Art and the creation of an abstract idea. So many things to talk about, even more ideas and thoughts as far as the "how to's" and their applications. I think I'll start with:
An excerpt from my paintings journal.
Blank canvas, 13.6 inches by 47.2 inches, not stretched, just kind of laying on the table. The corners are bent a little and there are some wrinkles. It's a nice quiet afternoon, feeling healthy after yoga and LBRP, two cups of coffee, playing the album "Panopticon" by Isis as usual. I start by spraying the canvas down with a healthy dose of water and crumble it up into a tight ball and squish it under the oak table and let it sit there while I smoke a cigarette. When I was done, the canvas was removed and flattened out. I sat and stared at it for a good 15 minutes waiting for the shadows behind the wrinkles reveal an image - four ideas came to me, so I went with neither - the culmination of ideas sort of transmuted into a vague image. I start by angling a can of black spray paint at one side, creating a kind of mountain shadow scene. Then poured equal portions of yellow latex (about 10 years old, so it's like cottage cheese), gray primer, and red acrylic on there in random areas, laying a paper towel over the part where the colors came together and poured blue acrylic over that. Next, I sprayed white, red, and stone looking spray paint over the whole thing, laid a piece of poster board over the entire surface, squished it with a ruler in one direction, then peeled the poster board back in the other direction. Most of the paper towel came up and the peeling action made fractals and fire looking patterns. I sprayed it down again with white and blue spray paint, then let it dry for 20 minutes. When the spray paint met the acrylic, it spread out a little, fine cracks could be seen. While the top was crusty and the bottom still fluid, I scratched the dry layers with a needle, peeled some big sections back, then sprinkled in a handful of that black sand you can find in public ashtrays and let it dry. The whole time I was working on this painting, not one thought of "maybe I should do this" popped into my head; instead of thinking about what I was doing, I went for more of a ritual mindset, or moving meditation - just doing what comes natural and accepting it later for what it is.
Not all of my work is like that, though most of the pieces start out by staring for several minutes (occasionally hours) at a blank surface, waiting for light and shadows to play on it, at just the right moment, something will click. If I am doing a particularly large piece, let's say 4 feet by 6 feet or larger, instead of staring at the blank slate, I'll go for a walk and look in mud puddles, sand banks, wood grain, stones, rusty metal, spots of shadow and light, even a lava lamp (where I got my most popular images "Intelligentsia and Swan") and sketch them down then morph them into an image we can either relate to or think "what the hell?".
Although I consider myself an Abstract Expressionist, I also find comfort in surrealism, impressionism, cubism, hyper and hypocubism, sacred geometry, modern, and have specialized in dragons for the last 15 years or so. From studying and practicing art since I was 5 years old, coming from a family of creative people, I found that art school is a wonderful tool for some, but can also inhibit their personal expressions - they may teach how to do this and that, how to hold a brush, etc, but rarely do they teach a person how to unlock their true potential and I find this an abomination in the world of academia. Basically, you learn "art" as you go, what colors work together, textures to use, and how to really let yourself go behind any sort of medium. I also agree with Aristotle's Poetics, where he talks about the impossibility of being original and it is silly to think that one can be original, as the very term "original" does not apply in art, nor in music for that matter. We each see something, are inspired by it, and imitate it later on in life. Even at a casual glance at a painting or drawing, ten years later, we're going to use partial elements of that piece and not even be aware of it. Instead of original, I believe the term personal or something else should be thrown in there, it just makes it that much more intimate - uncovering the artist's passion and personalized experience is rarely shown through a painting, as a great and famous painter may create a piece that closely resembles a drop cloth found in the studio of a beginner, so it's not really up to the artist to say "This piece is good-bad" it's more about how the viewer interprets it and experiences it, how it makes them feel. To all my fellow artists - don't get caught up in hype, and please don't be offended by what I say, as it is purely how I feel about the subject.
If there is one Way for materializing an idea, I don't think anyone has discovered it yet. Techniques come and go, it's like what Bruce Lee says about Jeet Kune Do, "if it works, keep it, if it does not, throw it out" and I think this is an ever enduring experience in all creative endeavours. Learn from some, but it is most important to listen to your own heart, take an heuristic approach to your work and simply don't give a damn about mistakes as they are just clues that tell you what to do next, or what people say about your work. If you get only good compliments, push yourself to make something they might find tacky or dumb. If you get only bad responses, you're doing something right - acceptance takes time, perseverance, and consistent public exposure. Grow from no thing, expand your horizons, dip your toe in a little bit of everything, and do what you do best: making art.