Sometimes the artist will feel like a miner when he’s working. There is a unknown material lying before him with gold waiting to be discovered. If he “mines” this unknown, hidden area long enough, eventually he’ll discover layers of gold he never dreamed of. One vein leads to another, to another, and eventually a richer, deeper vein. It’s not hard motivating this “miner”, because he can’t wait to discover the next “layer of gold”. His enthusiasm is boundless, and the work is stimulating.
This is how it is when the artist gets an original idea. It’s a vein of pure gold that he follows looking for more gold. The vein (original idea) starts strong and as the artist explores it, it leads to more ideas. Many times, the successive ideas are stronger than the original idea, it just takes the diligence of a miner to bring them out.
What’s fascinating about an artist’s work when he is “mining” is how one idea leads to another and another. And the visual record is there for everyone to see. I’m amazed at some of the direction my work takes after the mining process. All of a sudden, I have a piece of work that only slightly resembles the original idea, but if you look closely, you can see that original vein that the miner first discovered.
I find this process and the products it produces to be wonderful art. So here’s the advice. When you get an original idea, start “mining” it, follow that “vein of gold” as long as it interests you or it peters out. Take your idea and look for ways to express it, change the shape, repeat it, distort it, enlarge it, shrink it, change colors, values, or textures. Use different mediums. Trust your skills and you’ll be utterly amazed at some of your results.