In my former life I was an amateur artist. Amateur is an important distinction. According to the auto-biographies of most teenagers and all Hipsters, the world should be full of artists. Perhaps dilution would explain the low quality of the lot. So as to assure you I’m not one of those thinning the stew I’ll keep solidly to my amateur status. I sold a few pieces and did fairly well as a hobbyist but rather crap as a full-timer. One really has to put in full time hours to expect full time results. I studied art at most of the colleges I attended, technically all four, I think, but it was only my major in three and only my singular study in one. My grades were pretty good, which means next to nothing in an art class beyond that I followed directions when necessary and broke the rules in professor pleasing ways when it wasn’t.
I was always a metal enthusiast. I started as a blacksmith. I was never that good, I had no place to work at home and too long in between my classes to keep my skills up. I took to the material, though, and what saved me from my poor technique was my affinity for the substance. I could think in the form and that’s necessary for any good art to come of the work.
I had a winter where I could find no blacksmithing courses. I couldn’t go more than a year without standing at a forge and expect even my affinity for iron to keep me functional. It was also a year I had to take classes or find something meaningful to do, one of those parent-ruled seasons those still dependent on their ancestors experience. Combing through a catalogue my father had found, I settled on a silversmithing course. It was the closest thing to proper metal I could find and I thought it might help me with my detail work when I returned to the purer form.
I found I liked silver. I liked the difference in cutting and piercing something delicate as opposed to something that needed to be blisteringly hot and to be held by heavy tongs. I especially liked the calm of the desert. Then was one of the many times I was amidst a listless depression and the empty, scouring, beauty of the high New Mexican desert helped me relax, which in turn made me more productive. I’d spend ten hours a day in the studio some days, eight on most others, leaving only when forced to by my lovely instructors, two people who came to represent a near familial role for me as I grew to know them over the months and later, the years. The support, the emptiness, and the productivity begat more production, and the cycle continued until I was as happy as I am capable of being.
It couldn’t last, of course.
Part two to come soon.