So Much From So Little


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.

6 responses to “So Much From So Little

  1. Mary

    Thanks! My type of monoprinting is actually pretty accessible – I use brayers instead of a press (way less expensive!). Lately I’ve been supplementing the with pastels, which give me a greater degree of control. I’m sure you’d be great at it so don’t hold back!

  2. Great blue, bob! (not only but the blue caught mostly my eye!) I encountered something like that as Dutch blue or Royal Duch (in the mark Talens/Amsterdam)… It,s very rare and precious, a kind of cobalt bule (but not exactly) combined with Ultramarin (but not exactly)…

    and that orange-sienna is similar to the Burnt Orange of Liquitex Artist colors…Orange but not orange… Great colors, anyhow…Just association of ideas…

  3. “Blue Eagle, coming in to land..” is the phrase that enters my head seeing this piece, Bob. Lots of movement – nice!

    With instrumentation/new music technology I find it to be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, simply an amazing new sound in my keyboard can inspire me to create an entire new song. But, this is the exception rather than the rule. Only today, for example, as I was looking for an idea for a second track should my “Derby” song be marketed on CD as opposed to just download, I returned to the old faithful acoustic guitar, which usually proves surprisingly useful in throwing a whole arrangement together, prior to recording. As you say, some great photos have been taken with antique equipment, and Brian may, Queen’s world renowned guitarist, rather than using modern ultra-powerful amplifiers, wires up dozens of ancient VOx AC30’s to get his sound. He has roadies scouring second-hand shops for them! so, I think, all’n’ all, when we’re being creative, and we cast around for something to give us that may be old, it may be new, but above all, different!

  4. Susan, Danu –

    Thanks for the comments on colors! Some combinations are so compelling regardless of what else is going on in the piece.

    Kev –

    Technology is always double-edged, as you say, especially when it comes in contact with the arts. There are so many centuries of history in the arts with little or no techno component and only in the last few decades has this shifted. It’s a lot to digest in a relatively short period. I think we’re still finding our way in this regard. It’s so easy to cross the line with technology and become facile.

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