I had a great idea yesterday, a vision of a series of paintings, specifically designed to suit the people I love… Not just a iconic image of rock or film stars, but something a little different, which I can’t exactly lay out here, but a kernel of a great idea. It was something which would have made great christmas presents for all my family. Each individually specific, it was quite simple. Then the idea began to morph, change from individual paintings to a massive painting which brought all the individual elements in to a single concept which was more about me.
This is the difference between normal people and artists. Normal people, who have the ability to paint as a craft, will have an initial idea and then do it competently, where as an artist, will have the initial idea and then build it, develop it, ruminate on it further, and possibly completely lose it because they have over thought it.
I did this once with a play I wrote, called ‘POLEMIC’, which was very nearly put on by a Manchester Theatre Company (thank goodness it wasn’t), The original idea was an examination of how people become locked in their own ideology and then cannot have a dialogue with anyone who doesn’t accept their point of view. It was a fairly simple idea, but with some great visuals. Then, I decided to play around with it… It was the nineties, when post-modernism was all the rage, so I added another layer of complexity, by having the actors come out of character, and pretend to be actors discussing the play’s concept…
As I say, it came very close to being put on, but it didn’t, because one of the producers came to their senses. It was AWFUL. Pretentious Shite. I was young…er, and with a head full of my own importance, I thought it was earth-shattering. I thought it was Great Art.
My point? The Artist will risk a great idea because of how their brains work. A germ will become a contagion, because they have the ability to conflate one thing with another and then chase it down a blind alley.
Of course this can make amazing art, think of Dali, or Basquiat… but it is a dangerous strategy.
So, nowadays, I’m not so taken with the conflation, I’m thinking why not go with the initial idea? It was simple, it was personal to the person I wanted to paint it for, so why not just do that ? Do I need to add the extra layer of complication?
Well yes… because in the end, the big piece is about me, the artist, and not just a craft exercise.