spiraled around in the air 8–9 times twisting two colors together before it landed back on the canvas, the paint jumps from the center explosion and creates small islands of bare canvas or “non-paint” near and around the parameter of the middle.

All variations of color are the numerous color combinations which are born from the force, patterns that paint sometimes makes as it skips across the surface of the canvas, the indent in the cloth from the weight of the hammer, now and then breaking the fabric it pierces through to the wooden floor. Sometimes it pierces reality and for a second; down the rabbit hole to see as much as possible, some random moment in my kitchen with Swifter in hand will be when we discover a life answer for a moment.

Chris throws around paint in all kinds of different ways, smearing it on the head of the hammer, dropping a glob onto the canvas first, sometimes filling a small vessel with paint and slamming down on it, some hammer loads that look like a cartoon birthday cake with all colours of icing before I slam down with maximum force.

What has developed like muscle over time is the artist's instinct to grab moments in time; then slam down the loaded sledgehammer on a new stretched canvas. Realizing when everything becomes ready to grab and swing; grabbing the moment feels like catching rung after rung on a trapeze and knowing they will be there. The biggest splash is made with the Sledgehammer and paint, but only when it’s time, I rarely regret a mark, however I am always learning.

Often times the paint gets angry before settling; it bubbles and mixes in strange ways, other times the dried paint cracks like the floor of a desert adding a new level of weirdness to the aftermath of the explosion.

Chris’ work is an endless source of inspiration, when someone has a chance to encounter one of his works they will begin to gaze at a small nuance or intricacy that was not noticed before, it is one hand clapping endless source of the right kind of energy.

“You will see a starting point and let your mind get lost for a while in contemplation; I hope that you will dream.”

Chris Crewe | 2019

Chris Crewe

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The Toronto-based artist is currently experimenting with a practice he calls Sledgehammer Painting (Slam Painting) in an Abstract and Pop-Art style.

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