I wanted a part of my current sculpture project to be black. A black that wasn’t paint. A black that didn’t hide the fact the I was working with wood. A black that, from a distance, identifies form as a two dimensional silhouette. A black that was the wood and not something that sits on the surface. I wanted simplicity that also offered a sense of depth and complexity.
How do I make the idea become reality?
As the last of the snow disappears from my backyard and I eagerly await the bloom of spring flowers, I find myself anticipating the completion of the project currently on my workbench. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Way ahead considering things are still in the early stages of wood removal. From a seasonal perspective, I’m still in mid-winter on this sculpture.
It’s super distracting, as a part of me keeps trying to jump the queue to completion while another fervently responds that some things cannot be rushed. It’s me versus me, and it’s starting to feel like a draw. So, like training a puppy that is overcome with enthusiasm, I turn to bribery. Playing music I can sing along to while I work or offering the reward of a favourite cup of tea, enjoyed in the sunshine, in exchange for some solid hours in the studio.
I like writing, journaling, storytelling, even the physical act of practicing penmanship is a present-focused, meditative endeavour. I like how what I write enhances what I create. I like how it tells the story of a piece I’ve worked on, laboured over and lived with, often for weeks and weeks. I like that I can go back and read what I have written. It tells me where I was, what I was working through, focused on, and learning.
I like that writing acts as a marker for growth. When I re-read past stories, I can see where I’ve been and how one action led to another which in-turn brought me to my current place in life. Writing is reassuring, it tells me that wherever I’m currently at isn’t where I will be forever. That the possibilities of tomorrow are even greater than those of today.
Clearly, I like writing but…
Here’s what I already know. I know that when I’m working on a sculpture, getting ready for an exhibition or pursuing an idea I’m all-in. I eat, breath and sleep art…my art. The ideas come fast and furious, the days are too short and I live in one space, the studio. It feels like it will last forever, this all-encompassing arena of creativity. I warn myself about burn-out and mentally caution about asking too much of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. But when you’re ‘on’, you’re ‘on’ and when the valve is open all the way the flow is seemingly never-ending.
Here’s the thing though, once the deadlines are met, the exhibitions have come (and gone) and goals are realized, then what?
Without the art there is nothing to share, nothing to talk about, nothing to feel, nothing to connect us. Marketing, self-promotion, website development, brochures, social media posts, the list goes on and on. All of that is well-and-good and a necessary part of every artist’s career. Strip all of that away however and what remains is the studio. A solitary space that drives everything. The studio is more than just a workshop filled with tools, it is the heart of what I do and everything is driven by its pulse.
Unfinished cedar, beetle-kill pine, cedar shavings and a couple of chisels. An image filled with raw potential and unlimited possibility. Photograph by Prairie Ranger Photography
I know you.
Stood next to you
among your brothers and sisters.
Felt the same wind,
upon my skin.
You know my inspiration.
Have seen their face,
heard their voice,
felt their touch.