Finding renewed inspiration

October 6, 2021

On January 1, 2014, I decided to put down my paint brushes and focus solely on sculpting. I felt that as much as I wanted to paint, sculpture was more widely appreciated than two dimentional art. I believed that “people” engaged with sculpture in a more significant way than paintings, so the path to being a successful artist was through sculpture and I should learn and practice as much as I could to be a sculptor. I had done three dimensional work in the past and it had always gotten a much better reception than my two dimensional work. So I traveled down Sculpture Road, I learned about the vast array of clays, polymer and oil based and water based, etc. I learned about their potentials and limitations. I learned how to reproduce sculpture by molding and casting methods and the potential and limitations of those materials. My skills gradually improved. I engaged with other sculptors and absorbed as much information as I could. When I felt confident enough, I began to show my work and even sold some pieces. However, that sense of fulfillment still wasn’t there. I still didn’t feel… successful.

Exactly what does “successful” mean?

If you know me personally, then you know that I work a regular 40 hr/week job that is completely removed from any artistic pursuit. It is a repetitive, physically active job with virtually no creative aspect to it. Aside from the security of a steady income and health insurance, my job does provide one other valuable element, time to think. Because of it’s repetitive nature, I can rely on muscle memory to complete the task as hand while my brain is free to contemplate and formulate various ideas, like “why don’t I feel like I’m even getting close to that feeling of ‘success’ that I’ve been working toward?” Something is missing. What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? What am I NOT doing right? I need to figure this out.

Listening

I started to listen to what other artists had to say. I started to read between the lines. I’m not sure where I started to pick up on it originally, but the idea that the art that one makes should come from the artist’s intent as opposed to what the market seems to prefer. I concluded that as much as I thought I was creating from my intent, that wasn’t necessarily true. Just because I chose to create something, isn’t intent. The intent was dictated by the market. In other words, the “what,” or the subject of the art was entirely to satisfy some imaginary customer that I was, pretty sure, going to buy it but most times, didn’t. At the very least, the only true intent by me, was in the execution or presentation of the art object. My conclusion was that I was going in the wrong direction. The more that I listened, one message became the most prominent for me: Be yourself, do what you do and be as good as you can at it. This gave me a lot to think about. I had to really think about where my heart lays in terms of the art I would like to make. I had to think about what gave me the most personal satisfaction. I listed, in my mind, the elements that I instinctively gravitatated toward. Assemblage of found objects, recycling materials, collaged materials and images, original sculpture, and paint techniques made the list. I had been applying these processes, in varying degrees, since 2005 either in paintings or sculptures. It had taken this long to realize that these techniques have been at the core of what, I believe to be, some of my more honest work. Having made this discovery, I searched for a greater context or inspiration from the historical record. I looked to artists that had used these practices in their own work, not only for inspiration but to cautiously pursue my work without inadvertant imitation or plagiaristic qualities. I wanted to develop my voice as well as honor the artists that pioneered the ideas that are relevant to the work I want to make.

A new start

I’m nervously excited to start with this fresh perspective and have already been experimenting with some ideas. As this new work develops, I hope to present it here and on the social media platforms. I welcome any thoughts or comments you might have.

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