Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting Out of the Flatlands

I got a call for work this morning, so I've been up and running since a quarter to six. I spent the after work hours with the exchange over on One Cosmos, and that was a brainful and then some. And my head was already filled pretty close to capacity from trying to digest yesterday's comments right here at the wfb. (and Thank You all very much!) It's almost eight thirty, and I'm just now sitting down trying to improvise some content.

Actually there wasn't much left to say on the topic of losing the burn. I started carving rocks, and didn't stop until the fire went out, which it did abruptly, and without even extending me the courtesy of letting me finish the last piece I was working on. But it was great while it lasted. I turned rocks into three dimensional versions of the forms that I had formerly put on paper. I'll get out the camera and take some pictures later this week.

It took a whole new set of brain muscles to start seeing, and working in three dimensions. It was like going from swimming laps in a pool, to surfing. The knotwork drawings are impossible figures. They can exist only in a world restricted to height, and breadth. Stone will not tolerate that kind of fanciful nonsense. It makes you play by real world rules. Along with height, breadth, and depth there is balance, strength of material, hardness, flaws, and all sorts of other considerations to deal with. And oddly enough, courage. Courage? Well, it's like this. It's really tempting to carve thin, to carve delicate, to carve with lots of open work, and things soaring off and hanging in space. It sounds really cool to make something with a lot of mass sitting on a tiny foot, and depending on a precisely placed center of gravity to keep it stable. Until you have a two hundred dollar chunk of alabaster, and ten weeks worth of hard work sitting on the table in front of you.
I'm reminded of people who go around climbing rocks, but that's a whole 'nother kind of idiocy. And I wouldn't be so presumptuous to compare breaking a sculpture with breaking me. I'm sitting here right now looking at one of my early, loopy efforts which was instantly transformed from one piece of stone into three, courtesy of last summer's earthquake. It was disappointing, but it didn't involve the loss of blood. But I'm getting all sidetracked here, and besides, that's about all I have left for now. I get to work again tomorrow, and that's a good thing. Maybe I'll dream up something during the day.

JWM

4 comments:

julie said...

Courage? Oh, yes, I understand. While I've never worked on anything so expensive, the first time I took a brush to a canvas was terrifying, precisely because in starting with something of value (as opposed to a sheet of newsprint which can be balled up and thrown in the trash with nary a second thought) you hope to end up with something of value. But of course, you must first learn how to grok your materials, and there's only one way to do that...

walt said...

I used to "sort-of" collect and "sort-of" sell suiseki pieces at my nursery. Here is an example -- but naturally, they are as varied as the stone itself, as well as its size.

Some of the pieces ran into the hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars, and would be contorted pieces of very heavy stone all balanced on a small point, set into a tiny rosewood "foot." Of course, sometimes they fall and break, and sometimes stones just "fall apart." That is the un-fun.

So, yeah, art does require something more than just the doing of it. The whole process is shot through with risk, every step of the way -- even for the clients.

mushroom said...

I don't know anything about doing art, of any kind.

I'm sure it's not the same, but I did feel risk when I was doing all the trim work on my house -- especially the tile. I really dreaded the thought of walking into a room and for years being reminded of a mistake I'd made.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It makes you play by real world rules. Along with height, breadth, and depth there is balance, strength of material, hardness, flaws, and all sorts of other considerations to deal with. And oddly enough, courage.

This reminds me of our lives. All these coonsiderations...and then some. :^)