I’ve heard many people say of contemporary art: “my kids can do that.” I encourage them, then to try it themselves, don’t let kids have all the fun! Try to make drip paintings like Jackson Pollock. Or paint an object with encaustic, layering color upon color, like Johns. Try silk screening images like Warhol. You soon find out that in the ordinary gestures and materials, there are deceptively complicated and sublime twists. Our drips become unnatural and confined, where as Pollock’s drips dance, and form delectable edges that seem to undulate in front of our eyes. Our edges of encaustic strokes become unshapely, because If you try working with wax (as I have tried to in college,) you find out soon enough that it is unforgiving, making it very difficult to create a clean, sharp definition. The melting wax constantly oozes, and moves about, and the colors muddle,. If you are finally able to paint a stripe with bright colors, the stripes would not resonate, in ways that Johns’ Flags do.
And that is to speak only of the method of execution. Johns’ works not only collage materials, but they also synthesize concepts, culture, the zeitgeist of his day. One may be able to copy his technique, but it is impossible to mimic the complex layers of confluences that he is synthesizing as he mixes beeswax and pigments. To Jasper Johns, the medium of his art is not really encaustic, the medium of his art is Time itself.
(Via: Gene Veith)