Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snowy Winter Encourages Artistic Endeavors

Last Thursday's storm brought another foot of the white stuff.

Teeny-tiny component of a much larger sculpture currently in progress.

Wheelthrown cylinders for a new sculpture in progress.

Kiln loaded and ready to fire.

It's been a snowy winter. No one will dispute that, not even those who live in the south. We have all had our share of it and it seems we can barely get shoveled out from one storm when another is forecasted on the way. This morning I had a "snow alert" in my inbox. Apparently we got another 4 inches of snow while I was snoozing, and last night the weatherwoman on WSCH news cheerfully alerted all the viewers here in downeast Maine that there is a "potential for significant snowfall mid week" with the next storm.

More than a few times over the past three weeks my arms have been reduced to a jello-jiggle after shoveling. It's a bit different here on the coast than what I was accustomed to in central Maine. On the coast, we tend to get a heavier, rain/snow-mixed precipitation. So, when the rest of the state has that light fluffy stuff that isn't a back-breaker when shoveling, we usually end up with a heavy, sticky mess that would give even the most Herculean of men quite an upper body workout.

This winter the forecast has called for more-than-usual "coastal huggers". Those storms that go out to sea are often clipping us here in Lubec. While the rest of the state (or even the next town north of us) may be dry and sunny, we are getting dumped-upon with whiteout squalls and mass accumulations.

So what does this mean beyond lots of shoveling and an enormous plow bill?

Snow days. The kind where the phone rings at 5:30 in the morning and the voice on the other end of the receiver tells me to go back to sleep. (But I never do!!!)

We've had four of them so far this season. Sometimes that elicits complaining since they have to be made up at the end of the school year, but I have sort of resigned myself that already. There is nothing that can be done: Mother Nature is in control.

For me, the snowy days have been great for studio time. Instead of my usual two days on the weekend and scattered weeknights, I have been able to squeeze in an extra full day which amounts to approximately ten additional hours of sculpting.

Winter is wonderful for creating, especially that which requires much thinking and reflecting. The stillness allows me to be more in my head and less distracted by the pull to be out in the garden or heading out of town, etc. Being snowed-in is the ultimate. Everything that was previously planned gets dropped from the schedule and that makes for pure creation.

I am currently working on two clay sculptures simultaneously. In general I don't like to have my mind scattered amongst too many things, but sometimes that is inevitable. The main component of a sculpture I began almost four weeks ago has a fracture so may need to be re-sculpted, and while I am waiting for that situation to become more clear I have begun a second major piece. With clay, I am always working against the clock. Different steps need to be done at a particular moment when the dryness is "just-so". I may come home from work some days exhausted, but I know that if I don't commit a few hours in the studio that all the previous labor done for a piece may be for naught.

Art is like that. Creating is pleasurable, but it is still work. Inspiration is a motivator, but once a piece has begun, the steps need to continue along at a specific tempo, whether or not the energy is there.

At present moment, the sun is still over an hour from rising. I've yet to assess what amount of snow we actually received overnight. I'm hoping for a shovel-free Sunday so that I may spend as many hours as possible in my pottery cave.

The beginning of a new piece always begs for extra attention. The anticipation of what it may become is at its height.

1 comment:

Owl Who Laughs said...

These photos show the beauty and severity of the Maine coastal winter, and also how you are using the sacred serene space of winter to find deep focus. Powerful pieces.... I see them at this moment, the sewing machines and chairs, as somehow like chess pieces in a corporate game.

Intense! Your concentration is amazing.