Any given artwork is made over a period of time. The gestation period is inherently uncertain, a series of conscious decisions by the artist and other contributing factors outside the artist’s intentions. A marker could be losing ink and create a more textured line than intended, the artist finds them self either annoyed and starting over or pleasantly surprised and continuing. At each moment, an outcome and a reaction, a constant stream of decisions. The more chaos in the process, the less certain the outcome. If you paint in oil, make lots of preliminary sketches and perfect a technique, you may get a painting pretty close to the one imagined before the process began. But even then happy and sad deviations will occur. We don’t have the power to make our thoughts material in an instant with no mechanical intervention.
As someone who has very few concrete ideas of what I want before I start, I don’t aim for an outcome. I am much more interested in the moment by moment reaction to each new iteration. A very fast series of yes(es) and no(s) to the most recent addition. My whole goal is to not know what I will get, to work so fast and with so much randomness that I can’t possibly guess what the result will be. It’s not magic but a very good approximation, I think, and feels exciting.
The process of making a sidewalk face ranges from 5 to 15 minutes, about the time it takes for Decaf’s whimper to start getting annoying. So the evolution of the face is fast. Occasionally, sensing I could do better or needing supplies not locatable in the immediate vicinity, I go back to a spot and do a second version, my way of sketching and perfecting.
Most faces dissipate before I encounter them again. Wind or feet knock all the elements out of alignment and the character devolves back to a gunky stain or evaporates or decomposes or whatever.
But! There is one type of Sidewalk Face that does take time to fully develop, the faces I make in living matter. Aliveness and growth are additional chaos elements. I start the ball rolling and then wait to see the result, natural biological forces take over the creative process. It’s a collab with mother nature. How can it get more fun that that?!
Want to see what happened to him after he fell off? Check it out!