The Wild One


Dear Artist,

There’s a challenging creative method which produces surprising, often mind-boggling results. Some artists do it instinctively; it’s the way they habitually work. This is such a good system that I would appreciate if you didn’t let it go any further than between you and I. It seems dangerous, but I almost guarantee it won’t kill you:

Block off a big chunk of private time. Prepare a batch of supports — panels, canvasses, paper, whatever. Get everything ready as if a big event is going to take place. It is. Squeeze massive amounts of color, vehicle, medium. Know that you’re going to be fast, like a Ferrari, so you’re going to need to lubricate. If possible work wet into wet. You’ve done a bit of planning. Turn up the radio volume. Go like a wild woman. Put your back into it — feel the sweat — the ache in your arms. Do what you always do, and then some, and calculatedly do it faster, harder, and, if possible, fresher. Let intuition and pure animal energy guide your hands. Multitrack. Stay thinking, thinking ahead, but keep up the concert pitch. Do one, then another, then go back. Keep telling yourself that you’re about as highly evolved as creators get. Be surprised. Make noises. Throw the stuff around your studio. Lubricate again. Stand on your own shoulders. Seize the day. Put down and pick up. Try new angles, different strokes. Exhaust yourself.

“Keep going until you are face down in the broadloom.”

In the morning go at it again but with more circumspection, care and tenderness — a bit here, a correction there, not too much. Throw out the unredeemable ones. Sign the rest. Don’t tell anyone how you did it. Savor the glory.


“Visage” 1947
screenprint on silk, 88 x 86 cm
by Jean Cocteau

Best regards,


PS: “Artists are the people among us who realize creation didn’t stop on the sixth day.” (Joel Witkin)

“Don’t talk about this. Never talk about your secret methods. If you talk about them, they stop working.” (Jean Cocteau)




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