How important is artist’s purity of technique?

Several weeks ago, my husband and I got a rare opportunity to spend the whole day together – just the two of us. With full time jobs (despite COVID-19) and the “second shift” of raising two kids, it really feels like a luxury.

Ever since we met in graduate school 15 years ago, we have always been big walkers. We lived in the Mount Sinai dorm building on 98th Street and would often walk all the way down to Battery Park. It has been one of the key elements of most of our dates. Needless to say, we have covered almost every inch of Manhattan.

So this time, after handing off the kids to grandparents, we decided to do something different. We crossed the Queensboro bridge and walked (mostly) along the water through Queens, Long Island City, Willliamsburg and eventually got to the park near Brooklyn Bridge. It was probably around 7 pm by then. It was a warm, beautiful evening and we crossed the bridge back into Manhattan.

And then something unexpected happened. My husband felt that his shoes were starting to bother him and suggested that we should get back home on Citi Bikes rather than walking. I felt bad for him, but something really bothered me. It felt like we were breaking the nature of our outing by no longer walking.

How is this related to my art?

A couple days later, I found myself still thinking about how we broke the rhythm of our walk. It felt like cheating. And then it hit me – I am a purist. I feel exactly the same when I create my art. A change in method interrupts the feeling of flow.

I started creating my art by adapting techniques that I learned when I created French-beaded flowers as a teenager. The method essentially consists of stringing seed beads onto a thin wire and bending it to form desired shapes. This is how I created my earliest works.

I started creating my #sciart by adapting techniques that I learned when I created French-beaded flowers as a teenager.

Everyone talks about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Some of the earliest steps I took towards this was when I began to incorporate crystals in my work. Honestly, initially it stemmed from laziness, because I no longer saw a point in making cell nuclei out of individual tiny beads. But it really felt like cheating; something like pasting magazine cutouts onto an oil painting.

Initially, adding crystals to my #sciart felt like cheating.

The first time I did it was when I was working on “The Internal Storm” – a commission that I created to depict an epileptic seizure. After searching for some inspiration on Pinterest (check out my neuroscience boards), I found a few images like this one.

It took me quite some time to figure out how to make the action potentials look like they are lighting up along the dendrites (red/orange). In simple terms, an epileptic seizure results from abnormal electrical activity in the brain, so this was quite important.

In the end, I threaded large red beads onto the wire and surrounded them with smaller ones transitioning from red to yellow.

The Internal Storm, 2017
(It is really dreadful to see how bad I was at taking pictures back then.)

And so it began… I used a similar method to create the red glial cells in “Tortured” to give the glial scar more volume and make it look more dramatic.

Tortured, 2017

And then came crystals. Starting with small ones, because it felt like these small green cells looked “blind” without them.

Finding Your Self, 2019

Progressing to making crystal cell bodies woven with seed beads for the hippocampus.

Fragile Memory, 2019 (check out the whole artwork)

And then I transitioned to using crystals on the vast majority of the canvas.

Have I gone too far?

Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think.

Art is my emotional outlet and my oasis.  I use art to express my feelings and work through life issues.  Come join me on this journey of letting go of control and letting the creative process take over.  You will get access to all of the behind the scenes footage and see the major breakthroughs that translate into new artwork.

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