Be Close To The Work
How Wabi Sabi, Thoreau, and Watercolor help me become wild and free.
It’s white space and margin and then, a mark of color and form.
Be close to the work: lean in, take off the glasses, use your hands — this is how I paint.
Be close to the work: observe all day, make note of what is worthy, don’t ever lie.
I want to be so close to a piece of work that it is, quite literally, hard to walk away from. If I have achieved the making of something true and close, then it should pain me to sell it. Indeed, the tension is in wanting people to resonate with a piece so strongly that they are moved to place it in their every day life — and yet, having created something that so accurately feels like a piece of me, I couldn’t possibly stand to let it go.
Thoreau writes, “All good things are wild, and free.” Watercolor is such a great medium to embrace Thoreau! I can’t tell you how many pieces I toss in the trash because it didn’t feel wild, and free.
Wild doesn’t have to mean chaotic, necessarily. Though, when paint breaks the frame, that is a sort of wildness. Rather, wild can be intriguing, moving, or disturbing. Wild can banish beasts. Wild can calm emotive seas. Wild can move the human race, wild can move me.
Wabi Sabi principles reveal there is always space and matter together; wild and free unfolding within a frame. My art is a constant exploration of that dynamic. Space as margin and colorful marks as matter that fill that space.
Poetry informs my art, and life defines it. My life as a father, a husband, a pastor, a designer means that I am seeing things every day through those lenses, standing in those rivers — and I would be lying if I made art that didn’t flow from those rivers!
This is what makes my art, “abstract”: it does not seek to represent external realities, it seeks only to be real — which holds the potential to cause other people to lean in, take off their glasses, see with new eyes and become real, too.
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Speaker, Artist, Photographer, and Futurist who specializes in creatively making things happen, Justin is a Pastor known for his love of people and passion for identity.