Cosmos, 6 x 6″ monoprint, ink and pastels
“My studio begins at the art supply store. I imagine all the paintings trapped inside those tubes of paint.”
– John Ferrie
One thing that amazes me about art is the variety and complexity of what can be created from the simplest of elements and tools.
I know of some painters who use only 3 colors and white on their palette and yet they can create just about any painting imaginable. A sculptor with a piece of rock, a hammer and a chisel can form any shape the mind can conceive. With 26 letters, a writer of English can write novels, poetry or short stories. A dancer needs nothing but their body to fashion the most elegant of movements, a singer just their voice to sing an opera or a rock-and-roll ballad. The magic elixir that turns these simple tools into a work of art is the creative spirit of the artist.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to get sidetracked by the range of materials available to the artist these days. Especially when I’m feeling stuck, I can delude myself into thinking that if I just had a different color, a different brush or paper, all my problems would vanish. I have found this fascination with the “stuff” of art to be particularly common in the world of photography, where many people are more interested in the latest techno gear than what makes a good photograph. Some of the best photographs of all time were taken with what would be considered antique equipment today.
It is fun to play with new materials and sometimes that newness can actually invite a breakthrough. But it’s not the stuff itself that makes the difference, but rather the way in which it allows us to engage once again with our creative side.