We are all artists. The artist is there, awaiting release.
Two things — the hidden artist in all of us and a reverence for all things — guide me as woodworker, sculptor, painter, writer and even in previous lives (biomedical engineer and physicist). The materials I work with (wood, metal, stone and some synthetics) react to me just as I react to them, a reciprocity of reverence. If I see the beauty in a piece of wood, that beauty resonates, growing more magnificent. Wood may not “talk” back but it lets me know how to use it, how to show its best characteristics. These moments of communication are the photosynthesis of my art: the foundation energy that sustains me. Technique, that element somewhat akin to wisdom, comes only when the artist's soul is firmly attached to pen, brush, knife or chisel. Like great improvisational jazz, each brush or chisel stroke is another “note” waiting to be realized. This circle from artist to reverence to materials to tools and back to artist, is an infinite loop. Its driving energy may be the artist, or Mother Nature may be that engine since all elements of tools/artist/materials are hers. Ulysses said, “I am a part of all that I have known.” Quantum physics says the same. Does the artist create the art, or vice versa? When I work with wood, fabricating sculpture or furniture, I am just a tool of Nature holding a tool of steel, feeling my way into my heart and that of a tree.
Certain elements reappear in my work: flowing forms, curves, the contrast of mixed materials (stone and wood, wood and metal, etc.), river imagery and water. 40 years as kayaker and backpacker have certainly added their influence. Wild things, diversity, human insignificance in the universe, all serve as inspiration.
Some characteristic of the materials I work with often sparks an idea: weaving grain of wood, translucency of marble, topographic surfaces of bent metal, spectral colors of paints. The wood for a sideboard made of rare African muninga showed variations in tone that suggested changes in thickness, almost like shadow lines. The design evolved to emphasize those tonal changes. By cutting curves on the surface of otherwise straight pieces of wood, the
structure became both straight and curved, like the wood, and like the tree.
Another project evolved from familiarity with substance. I used to build kayaks from fiberglass. Resins used in fiberglass are translucent like the water on which those boats ride. In a spruce coffee table, tall lamp and door I built flowing inlay of glowing, blue resin — water floating in wood, a reversal of expectations.
My work, then, is born in the unconscious, heated in the forge of mind, fueled by a life of observation, and tempered by the heart.