Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rebellion Became an Embrace

For about 25 years I was a cabinet maker.   It’s a world of minute detail:  blueprints, trim, and tight spaces.  Add to that delicate finishes, matching color samples, and pristine installations in expensive homes.

Creating large scale abstract art was a way of taking a break from the fastidiousness of the trade.  Throwing, splashing, thrashing, and dripping fields of paint became a refuge from the demands of the industry. 

However, at the turn of the century circumstances led to a break from cabinet making, as I spent several seasons remodeling and finishing my parent’s home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  

About five years later, my bride’s career in higher education took us to the mountains of North Carolina. I found myself back in the field of high end interior woodworking.  

A custom Maple entry door.

After several years of carpentry and drywall, I found myself poorly suited to the demands of cabinet making.  I’d lost my edge….

It took a few years to sharpen up. Those times were marked with frustration and dissatisfaction and eventually with the real estate collapse of 2008 I was laid off.  I’ve kept my tools but haven’t returned to cabinet making.

Deb’s career has gone forward and the opportunity to pursue my art career is in full flight.  I make this preamble to say that I don’t have much to rebel against any more:  times are good.

As such, the thrashing and running paint techniques of my large scale abstract art had become more of a habit than a reality.  Interestingly, now that the requirements of the field are removed I have discovered that the skills and orientation of my woodworking experience persist.

They have filtered back into my creative life.  

After being away for five years the clean lines and processes re-emerge.  I am not back in the shop polishing fine hardwoods, but I am drafting, laying down clean edges, building structures and enjoying the technical facility that decades of shop experience has instilled in me.  Yay!

The contrary days have passed.  These are quieter thoughtful times.  The means have changed, and the ends necessarily so.  What was rebellion has become an embrace. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Curious Vision

Artwork is the perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

"Information" Hanne Darboven, 1973, artist's book, 72 pages

This dictum is well illustrated by a very unusual piece on display at the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC) exhibition, “At the Hub of Things”.  The work by Hanne Darboven, entitled “27K-No8-No26” consists of nearly 150 typewritten sheets which are framed in classic skinny black metal frames.

The grid is fine, although the arrangement is asymmetrical:  7 rows of 19, and a bottom row of 16.  The bottom row is perhaps 4 feet below eye level so it isn’t immediately evident, but the arrangement is very curious.

And the typing on each page is also vastly curious:  mathematic formulas, groupings that add one character per sheet, hand written notes delineating every ten marks; enigmatic formulas that follow the arrangement of numerals, characters, punctuation marks…funky, bizarre, compulsive. 

The dozens of typewritten pages are not a single sequence.  Several different ideas make the collection all the more interesting.  I’ve never heard of this artist, but the piece got me to search a little, check it out, and learn some— pretty cool, pretty fun. 

Her work on Google Images reveals page after page as her modus operandi: whether scribbles, numbers (numerals actually), or equations, the incessant nature of her artwork/installations is a hallmark.

Hanne Darboven’s artwork at the Hirshhorn exhibition is quite unusual.  The ubiquitous 70’s grid got filled with Darboven’s personal formulas and mathematical progressions.  All that empty space, every bit of it is earnestly filled. 

”27K-No8-No26”, as its title might suggest, is different from the other pieces displayed at the Hirshhorn, even though it shared some basic formal elements of grid, repetition, and text.  Really different; it’s the result of an artwork which is entirely idea based, rather than aesthetically based.

(Hanne Darboven, photo by Gianfranco Gorgoni, date unknown)

Hanne Darboven’s artwork made me realize that I knew how to look at abstract paintings, but that viewing conceptual art was a different experience.  It was fun to have disorientation again when confronted by artwork--from the 70's!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Stillness Project

When I read the phrase, “Receive my Peace” in Susan Young’s daily devotional Jesus Calling I knew I had the bones of a nice inspirational image for the Facebook.

In the throes of my new grid based artworks, the idea had morphed into arrays of individual panels.  I’d just completed a couple dozen small white boxes.  Moving the piles around had gotten interesting as I began stacking them artfully.  I’d taken 62 photos as each box added to the stack made for a new arrangement.

There would be plenty to choose from to illustrate the “Receive My Peace” concept.

