Being an artist it is sometimes uncertain where ones work will come from, will there even be any. I am currently in the middle of three projects, beginning a fourth project in a week or two. Two of these are large commissions, one is through an ongoing client which is an important part of my income and the fourth is a crazy freelance gig that is just plain fun. With these projects being simultaneously created with four different deadlines (fortunately they are all at varying times) you’d think I’d be stressed out beyond anything you’ve ever seen. I’m not bragging that I’m doing alright, well maybe a little actually. Well, I’m actually learning how to manage my stress now as it is something that I really want to keep under control and I feel that logging it into cyberspace will allow me to return to read it if I feel the stress coming on with a vengeance. I imagine much of my life will be like this as you cannot predict what is coming down the tube. It is all up to the big guy upstairs. So in the meantime, I do my very best to make deadlines and make everyone happy while continuously looking for work. For the last 2 months though I’ve been tested and failed. I’m proud to say, however, that if I follow a couple of rules than I will be alright. Perhaps everything can be looked as a lesson to be learned from. Well, for the last couple of months with some deadlines coming in all directions from unrelated projects I’d like to offer up what I’ve learned. THE most important thing that I learned is stress can be a killer. It is not only unhealthy to be stressed, it is also not very fun. Who wants to be around a cranky, bald man who is no fun and is a work-a-holic? The answer is NO ONE!! Well, living in a house full of wonderful girls (my gf, her two daughters and one kitty) the prospect of me being boring is NOT cool! So, I’ve been forced to focus my attention on how to not be stressed. The answer is FOCUS! If I lose my focus and start dabbling at one thing and two minutes later go to something else and so on, then I end up feeding my stress. Stress is fed on this kind of behavior. My girlfriend caught me at my very very worst one day when I had managed to walk to three of my projects within a minute. I was very fortunate that that day my love was with me to take notice. I would not be writing this if it wasn’t for her discovery. When I focus on one thing at a time (and I do mean focus with 110% of my being) I accomplish great things and fast. A great thing happened to me last week when I told myself I was going to focus on one project. Well, one of the projects was full of things that needed my attention so I picked an area that was in the least completed state and worked on it until it was done. I told myself I wasn’t leaving for lunch until it was done. I finished that shoe VERY fast! Not only that but it looks very good. What I learned is focusing with all of your being is incredibly important. I then switched to one of my other projects and did the same thing and voila! Miracle!! Then I started thinking that is all I need to do and I’ll get everything done and on time. What a great feeling. Well, the next day I realized I cannot do that everyday. Somedays are simply bad days and it was important that I not work if I did not feel inspired to do so. But it was the following day that I felt an incredible rush of juice. I was in the zone like no other day. This was Saturday, last week I think. When I went to lunch I remember still feeling in the zone and able to focus, yet aware of my surroundings. It was a bizarre feeling, one that made me think of some kind of high. I hadn’t done any drugs, it was the intensity of working and focusing so hard that continued outside of work. This surreal feeling enlightened me to how I was improving my stress levels for the last few weeks and I felt compelled to share this. Although I don’t feel that I have an answer to stress and how to manage it entirely, I am fairly certain that if I let things get to me than I have failed and the stress has won. I must remember in those situations to focus with all of my being on what is of utmost priority. Making a goal such as do this until so and such is done or do this for 3 hours than move on has helped me so much and I hope any of you reading might be able to apply it to your life. Have a good night all…
There are days when I get inspired and when I do I try to take note on three things: 1) what I ate for breakfast 2) did someone make me feel this way or did I just wake up inspired and 3) how long my inspiration lasts. What I conclude is that eating does make a difference, but it’s usually did I eat leafy greens such as kale, chard or spinach. I try to eat those everyday, because mostly when I do eat raw veggies I feel better. I sometimes have to force down some greens, but I have found if I make it an interesting salad with say sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, croutons, spinach, chard, dandelion root, pickle, cucumber, and a sesame garlic dressing with some olive oil and lemon juice than this gives me extra energy and mental sharpness. When I was younger, I suffered from cloudiness of thinking and lack of energy, but in the last two years I’d say I have gotten more and more energy which has spilled over into my creativity and therefore my art. I believe this change has been from my change in diet. This diet change was influenced by a man who I shall call “John”. I was fortunate enough to have gotten to know “John” through many wonderful dinners. I have learned a lot from John, not only in my art (as he is a well known and respected gallery owner, patron, and an all around expert in the business of sculpture), but also in my personal life-namely my choices in food. Through these many weekly dinners (and a few drinks) John cooked some incredible dishes. Food that I could only get from a 5 star restaurant was made right before my eyes. I took note and learned as much as I could, however, I don’t remember much of it-lol. What I do remember though is John spontaneously creating dishes. He never followed a cookbook but tried things out. I remember him saying to me he was testing out some