The More You Make, The More You Make. So Make More.

The More You Make, The More You Make. So Make More.

I’ve noticed that if I leave the house without my good camera I probably won’t make any faces. Maybe one will scream at me until I snap a portrait but a reluctant one-off face rarely leads to another. Like a leaky water hose, some creativity dribbles out but it’s not intentional.

If I do take my camera then almost for sure I will make a face. I’ve intentionally turned the hose on so of course I am going to water a plant. And if I’ve made one face, I am very likely going to make another. And if I make two I will probably make four and the fourth one will really jazz up my day. At that point I am loose and playful. I am on the hunt, I am hooked up to a sprinkler dousing the whole yard in creativity.

Were you by chance looking for someone like me?

At the beginning of the pandemic, touching anything felt dangerous so sidewalk face making slowed down dramatically. At that point I was washing plastic wrapped bags of bread in the sink like dirty dishes to disinfect them from the amazon delivery. Boy was that tedious! With the feeling of an invisible threat everywhere all the time, it felt wrong to make faces so I did some with my feet, I only used plants and I went back to the archives.

Now I feel okay touching things again. I’m always wearing a mask. I have hand sanitizer and everything has been baking in the sun for hours. But all those months of reticence meant I wasn’t bothering to lug my camera around and hunt, hunt, hunt. So yeah, one would pop up here and there but was I making an effort? No. Did I feel enthusiasm? No. Was my practice thriving? No. It felt kind of far away and faded. It felt dry and dehyrated.

Recently I’ve brought my camera along and you know what, I’ve been regularly making four faces on every dog walk. The first is sort of should I or shouldn’t I? What the heck. Let’s do it. Then maybe the camera stays out, around my neck. The 2nd one is just happening. No need to question if it’s a good idea. The third is like oh hell yes. And the fourth is me wondering if I could arrange to do this all day.

As a matter of fact I was.

I can’t color correct them as fast as I make them. The last one I made is a new all time favorite. Creativity is a conduit, a pipe, a portal, a channel. You have to do things to keep the channel clear and open. Just like exercise keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, making more leads to making more. So if you want more, make something and make it soon.

Waiting For It

Waiting For It

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.

Agapanthus 1

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.

Agapanthus Early Days cc small

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?!

Agapanthus 5_cropped

Want to see what happened to him after he fell off? Check it out!