A New Art Genre is Born

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."   -- King Solomon, Book of Ecclesiastes.

When I see artwork that is unique or hear music that is really different, or taste a really innovative flavor combination at one of our local restaurants, I can't help but wonder, "how did they come up with this?" What was the creative process? What were the steps that led from the conception to completion?

I'm just a painter and I'm still in "learning mode" every day, so I have not "arrived" yet. I am no "art sage". But I have come up with a form of art that is (happily) my own. I call it "dialuminism". I love saying that. It makes me feel smart. You should try it. Seriously, it's a word that basically just means "light passing through" and it's what I call my art genre because that's how it works. I paint on metallic leaf, and so light reflects off that metal and shoots back through the paint, basically creating a back-lit painting.

And as much as I would love to take all the credit for what I do, I think it's time I "fess up": I am not the first to think of painting on metal leaf. The ancient Egyptians started it and the Greeks perfected it. 

I was listening to a TED Radio Hour a couple weeks ago and the subject was Creativity. The point was that there is nothing really, truly unique: All creative ideas build upon previous creative ideas. There is truly nothing new under the sun. What I gleaned from the hour program was that what we "creatives" do is basically take pre-existing "ingredients" (or ideas) and re-mix them into a combination that is itself unique. I can live with that.

So as I consider the steps I've taken, I think I need to confess that I owe my genre to the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. Now before you dismiss me as a right-wing nut job, let me explain. Around 2002, I was strolling though the Mt. Dora Arts Festival in Mt. Dora. One of the booths was staffed by a gentleman that created Greek Orthodox Icons.  When I approached the booth, the sun was shining down through the ancient oak trees and Spanish moss and striking the surface of countless icons, each painted on gold leaf, and I could not leave the booth. I had never seen color do what it was doing. Turns out, that when you back-light color (with light reflecting off the gold leaf), you amplify that color tremendously. I had seen icons in my art history book in college, but I had never actually seen any in person. What I saw stunned me. When I got home, I began playing with metal leaf and oil paint and I couldn't stop. Today, I paint no angels, or Virgins or baby Jesus's, but every painting I create now began with a spark of creativity launched off the face of an icon.

That was the beginning. But I have two other muses that have spoken into my art. I'll get into them in a future entry.