Surprisingly, this was not the case.  Looking with the guiding principle of “Peace” I found these images—every one of them—very busy.  

This was disturbing.  I thought that these little white boxes were undeniably quiet works.  No.

For a guy who uses “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34) in his artist’s statement, I had some thinking to do.
Cube Drawing,  Graphite and Acrylic on Prepared Paper  1993  ©   James Thatcher

What was peace and how is it expressed?

Layout Template for "Discovering the Broken Obelisk" , Artist's Book, The Art Library, Brooklyn, NY
The concept of “stillness” came forward:  the square is a practical expression of equilibrium and balance because it is equal on all sides.  It can be an effective symbol of stillness.  

Surface quality was something to consider as well.  Is my signature heavy texture indicative of peace?  Not so much…

Then, in a conversation with a friend about “The Stillness Project” the idea of the color of peace came up.  What is the color of peace?  
Yves Klein regarding the color "Blue"     photo credit Harry Shunk

Perhaps it’s not one color but a range with peaceful application? 

This is the path I am choosing at the moment.  

Peace is alert with conscious choices occurring.  It isn’t sleep, right?  It’s a state of being.  Going back to the original idea, we are to “Receive His Peace”.  Being in the world, but not of the world; it is a gift from The Prince of Peace which we either accept or reject.  


Sunday, September 7, 2014

35 Years Later: The Monet Experience

In autumn of 1980 I lived with the Richard K. Thomas family in Potomac, MD for 3 months and ended up staying in Washington, DC for 10 years. During those first months Rich and I would ride into DC almost daily—Rich to his office and post as Chief Economic Correspondent for Newsweek Magazine, me to museums and galleries to gorge on art.

On a visit to the National Gallery (West Wing) I found copyists diligently working before paintings of old.  This was like something out of an art history book where artists of a certain period copied the masters.  I decided I’d better do the same if I had any intention of being a serious artist.

A brilliant job of rendering Rembrandt

Quick conversations with the copyists got me to the Registrar's Office for my own application.  (You can review the process for receiving a copyist permit for the National Gallery's West Wing here.)  A month later, after reference letters, the interview and background checks I was in the mix.  

I made two dreadful renditions of Monet’s “Rouen Cathedral in Afternoon Light”.  One wasn’t enough.  Clearly Monet didn’t have Grumbacher oil paints at his disposal during the late 1800’s…and my canvases weren’t proportioned correctly….  Still it was surprising that the second copy was no better than the first.  Luckily no photo evidence exists of this work.

But the experience is all about the influence, rather than the objects themselves.  Monet’s palette became internalized regardless of mismatching colors.  I chose Monet because I was having color problems, (which continued), but decades later this experience is where I go for color choices and relationships.  

The real deal, Monet's "Rouen Cathedral in Afternoon Light"

More subtle and surprising was the effect of the Impressionist surface.  Texture has become a subject in its own right in my recent work.  I’ve been doing fairly heavy textures in my artwork since 1992, referencing  Julian Schnabel and Anselm Kiefer's paintings from the 1980’s.  But this interest really traces back to the Monet experience.

Hay and Bulrushes embedded in Latex Paint, 1 of 18, "Arrayed", James Thatcher © 2014

Reducing my imagery in the recent grid paintings, I’ve come to understand the profound influence of copying Monet.  Not in becoming a plein air painter; not in terms of emulating Impressionism, but in fundamental terms of palette and surface texture. 

"After Monet", Cat Litter, Wood Chips, Latex Paints and Acrylic on Canvas, James Thatcher © 2004-2014

Color and texture are my current subject matter.  Thirty-five years later essential elements of the Monet experience fuel my work.  Who would know, who could tell?  It wasn’t exactly copying the “old masters” but it has provided a constant foundation to my paintings and technique.  

"Monet Rouge", Hay, Bulrushes, Latex Paint and Acrylic on Plywood Panel, James Thatcher © 2014

Copying Monet's "Rouen Cathedral in Afternoon Light" hasn’t been the only influence on my artwork, but it has been fascinating to see it in light of current developments in the studio.  I was surprised and wanted to share the discovery.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Moment in the Studio

Recently, I had a moment in the studio that made me stop everything! 
You know how you’ll have your agenda set, your process well directed, all systems GO—me too!  Letting the process take over has allowed paintings to emerge without preconceived notions.  Ah, to be so free….

