Recently, a friend challenged, “It’s like you have to prove you know how to use every medium.” The question resurrected an injunction from thirty years ago to “settle down and do one thing.” I seriously consider the things friends say before choosing not to take them too seriously.
In college, I decided to proficiently use as many mediums as I was exposed to. The idea was not limiting myself when an opportunity came along. How can I know which mediums I like if I don’t experiment? Is there some rule about having to grow up and pick one thing? (Actually, there is but that’s for next post.) Early on, I was commissioned to produce anything from a pen and ink brochure master to oil portraits. I was paid for being good at the medium the client wanted. And how is that a different kind of compromise from posting a couple of paintings a day onto an internet shop?
What’s not to like? My polymath’s constant curiosity is satisfied on a regular basis, although an eagerness for expansion is often misconstrued for inexperience. One of my role models is an ER doc who plays tuba in the orchestra, lives with a sketchbook as constant companion, paints stunning watercolors and carved the Stations of the Cross for the church. I mean, what if the Gods of Art had whispered to Lenny, “Stick to science and leave Mona to Buonarroti. Europe is gonna need your bridge designs in the 21st century. BTW can you hustle it up on the helicopter?”
It’s the difference between the person who moves around a lot, initiates into global citizenship yet suffers attachment disorder and the person who lives decades of complacent security in the same town knowing the same people. One way is not better than the other although the ones who never experience a different environment are occasionally frightened by those who have.
News Flash! We all come to art making from a different perspective. Some truly feel our way through a piece while others of us think all the way to the finish. Nothing dictates we have the same process. Let’s not let our prejudices and preconceived ideas decide who is acceptable and who isn’t a “real” artist. There’s enough bigotry in the world.
Did I miss out on the deep dive? Possibly, yet as long as I keep waking up each day there’s time. The exploration of mediums informing each other is thrilling for me. There are a few I’ve let go of through the years because they don’t help articulate my vision. Others have strengthened and matured as relationships do over time. Now I’m exploring ways to combine mediums. Do we eat broccoli simply because it was served at every meal growing up or do we take the time to consider we might prefer kale?