thoughts about painting technique
There was a lot of curiosity at my recent opening in Milwaukee about my painting techniques. I was asked (more than once) about how I use wax medium and board panels, how long it took to develop my techniques, and if I worried that other artists would copy them. People also were interested in the process of arranging the panels--the thought process really--if these arrangements are preconceived or arrived at through trial and error.
I did the best I could with these--in some cases the answers are straightforward, in other cases the territory is more murky. I don't really remember, for example, when I started mixing cold wax with my paints, and what led to what on the path to how I now work. I don't consider my techniques to be something static or completely "arrived at" because they're always evolving. And certain things I do vary so much from painting to painting that there is no easy answer. But I tried to be honest and clear in my replies.
Most of the people asking detailed questions about process and technique were other artists--I either knew this from what they said, or guessed by the nature of their questions. I recognize the motivation for such questions as being somewhat personal. Which brings me to the question I found most interesting of all--if I am so open about how I paint, do I worry that other artists will copy or steal my ideas?
This one I'm very clear about, because I have been that person probing into someone else's technique plenty of times myself. Not only in conversation, but also in countless museums and galleries, or with an art book or exhibit catalogue in front of me. I've questioned, wondered, and made notes and thumbnail sketches about color and compositional ideas, the use of line or contrast, and effective combination of media. I've soaked up all kinds of things, some having to do with technique, some with ideas and concepts. It's both admiration for the work of others, but also frankly, an acquisitive process--because I see something in another person's work that I want for my own. Other artists know exactly what I'm talking about here, right?! It's right there in the heart of the creative process, all that taking in and mixing up, and forming new connections and conclusions.
I wonder...could it be that over time, the more influences you integrate into your own work, the more personal and individualized your work becomes?