But this time the picture jolted together before me and I was stunned.  Let me explain:
I’d killed my current painting a couple of times already.  I had a strong bed of texture laid down:  hay and cattails (bulrushes) embedded in a pool of dried latex paint.  Typically I use the lines from the textural underpainting to direct the subject matter, but it just wasn’t working out this time.

So I’d painted over the whole uptight mess—twice now.  I’d gotten a beautiful effect during paint-over #1 by applying a dark wash of watery paint over my texture.  I decided to do that again. 
All was going as according to plan.   The dark wash had gathered into all the pockets of that voluptuous surface and I was forging ahead with a new course of action.

"Sweetgrass Drawing  23/30", 8" x 10", Pastel and Gesso on Prepared Board
I decided that this time I would use the above drawing as a model for the painting.  My plan was to use my data projector to shoot the drawing onto the canvas and simply paint it in.  However I couldn’t get the distance in my studio to enlarge the drawing enough—C’MON MAN!

I couldn’t seem to get a break with this painting!  The next day I decided that I could use the grid formula to increase the scale of the drawing and transfer it to the painting.   A piece of cake, old school but imminently doable….

This decision proved to be the game changer.

I measured out a 12” array over the surface and drew the lines in with charcoal.  The panel was laid on saw horses and as I finished the grid I set it up to begin the transfer process.


I saw it in an instant—a nano-instant. 

The grid broke up this epic field of texture into bite sized portions.  It isolated sections so that they became a group of individual pieces rather than an incomprehensible whole.  The visually overwhelming (who knew?) had become manageable.
In a rush of realization I set down the charcoal and stepped away from the painting.  Oh my goodness, what have I done!?
It was actually interesting!  The different pieces compared so well to each other…my eye was bouncing from one section to the next, over and across—I had to sit down.  I’d been knocked from Abstract Expressionism into Minimalism in one aesthetic hammer blow.


And I haven't gone back...

In just a few days I’ve completed 3 other highly textured grid paintings using different colored washes for the background.  I’ve filled in the squares with fabulous colors (say goodbye to the latex neutrals!).  

I’ve left sections empty on some paintings.  I’ve left a group of 4 large panels void of any further markings after gorgeous blue green washes.  I’ve built 18 small square surfaces for a grid installation painting which are now heaped with hay and bulrushes and drying in the barn.

The current studio view

And the struggle, the noodling and the exertion, effort and strain of composing the “brilliant and breathtaking” is gone.  I’d had the nagging feeling that this work with the hay  didn't need to go much further, but I just hadn't found the way yet. 
Now it’s full steam ahead.
If you have frustration or nagging feelings with your creations, Listen To That.  Where are they coming from?  What do they mean?  They were telling me that what I was doing wasn't what I needed; that  I was pushing past my own artwork.
Blow it out—figure it out—talk it out—work it out.  Be bold, be alert, and look for your moment.  Expect it.  Grab it.  Run with it!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Studio Strategies--The Treadmill!

Consider this idea as you have started to gain momentum in the studio, or have a problem area in your current artwork.

Over the winter I got into the habit of using our treadmill in my studio.  What a great way to look at art!  With nothing else to distract, aesthetic issues get an in-depth viewing with plenty of time to consider, “What if…”

I saw an article on CBS Sunday Morning about incorporating treadmills into the office, with workstations outfitted for pacing.  They made the point that endorphins are released, increasing creative thinking.  I’ve definitely experienced this as I tread before my paintings.

I regularly have concerns about my abstract images.  What’s working, what isn’t; what’s the matter, why doesn’t it work?  Often I will put off decisions about that next step until I’ve had a chance to tread before the artwork.

Sometimes I am anxious as I enter my studio:  what needs doing, deadlines, or ordering my day.  The treadmill is a great way to sort it all out.  It’s perhaps counter intuitive, because I feel urgency about getting started.  But the exercise orders my thinking.  Inevitably, I end my workout knowing what to do and how to do it.

I go for 45 minutes at the beginning of my studio day.  I slowly build up to 3.5 mph at 6 degrees incline.  It takes about 20 minutes to get there; I hold it for 10 minutes, and then back off for the final 15 minutes.  Not a grueling pace, but it gets the job done.  Hydrate!

