During the past 3 months, I have had the pleasure of working as an intern under Ken Weathersby, a highly regarded painter who is a minimalist in every sense of the word. I nearly gasped walking into Ken’s studio for the first time. Everything was laid out like a grid. The walls were adorned with his pieces displayed as if they were in a gallery. His reference and source images laid out on a table and placed in categorized folders, within folders like physical computer files. Hundreds of books on the floor in neat stacks organized by size.
As a graphic design student at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, I’ve seen artists like Ken before. However, the super organized, detail-fixated artist usually fits under the stereotype of a graphic designer, not a painter. I, on the other hand, don’t mind getting my hands dirty and figuring things out as I go. So Ken’s a neat painter and I’m a laid-back graphic designer. We meet in the middle and it works.
Recently Ken has given me a project involving the re-creation of miniature versions of these layered wooden stick sculptural pieces that he has made in the past. Looking at his sculptures as an outsider, the sculptures seem so impossibly detailed and exact. Though after being taught his process, I don’t think his methods are far off from something I would do myself in my dorm room at college.
His process makes sense to me and I also understand his feeling that it might not make sense to other people or that there might be another simpler way to do things. I do the same things. I make a template. I recheck measurements a thousand times just to be sure. I repeat. Often things that seem more complicated make more sense to me than things that others find simple. I think Ken shares this.