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The winter months are coming up and for some stone carvers it's the time where they hunker down in their studios and get a bunch of stuff done, for others they take advantage of the longer nights to read, relax, plan and contemplate. I fall somewhere in between.
Carl Nelson

Lately I find myself in the studio, motivated by having attended Silver Falls, visited Corky's Olivine quarry and, recently, the Abstract on Orcas weekend. See Michael Yeaman's presentation online.

Additionally, I have just finished reading Denis Dutton's book, "The Art Instinct". And since, have had several wonderful conversations and email interchanges with Lee Gass. As a biologist, Lee has great insight into the evolutionary aspects of Dutton's ideas. I find myself thinking about Dutton's book on what constitutes art and those qualities by which great art should be judged. If you are new or unfamiliar with art criticism, which I am, watch his TED Talk.

His ideas are starting points for many good discussions (remember, he's looking at ALL art and he's an art critic), I'll throw them out for you to contemplate.

In his opinion, great art has: complexity, serious content, emotion, purpose and distance.

Even more detailed in his "constellation" of what we should consider as constituting art:

Direct Pleasure, Skill and Virtuosity, Style, Novelty and Creativity, Criticism, Representation, Special Focus, Expresive Individuality, Emotional Saturation, Intellectual Challenge, Art Traditions and Institutions, Imaginative Experience.

I believe, in the context of his "art instinct", the words in this "constellation" need to be refined, or regrouped, so as to provide a more succinct accessible and useful vocabulary stone sculptors could use to talk about their work.

I hope these ideas will give you something to contemplate while you are carving or when relaxing. Let me know what you thnk and if it might be a workshop you would attend.

Carl