I’m considering including treadmills in exhibitions of my artwork.  I want to encourage viewers to regard my pieces more thoroughly.  It’s an accomplishment to get 30 seconds of serious consideration for a painting from exhibit attendees…how about 5 minutes from treading? 

5 minutes while looking at an artwork won’t release any endorphins, but that’s a significant increase in viewing time.  What if a treadmill was installed for every painting—or maybe every 2 or 3 pieces?  That would be a more practical arrangement as a number of artworks could be viewed per station.  What about groups of treadmills, so more than one viewer could participate at once? 

Would this encourage interaction between viewers?  Would people become self-conscious? 

The treadmill creates an interactive element, which is novel for a standard exhibition of paintings.  Perhaps this would create opportunities for different kinds of exhibits and venues?  Maybe the gym!

At any rate, if you’ve got the machine give it a try!  I’ve been surprised by the quality of viewing experience.  By the end of my session any aesthetic choices have been well considered.  I have utter confidence going forward.  I've weighed my options, visualized the results and resolved the situation...all before touching brush to canvas.

It’s a great approach to problem solving!  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Idea Generation Drawings--Getting ReStarted

This series is geared towards artists who want to get re-started in the studio after a long break.
Also referred to as “Ideations”, the Idea Generation Drawing is all about producing ideas quickly.  Each drawing builds upon the last.  It’s a fast way to discover and explore ideas.  One day you may find that your sheets are finished works in themselves.

Take a sheet of 18”x24” drawing paper and divide it into 16 equal sections.  In art school we were told to fold the sheet in half, then again, again and again—16 quick equal sections.  Now get your kitchen timer and set it for 5 minutes.  Yes, 5 minutes.
GO!  At this pace you have less than 20 seconds to fill each section.  I encourage you to finish your first sheets in under 5 minutes.  

Why?  We are most interested in getting restarted through this series of posts.  It is extremely important to see yourself produce a full sheet of drawings, regardless of what you think about the level of finish or quality.  In fact, do not think at all about quality or finish with this work.  Our interest lies in the flow of ideas, their encouragement and their direction.
Do a second sheet of idea generation drawings.  Make sure you follow the time limit and get all the spaces filled.  It may not be easy for you, but again, we are approaching this exercise as a re-starting technique.  Don’t spend any energy fighting it, use all of your energy making yourself produce quickly, right now.
Do you need to do a third?  Go ahead then.

Page one of drawings for sculpture, 2014 (Technically, thumbnail sketches)
Be conscious of where your ideas are going.  Have you discovered an idea that interests you?  If so, do your next idea generation drawing based on exploring that one idea.  See where it goes.  16 versions of an idea borders on an in-depth exploration, which can only yield well founded results.  Not only are you starting again in the studio, but you are building quality into your new artworks by exploring ideas this way.

Page two, drawings for sculpture
Do not give up—you will not fail if you do not quit.  Do you see any marks that are compelling, independent of an “idea”?  Maybe that’s the idea to pursue…be flexible at this point.  You are casting a lot of seeds out there and something is going to take root.
This is the equivalent of a “Free Writing” exercise for writers.  Getting the creative juices flowing is the main point, but you WILL hit an idea that is very interesting using this technique.  Look for that one tiny drawing with the je ne sais qua worth pursuing as a work in its own right. 
How about taking a photo of it and projecting it to scale it up?
There are multiple benefits to this exercise.  You’ll unearth ideas, explore and develop them; you’ll find surprise sections that stand on their own as images, you’ll develop diptychs or triptychs, even book sequences; not to mention how this process enables working in a series.  This is a fruitful approach as a general studio practice as well as for beginning new artworks.

Page three.

I fully encourage you to engage with this exercise.  Do you have a friend who might join you?  Sometimes it is easier to see how the process works when you look at someone else’s efforts.
Idea generation drawing is a valuable skill to acquire and serves well in the lifelong pursuit of art.  You can go through dozens of ideas quickly, arriving at images which are already proven worthy of pursuit.  It will increase your chances for success and a lot of new artwork.

Go get ‘em!

