Facing Reality: A Song About Process

May 10, 2012

Posted in: Process

The work that has been on my studio easel for a number of weeks is the large Guardian figure I am creating for a local homeowner.  Intended for the porch pediment of her Victorian home, it is large, measuring nearly 6’ at the base.  Having done drawings, from which she selected her choice; then a small, scale model to allow her to see color possibilities and treatment of wings and other features, I set out to fabricate the actual mural.

I began with several small areas and then plunged into the large figure herself.  The client’s wish was to have a very traditional angel-like figure in that space.  Early in the process, the client stopped in, quite unannounced.  I had always encouraged her to visit whenever she, a runner, was ‘running’ by.  And this particular day, she did.

The Guardian was very much in the early stages of development, with odd lumps in strange places and a very unbecoming expression.  The client looked on in dismay.  I simply said she was ‘in process’ and this was ‘not her best moment’.  I needed to work with the clay, struggle with the image until what emerged was that for which we both were hoping.  There was a lot of silence and looking, and I felt a lot of uncertainty in her leaving.

As for me, I simply continued working and brought the Guardian to a point of satisfaction for me:  a strong, gentle figure, cradling the client’s home in her arms.

The clay artist is the one who must face and understand process.  Not every moment is beautiful.  The potential is always there…but the artist must fearlessly stare down the awkward and gently wrestle the clay into beauty.  There can be no panic in the moments when the form is way off balance, or the image far from what’s hoped for.  The artist must simply move forward with assurance in her ability to bring forth the image.

In the work of art which is each of our lives, the same is true…as shaper and creator and artist, we must acknowledge that all moments are not our best,…fearlessly stare down that which is awkward, unlovely, and…move forward with assurance in our ability to create what is the best and most beautiful person.

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