Bruce Katlin Creates And The Running Artist

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Simplicity Pump


"Keep it simple." How many times have you heard that? "Don't complicate it, keep it simple." I do like simple. Too many items on a restaurant  menu drive me mad. Too many check boxes on a medical claim form produce the same results. "Keep it simple stupid," an art teacher once told me. How insulting I thought at the time but the older I get the more I keep coming back to that wise phrase. 

The air pump pictured above is one example of simple. It's located at a gas station where I fill my bicycle tires. Not only does it cost just twenty-five cents to use compared with double or three times that amount elsewhere, it's simple to use and it seems to stay on forever. I know it sounds strange but every time I take the hose from its cradle I smile with pleasure. It's so simple: a quarter goes in the slot, air comes out the hose, my bicycle tires inflate. I am very grateful for this simple tool. (I do own two hand-pumps but they can't create as much pressure as the electrical ones do in the same amount of time.)

Alexander Pope said, "A work of art that contains theories is like an object on which the price tag has been left." The more I think about a painting or drawing project the less simple it gets. I've read recently of an artist who said that she has spent her entire adult life learning how to paint like a child again. Children do keep it simple until they start thinking like adults. 

As I paint and write I try to keep it simple by keeping critical thinking and judgements at bay. The same goes for walking the galleries at art museums. I'm not interested in the theory behind the paintings until I've been with a painting for a bit. If it interests me enough I may look further into the artist's thoughts or motivations behind her work. Too much talk about the craft complicates the experience for me.

So, like the simple twenty-five cent air pump I will try to keep my work simple by turning it into play just like a child.