Here are few lessons I learned from 2007 to 2018.
1. Copy artists you like. I was a math major. I did not have art history class. So most of the artists I like I have discovered along the way. You can learn a lot about color, shape, emotion and soul by emulating the best. Here are few that I like:
Pierre Soulages. A French painter and sculptor. He paints with black. He has also done some really cool abstract work with stains.
Rothko. Love his colors. I can burn between the lines.
Yves Klein. He did some flamethrower paintings. (I hope to get my Not-A-Flamethrower soon.)
Cai Gou-Qiang. I learned my process from following his work. My work is smaller, more detailed. and has more color than his. My work also has more of a pop art/street art look. Seeing his work in China got me started.
You will find a hint of each of these artists in all of my work.
2. Try a lot of different things. You are not doing anything wrong. Do not worry about mistakes. For gosh sakes, you are going to blow it up. Anything can happen. I've tried hundred of gunpowders (and made my own) and dozens of fuses. And I have burned and exploded all sorts of materials: paper, wood, photographs (fusographs), panels, plastic, canvas, metal, even old tee shirts. 97 percent of them sucked. A few turn out cool. So try lots of things. Don't worry about what people think. You are having fun. You are an artist. You are blowing things up!
3. Blow up 33% more than you think. More gunpowder is more fun right? But, I don't mean that. What I mean is do more. The more time, the more practice, the more experience, the better you will get. Get in close. Scrape off the debris. Try different angles. Work in some paint. Do it again. Then again. You will know when to stop.
4. Start with basic gunpowder on paper. An open burn on paper is simple. It is fast. It will give you a unique, clean, monochromatic look. Master this simplicity and minimalism. You can move on from there.
5. Do a series. Do a group of gunpowder paintings or drawings that have a theme. There is a certain workflow. An energy. A plan that all comes together when you work on a series. I rarely work on less than two artworks at a time. Plus, more explosions more fun right? When you work on a series it will be more personally meaningful to you and it will make more sense to your audience.
Gunpowder art is the best. It is open. It is fun. It is challenging. It is difficult. It is fascinating.
Challenge yourself. Take risks with your work (please don't blow yourself up). Be dynamic.
And did I say it's fun!
Light it up.
Artist Stick Vega studied mathematics and economics, earning a B.S. in economics from UW-Madison and an MBA from Edgewood College. He owned and was CEO of online apparel retailers WinterSilks and Venus Sportswear. However, upon selling the companies more than a decade ago he headed straight to his studio - The Blast Factory in Madison, WI - to create explosive, modern art with gunpowder and high-speed fuse. Stick's current work includes paintings, drawings, fusographs (exploded photographs) and writing. Please follow Stick on Facebook and/or Twitter.