What is your painting about? I don’t know. What inspired your painting? I don’t know. Is that a painting of dogs playing poker? I don’t know. Part of the creative process for me is going into it not having a clue to how to start, what to do after you start and how the painting is going to conclude. There is strength and power of “I don’t know”. Not knowing gives you a purpose to find out. Not knowing is a place to start. For a brain like mine, a paint-by-numbers would be a challenge to start because there are way too many variables that I would be looking at and would know too much. Something that can be downright damaging is pretending to know. I would be misleading myself and others. Pretending to know would cause me to miss many things that would happen before my eyes that might be clues or answers leading me to know. On the reverse side, I would be discrediting myself if I doubted a gold nugget that might be a piece leading me to know. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck…
Do I know any examples?
Since this logic or lack of logic is universal I will give an example totally not related to painting. Over the decades I have been curious about my family heritage. Thus far I have very few clues. I have yet to do the family ancestry DNA test which might help but I am on the fence about doing that. A few times I have asked my parents. Each time I got a different answer. The last answer was the worse which was that “we are a little bit of everything”. The mind is now swimming in all of the possibilities and not knowing, trying to guess, if anything made or makes sense. I am left to try to be content with not knowing, but here is the kicker. If the response to my question was “I don’t know”, that is actually something to work with. I would then know a) to stop asking, and b) I need to go elsewhere for the answers.
Another example of this logic was offered to me by a manager of a book store I worked at. The manager was having a casual conversation with me during a quiet time and said “Reed, if a customer asks you for something they are looking for and you do not know the answer, tell them you do not know but will find out for them”. The light bulbs went off in my head. This made sense. He then concluded that if I did not intend to find out either, just keep it at “I don’t know”. Now, this, in the retail biz, seemed pretty toxic, but the brutal honesty of that response would at least cause the customer to seek someone who might know.
“I don’t know”, for me, is applicable to everything and that is a wondrous thing.
Am I talkin’ smack?
I don’t know.