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Problem Solving

I am often asked how I solve problems in my art, I have never given it much thought until now.

For me the entire process of making a piece of art involves problem solving, from deciding what to do, to figuring out how to execute the project, to actually executing it, to determining when it is finished.

The first problem that I always must address is how to choose what I want to work on. Sometimes the work suggests itself through previous pieces. Sometimes I’m inspired by other artists. For instance, the Pink Faces Series is inspired by deKoonig and his Women series.

Another example, “I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes” resulted from some problems that didn’t get resolved in “of all my friends and lovers.” I thought that the center of “of all my friends and lovers” didn’t flow well enough, it didn’t carry the eyes around the painting like I wished. Another problem I have as a watercolorist is that I have a hard time leaving white space as is the case with “of all my friends and lovers.”

Both problems were addressed in “I Am Large...”.

The problems in a particular piece of art are how I use space, form and color to achieve a desired outcome, and that desired outcome, for me, is the achievement of a certain balance. Color and form both create and follow balance. Even when I have no idea what the outcome will be. I pick a subject and start working on it. Each layer, each brush stroke, creates a new problem to solve. How do I balance a with b? I do b then add c and that creates another problem, d, to resolve. I keep problem solving until I have few or no problems left. Sometimes I have to remove parts of b before introducing c. It is all an experiment based on my experience in adding b to a.

How do I know that c is what I want to do now that I have a and b? I suppose it depends on the piece. As I said, I look for balance. Balance does not mean everything is harmonious. Dissonances can be balanced. It is like music where one chord seems to have to follow the previous chord. No matter if the music is harmonious. In my work there must be some sort of internal balance, an internal logic. When I achieve that logic is when I most effectively communicate with the audience.