When I walk through an art museum I don’t often see anything that resembles the wood carvings that I make. What does that mean? Does that mean I am not an “artist”? This week I explored that while cutting my most recent project, a set of converse shoes sitting against a chain-link fence. The style is called “Cross Contour” and is popular with line drawings. I have two more pieces in this style planned and will put them in the gallery together.
To me art is a human activity of self expression that evokes emotion. It is comprised of skill, message, and medium. I’m trying to figure out where I fit into that definition. The image of the shoes is not owned by me, but it inspired me. I greatly enjoy iconic “pop” art. I own a pair of converse shoes and in them, I have walked hundreds of miles. To me, they conjure up visions of american sidewalks, street-sports, and street artists. The lines give the feeling of setting sun, or setting time. These shoes are loved but also discarded. The wood I cut has been saved from being discarded, at least for now.
I feel the most skilled when I’m working with my equipment. The feel of the saw dust under my (usually bare) feet, on my hands, and the metallic clink of my tools as I use them makes me feel like a craftsman, like a hard working artisan. As for my message, it is in my medium. I choose the piece of wood, I put my hands on it and I look at it hard, each one has so much unique personality. I can tell when I really like a piece because I run my hands over it often, I keep looking and touching, trying to really know all it contains. I can’t help but notice every scrap pile on the side of the road or burn pile in someones yard. My ability to spot wood is uncanny. Although most is too rotten, or the wrong shape or size, when I find a good scrap of wood, it really excites me.
This week I had fun with the shoes. After filing and sanding, I added some color to make the image come together a bit more. I really like the abstract style and I definitely want to learn how to paint/draw my own imagery in the cross contour fashion. I look forward to more schooling this winter. My journey as an artist evolves with every piece and I am excited to explore the next level.
Let me know what you think of finding artistic voice in the comments below!