Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"101 Things to Learn in Art School," by Kit White

I recently came upon the book "101 Things to Learn in Art School", by Kit White. In this slight volume I found many thoughts worth noting, and I would like to share a few with you.

"#93 Cultivate your idiosyncrasies.
Every hand, every eye, every brain comes with its own built-in distortions. These distortions represent your signature, your personal slant on the world. When they manifest themselves in your work, do not be afraid to embrace them as long as they do not represent an impediment to some larger objective or overshadow everything else the image contains."
This is a variation on the maxim, "Push your strengths," and it's another way of saying "Find your voice."

"#46 Embrace the “happy accident”.

All forms of painting, film photography, sculpture, printmaking and nonmechanical modes of production produce unintended results. When a passage of underpainting looks ravishing, or some studio calamity produces an arresting effect, embrace the accident and incorporate it into the piece. Exploit the unexpected consequences of experimentation and process. If you see it, own it."
My recent dabblings in watercolour have made this passage more resonant than ever. Happy accidents are also one of the great joys of hand-dyeing cloth. (Unfortunately, not all accidents are happy.)

"#10 Art is not Self-Expression.

It is the self expressing all the elements of the culture that has shaped it. We filter the ambient information that surrounds us -- from our families, from our communities, from the information that bombards us every day from myriad sources. We do not create this information: it helps to create us. We in turn start to interpret it and describe it to ourselves and to others as a means to understand it. This is the art impulse. Even works of pure imagination have sources outside of ourselves. Know your sources."
We do not live in a vacuum. We do not create in a vacuum. We do not generate pure, original thought. Our work is a reflection, a processing, a re-working, of all that surrounds us, all that has preceded us.  And so we have come full circle, to the first excerpt above. It is our individual perceptions, our unique quirks, our skewed vision, that give our work value and humanity.

To learn more about Kit White, please visit his website.

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