May 15, 2011

What A Wonderful World

No pic; I just wanted to share some thoughts I had as I cleaned the garage the other night.

My previous life was spent working for someone else during the day while dreaming of creating beautifully designed furniture, and then trying to make the furniture a reality at night. I have lots of wonderful tools, and I have them all tuned nicely so that they cut and shape with precision, and I have spent countless hours studying how they work and which methods produce what results.

I have also spent lots of hours and grey matter studying designs by other people and drawing up what I think might be beautiful (hey,it keeps me awake in church...). I have a bent toward Danish Modern designs--the sleek look, and clear functionality appeal to me. I'm not one who likes massive furniture and visually weighty designs.

Heck, I've even built a few things.

And that's the trouble. Woodworking is not a fast process, and does not yield immediately beautiful results. I can visualize what a thing will look like and thrill in it all the way through the process; but people I want to share it with may not be able to visualize what the result will be, and that makes it harder to stay excited, I guess. Plus the expense is great and it always require more: more wood and materials, if not more specialized tools. Plus it's a subtractive art, and there's always a mess to clean up afterward.

I still love woodworking and fine design, but I find much more fulfillment in making pictures. As much heart as I put into a table of interesting design, it's all mine and while someone else may buy it and enjoy it they don't really have a strong connection with it. When we make pictures together, however, we both have a vested interest and the cooperative spirit of the process yields an image that we both care about and may even treasure. Most of the satisfaction in woodworking always came from working together with my brothers, and we often did not finish a project, but still enjoyed the work. In photography I get to work with you to record some history together, and that is always enjoyable.

I love the smell and feel of shaped wood, and I love the act of making fine shavings with a well tuned plane. The smell fades, however, and the shavings go into the fire. When I work with you to create pictures I have fun working with you, getting to know you and your family and what things make you happy and what goals you have and eliciting the kind of naturalness that those who know you well will recognize in the pictures. Then, I get to enjoy sorting and finishing the images and anticipating which pictures you will like best when I have you over again to look at the images. Finally, I get to watch you enjoy them and remember what happened to make this or that expression and what was said, and what the child did at that time, and listen to you make plans for the images--who gets what print and why and where it will go. And nothing ends up fading or going into the fire: instead they get shared and shared again. You give some to your parents, they show them to the neighbors who visit, your kids will inherit them and your grandkids will treasure them. It's a process that keeps giving and never becomes old or a drudgery or unenjoyable in any way.

The best I can hope for that table that the young couple bought is that it won't break when their kids jump on it.

Nope, this life is much better for me. What a world where we can choose from many mediums to create beautiful things. Let's get together and make some art. It's a wonderful world.

P.S. I have some tools for sale...

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