- Created: Wednesday, 01 May 2002 20:09
On a trip to Palm Desert over my daughter’s mid-winter break, we visited Grandma and went to Gallery Mack. I walked in, saw the work of my friends and amid the gauche atmosphere of too many BMWs, Lexus and Mercedes, I relaxed. There was Verena Schwippert and Reg Akright! And Tracy Powell and Michael Jacobsen! It was like falling into an embrace. I was impressed that so far from home, there was the NWSSA in force. Their sculptures were even more impressive amid palm trees and hibiscus than on the field at Camp Brotherhood. Imagine that.
I found a passage in an odd and wonderful little book, I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. “There is so much that can’t be said plainly. Try describing what beauty is — plainly — and you’ll see what I mean.” Then she said that “art could state very little – that its whole business was to evoke responses. And that without innovations and experiments all art would stagnate.” Yes, I thought, yes. Evoke responses. That is what I am drawn to, and attempt to do in my work.
I am also re-reading Irving Stone’s book, The Agony and the Ecstasy, for the third time in my life. I find it fresh and intriguing...again. The first time I think I was 13 years old, then at about 25, now at 50. This time I have a companion book by Howard Hibbard, Michaelangelo. It has photos of all the pieces described by Stone, both those by Michaelangelo and those Michaelangelo was looking at for inspiration and comparison. A very satisfying and humbling experience. I do wonder, however, if Irving Stone ever put hammer and chisel to marble himself. I find all of his descriptions of the chisel melting into the marble as if into butter faintly annoying. I mean really, butter? I am working on carrara myself, and it ain’t anything like butter!
The past month has been slow-going on The Big One (which I may have to re-name The Pebble after reading about Verena and her tonnage). Bellingham became SNOW CENTRAL there for awhile and it was too darned cold to work at the studio. Speaking of which, there have been big changes. All that silence and dusty cobweb stuff I talked about? Gone. Our new studiomates moved in and the place is transformed. Bill and Frances do oil painting and wood carving. We now have paintings on the walls, a couch and rugs, the smell of turpentine and oil paints, a refridge and wood chips! It is a bit tricky to keep dust out of their area, but we seem to be managing. There are more conversational interruptions when I am working, but the energy is good and the space feels happy. It will be so nice when the weather gets warmer to work with one or two layers under my ratsuit, instead of four!
I am now at the stage on this piece where I am close enough to the heart of the design to have an interesting phenomenon happen. When I first see it again after a day away, my eye can tell me immediately and exactly where I need to work and what I need to do. I work there. Then my eye jumps to another spot, and I see the fix needed there. This goes on for 4 hours or so. I know I am making progress...but by the end of that time, I become blind. I can’t see where to go next. Nothing looks exactly right and suddenly lots looks wrong. Then I know it is time to put the tools away. If I push it, I will go too far in one area and throw everything else off. It is like a switch being thrown. That dramatic. When I go back the next day, the process starts all over. Work proceeds in fits and starts and I have shown some friends what I am up to. They stand and stare, walk around quietly and cup their chins in their hands. I become unnerved and start blabbing about what I am doing, why I am doing it, what the piece represents, what I still need to do and on and on. They either say “uh huh” or “I see” and turn occasionally to look at me with blank eyes. It appears that their vision has gone way back in their heads and they aren’t listening to me at all. I asked my sweetie what this was all about when he reacted this way. He said that he needed time to take in the image and ponder on it for awhile. That he didn’t want to talk right away because the piece caused quiet and stillness to overcome him, and he would have to figure out his response before he gave it to me.
I bet you’re wondering what this thing is turning out to be, aren’t cha?