What sort of art do you produce when you are free to produce anything you want? That question might be complicated for two reasons:

  1. Do you know what you want?
  2. Do you have the skills to produce your art in a way that does justice to your vision?

For me, those questions were answered with a digital painting I completed in early 2001. Until then, I had created some interesting fine art, but I wasn’t focused. I was working with paintings, assemblages, photography and digital art. The most fun I had was throwing paint on canvas and moving it around. I loved that part! Everything after that — attempting to finish the piece or make it into “art” — not so much. I owned stacks of unfinished canvases.

I felt digital imagery held a lot of promise and I bruised my computer attempting to reproduce all the good parts of throwing paint on canvas. I filled up gigabytes of disc space with unfinished art. Then one afternoon I created the piece (above) that became SMOKE. Oddly enough, the feeling was similar to the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies: “And then one day he was shootin’ at some food, and up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude…” I had it, I knew I had it, and it was just that simple!

SMOKE represents no-strings-attached art. It was produced for the pure joy of doing it. But it has since become much more to me; a personal touchstone; literally a jumping off point for all that was to come. By understanding this piece, I understood where I could go with my art. That understanding didn’t have much to do with hardware, software or technique, but rather the A-ha! moment that exploded me out of the gates. I felt I could swoop in and around and through the image, and I could see the infinite possibilities for future art.

The computers and software I owned when I produced SMOKE are long gone; replaced with newer, better, stronger. Today I continue to explore all manner of artistic detours, but the discoveries I gleaned from SMOKE will forever fuel my artistic vision.

If you’re an artist, does your body of work include a pivotal piece which focused your artistic vision?

If you’re an art collector, can you identify a specific work of art which has come to define your collection effort?