The Right Medium for the Right Idea

Simultaneously, as we develop ideas about pieces we have in mind to execute, the brain looks to create a blueprint on how we ‘craft’ the idea to its highest effectiveness and ultimate resolution. If we think about the nature of making a piece and its implication in regards to our body of work, most of the things that we make will far outlive us and becomes a fragment of a larger statement of who we were in life. With this as a backdrop, the choices we make during this creative process have long lasting repercussions potentially.

Think about how many artists who are no longer with us spark something within us when at some point we encounter their work whether in a gallery, a museum or in somebody’s house. The details of selection that that artist decided upon during the process of making this work becomes front and center in your ‘now’ experience with the piece.

As an example, If the work comes from the tradition of oil paint we feel and see this particular artist’s ‘way’ of expressing themselves with a material that is also available to the masses. However we know this piece was made from this particular artist despite that fact. What we are experiencing is a seamless connection of idea, execution and personality. These 3 things define an artist. As I am writing this I find myself thinking about the career of Picasso. He was obviously an outlier in respect to the world in his lifetime but also historically.

What made him an exception was his freedom to explore materials and then apply them seamlessly to his ideas. We all will have major and minor materials but Picasso viewed expression as his means of communicating through physical means. Expression number one, materials number two. I love his naïve use of clay in his ceramic pieces that almost look incidental. He had no prejudice against any material and saw the world as a blank palette of opportunity. His search was to use the proper material for a particular idea and anything was game.

When I was a teenager and I first saw the Bulls Head made out of a bicycle handlebar and seat it forever blew apart my belief that art had to be contained within the accepted. It made me want to see if I could see like Picasso. What was I missing or not seeing around me as potential art materials? Why didn’t I think of those handlebars and seat the way Picasso did? But here we are again, years after Picasso’s passing continually being affected by his choices as he made his work.

When we find ourselves saying to ourselves ‘I can’t use that to express myself or only use what I am comfortable using ‘, maybe it’s time to push further out and give it a try. Experiment with materials and alternative uses of known things. Focus and find your authentic points of interest internally but there is no reason not to push the material envelope. If you happen to find that oil paint just does it for you then become expert in its use and seamlessly connect to it. Typically we artists are curious. Trying new things and forms of expression might just unlock your vault of undiscovered ideas and insight into yourself, the world and the body of work that becomes your statement in life.



  1. Lovely piece, Tony! I think right now, oil paint is so full of possibility and excitement for me, that I will stay rooted. But glad to be “opened” by your thoughts. Wishing you both a wonderful, healthy 2017! xo Toni


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