Process sums up what you do to achieve a certain result: in order to clean the dishes you fill the sink with hot water and dish soap, you add the dirty dishes, apply a brush until the dirt is gone, rinse each item and let it dry. For most artists it means something less specific; the artistic process begins when the idea for an artwork forms in the artist’s head and it ends when the finished art piece is wrapped and leaves the studio, hopefully paid for. It may not bear any relationship with the initial idea – if there ever was one.
But in the meantime a lot happens. This is so even before an idea emerges, because ideas rarely appear clearly, or fully formed, or alone. Something must spark them. Even an idea can spark an idea, and then can spark an idea and spark an idea. For instance, the process of the paintings under “Past” mostly followed from the base color I gave the canvas. In one (“But, Being Masked, He Wasn’t Sure Of It”) I meant to incorporate a horned devil’s head, which led to the color red. Then, once I started the devil’s head, it morphed into a skull and then into a Venetian carnival mask. With that, a cloak appeared, consisting of 321 eyes, and each eye had an ant for a pupil. Then a fierce and arrogant rooster came on the scene, I had no idea why, but I kind of lost myself in him. And a monkey arrived with a very frightened face, holding up the left arm of a naked young woman, clearly dead. She has a deep, oozing wound in her shaved skull. Ants crawl from her pubic area. People wondered what I had been smoking. This is when I bought a stack of books on symbolism (1) and I learned quite a bit, about symbols, and about myself. The masked and bearded skeletal figure stands for domination by white old men, and the rooster symbolizes toxic masculinity. Ants symbolize a highly organized society, which rules and oversees every female body’s functioning and not necessarily with her wellbeing in mind. The frightened monkey stands for playfulness (the free enjoyment of sensuality and sexuality) and finally there is the young woman - she, well, she plays herself. This story doesn’t have a happy ending.
1. Among many others, Carl Jung, “Man and His Symbols” (Penguin Random House), and Anthony Stevens, “Ariadne’s Clue – A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind” (Princeton University Press).