Vernon Fisher told us undergraduates at UNT that an artist is a problem-maker. We go into the studio with an intention to make something, and in the process of making that thing, we encounter problems that we have to solve to get us where we want to be. Really, we create the problems, confront them, and in working through them, we create more problems. A working artist isn’t likely to run out of directions in the studio, because each piece conjures up problems that spiral outward into what becomes new pieces of artwork, and, of course, new problems.
In this way, and in so many others, the conventional wisdom that artists and scientists dwell in opposite realms–right v. left brain, passion v. reason, etc.–is just bogus. We artists and scientists love the chase. We love a good question: it gives us the occasion to focus our powers of observation and channel our experiences into the pursuit of Truth and Beauty, which is the dual prize artists and scientists seek, and is, as the Romantics tell us, a singularity.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
That’s what Keats says, and he’s right. In our hunger for the experience of Truth and Beauty, we artists and scientists look closely at the world and try to find new places where they might reveal themselves to us. It’s like a drug addiction, except that both seeking and obtaining the fix actually make life better.
This centrifugal cycle of problems begetting problems in the studio or lab, all in pursuit of the elusive, noble duo of Beauty and Truth, this is the grandiose version of how such paintings as the eight above get here. I have so much to figure out about what happens when I try different approaches to my studio techniques, so I lay out some panels, open some paint, and start working through and creating more problems. When the result looks good, I make it available to you; and, when it looks bad (which happens a lot!) I just paint over it and start the chase again. An art studio is just a science lab with more paint.