I’ve made some lovely jars of paint. Now what?
I have now been living in Sheffield for over two months and, frankly, I think I’m doing rather ruddy well. I have secured a house and a studio space. I am critically engaged with an increasingly intriguing aspect of my artistic practice, I have another job that allows me to purchase art materials and pay the bills, and most significantly of all, I’ve got myself two bloody lovely bedside cabinets made from old apple crates.
If I reflect upon my artistic output over the last two months it is fair to conclude that, despite a lack of much actual practical work, it is clear that the notion and process of making paint is increasingly embedding itself as the spine of my artistic output. If anyone were to ask me what kind of art I do, I’d reply assertively with the bellow ‘Well, I make paints using food.’
Yet the process of making paint is not yet a comfortable one: There are still mistakes to be made, egg shells to be cracked in vain, and plenty of grounded food to be condemned to the bin due to some kind of ‘experimental’ failure. There is something fundamentally engaging about artistic practice that is not processional, and a great deal of professional development is emerging with regard to the physical practice of making paint. My confidence in producing quality paint is ever increasing, and eventually I hope that no egg shell will be cracked in vain.
Yet there are still questions to be raised and answers to be given. And one particularly nagging question I find myself posed with currently is ‘what exactly is my end result?’ Is it art, or a commercial product?
The answer, I believe, is both. There is no reason a jar of paint cannot be subjectively engaged with. Yet at the same time, the very reason for a jar of paint is for it to be used. Therein lies a great source of intrigue. If I consider my paint to be a work of art, then it is an evasive one. It doesn’t possess an identity because it has not yet been used. And if it does get used, the conceptions and associations contained within it will still remain: It is possible for my work to exist within another’s work. Incognito, it will not be experienced as pure paint, yet it will always be there, hidden within.
And if it’s a commercial product, then it is one that possesses spiritual and conceptual value. The beauty here is that I am able to market my paint both as a work of art and as a product. A win-win situation, if you will: I am able to exploit the rich conceptual element of my work in order to concern myself with exhibition proposals and research grants, and I am able to provide the public and artists with a unique and usable product. So I guess all that’s left to do now is stop talking and go out there and bloody well sell!