One of three sculptures based on above drawings, James Thatcher  ©  2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

YES! The Artist Speaks

From a reception for local donors to The New Vision Heron Mural:

I’d like to begin with one word, because that is how this project and everything associated with it began.  It’s a small word, but a beautiful and powerful word:  YES! 

When we say “Yes” individually, doors open and change begins.  Being in agreement with an idea, a statement, or proposal means that it goes forward with our blessing. 

When Lee Whaley said, “Yes, I will pursue having the heron mural redone”, the idea went forward in strength; blessed with her skill and experience.  And look where we are! 

When I said, “Yes, I will do the mural”, it opened up 3 years of experience:  From research and design to committee approval, online crowd source fundraising, and fabrication;  Then press coverage as well as getting to write my own guest blog article.  It meant mounting an accompanying exhibit, not to mention reconnecting with my past…everything made possible by one word. 

It’s one word, but it has needed many voices. 

When we collectively say, “Yes”, WE create opportunity.  WE empower those who are asking to make something happen—WE are in agreement with the happening of an idea, and are instrumental in its formation, it’s becoming a reality. 

“Yes” extends our world.  It expands our reality.  It creates possibility.  It unleashes the power to get results.  It represents a decision, a course of action, and a responsibility.  

The responsibility to honor those who agree to support, because now your sound judgment goes on display—the responsibility to verify your support AS SOUND JUDGEMENT.  

Thank you for your support.  Thank you for your affirmation.  Thank you for YOUR vision. 

When you drive by your mural think about this.  Think “YES” for your town, your downtown, and for what might present itself next.  Now you’ve got some experience with the power of your support.  It’s the power of your choice, your voice, your vote. 

You gave me an opportunity by saying “Yes”, and now we stand together with a new vision-- in a new vision.  Thank you for your confidence…it has been a soul changing experience.

Additionally, here's a link to a guest blog post I was invited to write for Artsy Shark about public speaking for artists:

Getting ReStarted in the Studio

Starting Over.
So it’s been awhile, maybe more than a while since you were in the studio.  You’ve gotten used to not making artwork.  You’ve been filling the time but the nagging thoughts don’t leave you…. 

START SMALL.  Baby steps, right?  Not 18” x 24”, not 11” x 14”, I mean small.  Tiny.  I used 3” x 5” file cards when I restarted, but you could cut that in half. 

START FAST.  This is low impact, low risk, and low investment.  This is production time.  Don’t get bogged down in details.  Fill the space and move on.  Do another.  Do five.  Let them be awful.  They’re miniscule anyway—who cares!?

START NOW.  Use what you have.  I had file cards.  If all you have is 11” x 14 paper, then cut it smaller.  Let that be a part of your process.  Don’t cut up tomorrow’s pieces today; let yourself have a place to start when you get back into the studio tomorrow.  I had to prime the next days 3” x 5” cards at the end of the session so that I didn’t bog down waiting for it to dry the next day.  It became a wind down activity as well as a wind up activity. 

I did 5 cards a night for many nights.  For many nights they were not good.  Don't allow yourself to be discouraged.  You're not looking for masterpieces or to put together an exhibition.  All you're doing is starting over in the studio.

These 5 little paintings took an hour to produce each night.  Eventually they would become models for larger works.

They became the start of a body of work which has been in production for 25 years. 

Do you have a restarting story or strategy?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wedding toast, November 2, 2013

Joe and Laura,
I love your story and tell it regularly.  Modern love in the Facebook age, a couple of crazy kids from the seventies….and as I know you’ve told everyone:  who knew, at 15 years old, what such a future would hold? 
But who would want to? 
Would anyone have taken the road they chose, if they knew where it would lead?
 Wouldn’t we just sit and wait for that destination, and then miss it, because we’d never even begun our own journey?  The joy of life is the intersections of our paths, whether those crossing trails are professional, personal or our eventual partners.

As we join forces, the road becomes wider:  busier, with more notable destinations.  Education, Career, Family…and then we take an exit, perhaps without even signaling; sometimes slamming on the brakes to the curses of those around us.  Sometimes reading the signs and getting into the turn lane, signaling to everyone our intentions.
We pull off and then wonder, “Hmmm…is this the right road?  I don’t see any sign…did you see a sign?”  Some may stop and ask directions, some will retrace their steps and return back to the previous road, some will forge on whether certain or not of the turn they’ve taken.
And some…some, without question or hesitation hit the gas.
Guess who we are toasting today?  Full speed ahead, to Joe and Laura!

