Sunday, May 2, 2010

Turning the Earth does the Mind Good

Transformation Tapestry in progress

I am sitting in my studio, breathing easy and feeling completely at peace. Sad to admit, but this is a rare feeling lately. Life has been speeding by and if there were any roses, no, I did not stop to smell them along the way. Not in the past couple weeks anyway.

Yesterday afternoon was a turning point. After two solid days of work that was accompanied by pure frustration with techniques going bust and materials running out at critical moments, Chris and I headed outside to soak in the sun and the first real warm day here in Lubec. We planted a rose bush in honor of Chris' brother Gudger. It replaced the ancient rambling rose that met its unfortunate demise last summer due to excavation equipment and my not being here to save it.

Digging into the cool moist earth was rejuvenating. In fact, I get the same feeling turning the earth as I do when working in the studio with clay. We decided not to stop at the rose bush. We raked rocks and heaved up weeds. Hyacinths and hostas were planted as an attempt to green the dreary dirt landscape that is a remnant of recent construction.

Today I entered the studio with a new frame of mind. I felt okay. I felt like I could accomplish what I set out to do, and dare I say, maybe even finish-up a project?

At 4:45 p.m. this afternoon, I was able to call a piece "done" that I began working on back in January. Maybe I would have finished today anyway, but, I think that yesterday's shift in scenery and time away from the studio gave me a fresh perspective.

I am almost done with a clay sculpture that began in January as well. Both projects are for the MFA program that I am in at Heartwood College of Art. It is an incredible feeling to finally see the ideas, formulated nearly five months ago, come to completion. Or near completion anyway! I still have a few details to work out on the clay piece, but I'm in the homestretch. Final project evaluations are May 15th, and I suspect that I will be tweaking things right up until the last minute.

Here's the interesting thing to me. I am forty years old. I have been calling myself an artist since I was about twenty. I have created hundreds of works over the years and sold much of them. But for some reason, this current sculpture feels like my first real piece of artwork. I might be confusing this with, simply, taking a new direction. But there is more to it I feel.

This is the piece that I have labored over more than any other, with over 150 hours and hundreds of dollars invested. It has challenged me to persist even when I was completely frustrated and wanted to can the whole idea. I stuck it out. I spent hours sketching, journaling, researching. No doubt, this project that challenged and frustrated me will be a spring-board for further pieces. And silly me, I am thinking of going through some of the same processes again! You would think I had been beaten down enough already by it, but as I have said before, artwork is not all fun. An artist has a vision and will do what needs to be done to bring that idea into physical manifestation.

I know you must be wondering what is that I have actually sculpted. I have provided only bits and pieces the past few months in this blog. I plan to post the final piece after my MFA evaluations later in May. Even I have yet to see the finished piece all assembled.

In the meantime, head on outside to soak-up some warm rays, breathe-in the fresh air, plant something beautiful, and remind yourself to smell the roses.

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