Chaos Theory is a constant in the back of my mind when I’m working – especially when I’m making marks on paper.
Although Chaos Theory can apply to the creation of anything, like natural systems such as the weather or man-made ones like the stock market, my favorite example of this is baking a cake. All of the predictable separate ingredients come together in absolute chaotic fashion, get mixed up, blended together, tossed in a pan and put in the oven at a certain temperature, and then an hour later, out comes a beautiful cake. Or not. each time a cake is baked, the beauty or quality or edibility of the cake depends on the quality of the ingredients, how the ingredients come together, the temperature of the oven, even on the purity of the energy of the person who is creating the cake. The recipe is always the same, but the resulting cake is always different.
Chaos Theory uses a lot of mathematics to understand how it works.
Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. — Wikipedia
But I like the more layman-like explanations, like this one:
Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. — Fractal Foundation
It works the same way in drawing in painting, at least for me, at least I think so. I don’t think too much about my work as I’m making it. I funnel the possible images from my bitstream, through me and into my hands and present them as best I can. The individual drawings or paintings don’t always turn out the way I imagine them.
When working on a series, like The Conduits, even if I start the piece out the same way as the last, when one mark changes, it leads the work down a different path from its ancestors.