Friday, May 30, 2014


Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  I believe this and extend it to all communication, including visual art.  The random techniques of Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism express directly the joie de vivre abundant within me by the Holy Spirit.  

However, in recent pieces imagery is reduced to panels of texture, bridging into a gritty form of Minimalism.  Whether chunky or slick, the materials are being emphasized and are more expressive in spite of the paintings increasingly stoic forms. 

I edit heavily.   I pile on paint and thickly textural elements like leaves, grasses or bark.  The latest works feature hay from my dairy barn studio and cat tails gathered from marshes in upstate New York.  I use local elements as a way of assimilating my environment and regional culture. 

After embedding these elements into the paint I scrape off what I can.  Of what remains, I isolate the lines and shapes that are the essence of the chaotic underpainting.  The experience and process of this discovery motivates my creative urge.  I look for surprise in materials, process and imagery, as surprise is the beginning of delight!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Extenuating Circumstances and Life.

I once had an 8 year long break between artworks.  I've also had stretches of sporadic art production, grinding out stuff as I've been able to cram it into spare time, doing maybe a dozen measly, incoherent pieces in a year; year after year. 
But that really is life...we're not art making machines, we're people; and we make art.  Sometimes there are more important things than doing our artwork.  We are multi-faceted beings, and our artwork is only one facet.  Our other aspects must develop.

It had been 8 freakin' first wife had died of breast cancer.  I was sitting on the sofa maybe a month after she'd passed.  Watching "Roseanne"...

I said to myself, "If I were an artist I'd be upstairs (in my wife's dormant studio) making artwork."  I turned off the television, went upstairs and got to work. 

We return to our art with a deeper experience to draw from; a greater awareness of love, of responsibility, and commitment; and making a more excellent product.
Have a little faith, gird up your loins, and believe.  Do you feel that life is crowding art right out?  This is going in a dynamic and profound direction for you.  You will do great and powerful things.  It will work.  You will not fail if you do not quit.  Having responsibilities is not quitting, it is being admirably strong.

You are admirable.  You are strong.  It will show.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conversation with a Friend

Hey Gregory,

Interesting questions and I don’t like my answers to any of them.

 Not selling anything regularly—some small stuff, prints from the website occasionally, a larger piece a couple years back.  Nothing big.

Collections…nothing too grand for painting:  Richard K. Thomas, a DC journalist (now retired—he was who brought me to DC from northern Michigan).  And a local businessman who bought the larger piece a couple years back.

Because of a strategic alliance in the ‘90’s with Mitzi Perdue of poultry fame, I have samples of my woodworking in some good private and state collections, including Bill Clinton, Lady Bird Johnson, former Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and the Perdues; as well as a jewelry box for CNN news personality Paula Zahn.  But….

Peer group?  No.

Art History?


My interest is in making good work, rather than art history.  As such it probably does more to promote art history rather than actually make art history.  Personal relevance is important, and the process of “making something out of nothing” is key for me.  I believe that we express ourselves out of the abundance of our heart, our core—I know that.  Does that contribute to art history?  It does contribute to the culture…and give meaning to my life and the doing of the stuff that I do…where is art history taking place, Gregory?  Who is it affecting? 

Projecting computer art on the walls of the campus may do more for art history than anything, because it’s that random encounter with artwork—big, unusual, and there in your path folks.  It may actually stick with someone--it may be more memorable than  typical art venue exposure.  I really like the graffiti on the trains that pull through town—same thing of big art flashing by unexpectedly.  A lot of it looks the same but still…I do appreciate it, and seeing it.

As far as “Absence”, what does Joan Mitchell’s work say in her absence?  Sam Francis?  How about James Turrell?  Aha!  And Pollock—Yes!  Warhol—I think I’m catching on….

I’m looking to surprise myself as I create; I believe that the surprise is contained in the finished product and possesses a certain “Wow!” factor.  That’s my deal right now—“look where this one went!”  Maybe create a little intrigue about how it got there….

Interesting questions.  Why do you ask?