Thoughts and Process
For me the process of making a sculpture happens in various ways. One way may begin with a sketch or an idea. Then working from the sketch I'll begin to construct the sculpture. Other times I pick a material I want to work with and see where it goes. No plan. No idea. Just feeling the material out and letting the work take shape. No matter which way I start a sculpture, once into it, I let the creative and artistic process lead the way. Many times I'll sit and just stare at a partially completed sculpture letting my thoughts and the piece tell me what to do next. I don't want to force a work. I want it to take on its own shape, its own identity. Even when a work is planned out, if I feel it will be stronger by doing this, then I'll go with what my gut tells me.
Where do my ideas come from? Daily life. Virtually anything can spark an idea. Most of my ideas come from the little pieces of the world around me. I may see a line, a group of objects, a shape, and from there an idea begins to blossom. I have sketch book after sketch book, sticky notes, and hundreds of pieces of paper scribbled with ideas. Some not so good, others masterpieces waiting to be made.
In most of my work, I seek movement, balance and rhythm. I love it when a sculpture captures movement frozen in time. The organic shape of a” ribbon” is one of my favorites. I believe most successful sculptures need balance and continuity. Even in abstract work. Without it a piece can be a mess, incomplete and lead the viewer to be dissatisfied.
The two most difficult parts of making a sculpture is what to name it and how to finish it. Very, very few pieces have a name before I start them. Giving the sculpture a name is sometimes painful. Trying to find the right words, the right title is a struggle. But I feel using “Untitled” is kind of a cop-out. The name helps describe the piece, helps the viewer to understand what I was feeling or trying to say. Finishing: What colors to use, should I rust it, how should I finish it? I'm not sure why but I struggle immensely with finishing. I've had pieces sit for years because I didn't know how to finish them. I once read “form is more important than color”. I don't think I believe that. Because even with great form, without a great finish, the piece will be weak. The final color/finish gives character, strength and completes the meaning of the sculpture.
I do not have a degree in art… well maybe I do… Cinematic Arts. Degrees are a great starting point but will only take you so far. As I found out after college, every place I went wanted to know what kind of experience I had. Nothing beats real experience. So how did I get into sculpture? After my wife went back to school to be an art teacher I was enlisted to help her on a project. She had an idea for a lamp. The lamp needed some welding. So since I had a little welding experience from the job I was at (very little), it was my job to do the welding. After that project I put my love of building and fixing things together with art and welding and became an artist. I am a very motivate individual. So when I want to do something I do it and figure out a way no matter what. Now years later I love art and want to do nothing else.
I make art that I want, that I like, that's creative. But I also want to make work that sells. I want to make art that people will purchase and enjoy. Yes I make work that I believe will sell. Why not make art for the sake of making art? Well I have lots of crazy big ideas. But what's the point if I make art that's really interesting and does not sell. Like most artists I do not have room for lots of artwork to sit around. Space is limited and so is my wallet.
As a working artist, it's tough to balance life, just as it is in any other profession. Being creative is hard work. One of my favorite quotes is by Michelangelo “If people knew how hard I worked for my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.” Metal sculpture is dirty and dangerous. It's amazing the number of people I have met with fingers missing, scares and permanent body damage. I pray that I will always be safe. That doing this kind of work won't lead to a premature death. I want to be around for my son. But I also want to teach him to follow his dreams. Following your dreams requires hard work and risk.
Every day I grow as an artist. My work matures, my ideas get better, I dream bigger. It's a slow process but I'm thankful to God that I have the opportunity to create, a place to work, and the ability to bring my ideas to fruition. In the end I enjoy what I do and have fun doing it and that's why I create art.