dishes by having me over and he and I would laugh. Little did he know he was helping me get a taste for cooking. Although I am not near a good cook by any standards, I do prefer a grilled corn on the cob or grilled eggplant topped with cheese as opposed to spaghetti and … and macaroni and cheese. Most of my diet was that up until a few years ago. What is interesting for me to note is my art has blossomed tremendously in those three years, my mind is quieter from distracting thoughts and I have become a better person (at least in my opinion-ha). Ok, so that covers numero uno. Number two is did someone make me feel this way. The answer to that in it’s relation to my feeling inspired is usually yes it did contribute. There is no denying that a smile or a little recognition can make one feel good. I think if I woke up feeling inspired it might be short lived if there wasn’t someone to make it skyrocket. One of my newest and favorite things to do once a week is to visit a local coffee shop. It is not just any coffee shop, but one that was started by a well known sculptor’s husband. I am fortunate to know the sculptor and some of the family that runs the coffee shop. Just saying good morning and knowing that they remember my favorite coffee gives me an incredible amount of joy in my heart. How special they make me feel is beyond words and it’s these little things that make me realize the importance of kindness and smiles. It is the same when I make someone else feel good. If I can do that I will have positive energy throughout the day. and 3) how long my inspiration lasts. This is directly related to the foods that I eat (the fuel I put in my body) and the positive energy I receive or give (mostly in the morning hours). If I have done the first two things than my conclusion is I will be inspired 25% of the time and it will last all day long. Now this is the inspiration to come up with new ideas, set and meet or exceed daily goals. My conclusion is if I do this all of the time, than 75% of the time my day will be “good” to “so-so” days, but almost never bad days (btw, where did the word “so-so” come from? Sounds Japanese to me). If I’ve had a bad day than I probably didn’t eat well or someone pissed me off enough to make me go downhill. Now, it’s important that I get enough sleep so these studies only include when I get about 7 hours of sleep, which is what I tend to need to function.
Sculpture of Joe Gomer Tuskegee Airman
Liddell-McIntosh Memorial. I visited Fairmount Cemetery yesterday following mother’s day and what would have been Jessica’s 26th birthday. Although I had a hard time photographing the piece with the harsh lighting I think it came out alright. The sculpture memorial is situated near one of the entrances to this large and beautiful cemetery located in Denver, Colorado.
Here is a demo I made yesterday showing the creation of a miniature version of Niccolo Paganini. The miniature sculpture is 9″ height and will be cast in bronze this year, 2012. In the video (which is sped up at 20x normal speed) I demonstrate the entire clay process which took me 6 hours to make.
For the past month I have been spending more time thinking about processes and techniques than I have been sculpting on my own works. There are bucket loads of ideas worming around in my little head and popping out when I least expect it; at night as soon as I hit the lights, on the toilet, when someone is talking to me. It is odd to most people, but I’m sure this is what all artists deal with-getting ideas out of nowhere. I do go through dry spells and I feel that it is natural, but I’m learning how to get out of them as they sometimes scare me: “what if I grow old and this is it, no more ideas” or “so this is what happened to Bernini when he got older”. I’m determined to never let that happen! It is a promise to the universe that I’ve made-I will always have new ideas for sculpture. Period. So rethinking my processes and techniques is only to better serve the ideas and get them out there. The areas that are in need of major adjustments for me are armature building and reference materials. I have found that if I have all of that at hand I can usually go through a piece relatively quicker and achieve a high quality sculpture. If I don’t have enough reference material or if I have questions I am tremendously slowed down and sometimes the sculpture will sit for way too long. Example: I started a sculpture over 10 years ago “Violinist” (not “Paganini”, this was way before that) and it still sits in a storage shed in California! When I see it, I get very sad! I wish there was time as I would like to destroy it. The problems I ran into on that are deeper than I could fix, I had used sulfur based clay (which inhibits rubber mold making), the rebar armature was when I was learning to weld and has weak welded joints and it was a poorly planned out sculpture where I didn’t make a small maquette first to work out bad angles, etc. 10 years later, I’ve made improvements in my sculpture (I don’t use sulfur clays, I’ve learned how to tig weld and I make small clay studies before starting large pieces). However, there are still areas to improve that would make sculpting go much quicker and give a better end result. I recognize that I would like to have a variety of small aluminum armatures handy and ready to position and add clay to. Having these would allow me to jump right in a piece if I feel inspired to do so. This leads me to the second improvement I want to make, having all necessary reference photos printed and organized by sculpture. I’ve created a folder in my filing cabinet called “New Sculpture” and have been looking through photos I’ve taken of models, of myself, in different poses from all angles that I will print and put in their like a waiting line at the liquor store on a Saturday night. The reference photos answer many questions for me as a sculptor and are very important to keeping the piece fresh and alive-at least in my minds eyes. These two things are key to me producing more sculptures and I hope to finalize my thoughts on this soon so I can get back to creating clay people and more interesting blog posts!