I've started a collection of rare beauties - the small discoveries I sometimes find in the wreckage of a working day. Rare beauties are timid and they have to be ready to be found. If they are not ready I usually miss them. But once they are ready I know them immediately.
Rare beauties are very perplexing, mostly because they are so effortless. I work so hard to carry effortless beauty for any distance in my work and it rarely arrives intact. I truly love the zen irony of that. Paint has always been the material of choice if zen irony is your hearts desire. I guess I'm learning to be both more ambitious and more modest at the same time. Aiming for what my wise friend Nigel called "Informed simplicity".
My collection of rare beauties remind me that this work must always have an individual human beginning. It has to start with a person's ideas, their observations. They have to care about it. It all comes down to somebody doing a day's work. Somebody has to commit their skills, their fears and obsessions to carrying the work through one day and into another. Good artists learn to carry it past their own working life and on to others so they can recognise themselves in it as well. Really good (and lucky) artists carry it far enough away for it to be recognised by many other people who may not share their language or culture or history. Really, really good artists can keep on doing this after all personal trace of them or their working lives have disappeared.
We always know this good stuff when we see it because we recognise the best of ourselves in it. It really doesn't matter wether it's a painting or a flint arrow head or a sketch of somebody we'll never know.
Everything else is just retailing or interior decoration.