Sunday, January 27, 2008



How much does accident or serendipity play in art? I'm thinking about the connection between my sumi-e and my digital work. When I put brush to paper, the feeling and feedback is immediate; I know I've done it or I need to scrap that paper and try again. In the same vein when I try to combine photos in photoshop, even though I've thought through the concept I recognize when something is not working. Of course, many of us continue to try and make something work when it doesn't. I think that is the sadness we may face as artists; letting something with promise go. In both digital and sumi-e sucess seems to depend on being on the knifes edge of a controlled accident. In the sumi-e there are variables; the absorbency of the paper, is it sized or unsized, single or double weight. Of course, even the term rice paper is misnamed. The papers I prefer are handmade and have proprietary formulas and are not made from rice. These papers have family histories and the formulas and formation are passed down. The papers can have a variety of fibers and of various length. Brushes and their properties offer many more variables. Horse, hog, sable - most any animal can lend it's fur or hair to a brush; each one with a unique ability to absorb and release to ink. Now - not to over analyze this; any real artist in sumi-e can take a mop and produce a work of art. When I imagine all the possibilities it it hard to imagine any art at all. Talent, serendipity, accident and finding the zone. In one of Victoria Cummings blogs on falling, she mentioned that walking was controlled falling. My digital work has as many or possibly an infinite number of decisions. Deciding on theme, start with scans or photo, what resolution, combine; combine with what. Use blending modes, inverse, replace color. Well, the list is endless. There are so many possibilities that I need to return to sumi-e. Sometimes I think art is controlled serendipity.
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