I was recently interviewed for the September issue of Atherton Living. The questions ranged from where did I grow up, when did I decide to become an artist and how do you come up with ideas for your work.
Then there was this question:
What makes you unique?
“My work has presence. I often use bold, colorful contrasting colors to present a position of “here I am”. Since my medium is encaustic, the color can be very intense and rich. The surface is smooth and reflective. In some work, there is evidence of layers, a history, suggesting passage and transition to something better and stronger. From afar there is great contrast, but when you come closer you’ll hear the quiet conversations. I strive to create this feeling in both my small and large paintings.
I like to think my work is for the adventurous collector!”
Notice something odd? I side stepped the question.
Perhaps the question was ambiguous.
Which? Me or my work?
In writing this post I realized I shifted from talking about me to my work. Artists will often say “I am the work. My life becomes my art.” There is an implication from the interviewer as well that the artist is the art. These are two separate questions often joined at the hip. Time for surgery.
If I can’t articulate my uniqueness then I’m falling into conventional wisdom about artists and then, sadly, art. After listening to an interview with Elon Musk I’m embracing First Principles.
In a nutshell, we start our creation knowing nothing! We won’t believe what anyone says; we’ll just observe our doing. These observations are the First Principles. They are things we know and then use them as puzzle pieces to create a conclusion. We’re creating a new paradigm. Conventional wisdom is often wrong because it’s dated by the time it becomes conventional.
All great artists, scientists, musicians, etc use First Principles. Think Thelonious Monk, Picasso, Marie Curie.
What should a painting be? What should your painting be? My painting be?
These questions invite me to identify my uniqueness in order to express them. In this white and pink painting I managed to keep a first layer drawing visible in the final rendition. This is hard to do with wax because the layers want to merge with the requisite torching. I was in First Principle mode and kept testing technique and methods.
Let’s ignore everything else and each other when we create. Let’s run our own tests, observe and use them as puzzle pieces to create a new expression of a Painting. Our painting. Failure will happen but when the success comes it will be Original!