An experimental and spiritual methodology
In the 1960s, Hartung had already begun to experiment with different tools altering their original uses. In the 1970s, as in previous decades, the artist in search of renewal, the artist continued to perfect his equipment, such as combs, metal rakes or the multi-headed paintbrushes, to better adapt them to his esthetic needs. The multi-headed paintbrush was specifically designed to create perfectly equidistant parallel lines, enabling the artist to produce multiple brushstrokes in one single dynamic movement. This new method of painting conferred an almost geometrical aspect to his work, which nevertheless retained its spontaneous and gestural dimension. On the contrary, the abrupt sequences of lines do lose none of their magnitude. In fact, the black brushstrokes on the bright underlying primary colours (red, blue, yellow) appear even bolder as a result.
In his numerous studies and works on paper, one can see the in-depth methodology used by Sam Francis in his search for new forms and techniques. As early as the 60s, he began to mix mediums with different drying times to give effects of expressive temporality. Each layer of paint constitutes a trace of a specific time. The use of acrylic and gouache paint is no coincidence. One might say that Francis worked with water as much as he did with paint. He used water to dilute his pigments and played around with the fluidity of this element, which enabled him to manipulate the paint. He experimented with transparency, layering and the reaction of mixed colours. Although he left his paints to react on their own, one cannot help but discern his deliberate and conscious gesture.