Doug Stahnke is a sculptor. And this is a wonderful exclusive article he wrote for us.
The Elegance of the Art
Let me begin by first defining some terms as I apply them:
talent – I think there is a simple truth here. You were either born with it or you weren’t. But talent comes in many varieties and categories. Many people have talents they haven’t discovered; or they have discovered them but choose not to pursue them. I believe everybody has some sort of talent. It could be painting, drawing, or sculpting. It could be singing, playing musical instruments, or having a special sense of rhythm. It could be cooking, designing fashions or in architecture. It could be in writing, film making, dramatic acting, comedy or magic. It could be one’s business acumen in financial management, marketing, design engineering or in leading a workforce. It could be very clearly in your dreams. This list could go on ad nausea.
passion – The drive to start, pursue and complete your next creation. An Artist without passion is a hacker.
hacker – One who is experimenting or exploring in an attempt to discover and develop one’s talents. If one’s initial experiment is critiqued as having even a modicum of beauty by even one reviewer, passion may start to grow. The downside is hackers can be very critical of their own work, which can kill their passion. This, in turn, may cause the hacker to bury his talents. Some hackers may create a work and then trash it, showing it to no one.
beauty – Is in the eye of the beholder? Many creations, even though the Artist has completed his work, start out ugly. The work can be transformed into one of beauty when just one person openly opines and says, “Now isn’t that a work of beauty!” If those folks who sloughed it off overheard this comment, they will likely take a second look, another taste, or even ask to hear it again. Then, hopefully a second person will soon chime, “I like it!”, with others hearing the appreciative praise. Then three, four, and five, etc., will follow in the appreciative. A work of Art can be transformed from ugly to beautiful starting with one simple, favorable opinion.
ugly – The reciprocal or opposite of beauty. One unfavorable opinion, openly stated, can negatively influence the acceptance of one’s work in a larger group. This can happen and carry many other opinions down with it.
Artist – One who creates something, with at least a modicum of passion, and asks someone else, “Well, what do you think?”
critical acclaim – The one person who stated your work had beauty, influenced another to pay money for your creation, while you were still alive. How frequently can you repeat such action? I don’t ever recall meeting an Artist who wished to reach critical acclaim only after they were dead.
media – Whatever stuff the Artist decides to use to create his work.
The Elegance of My Art
I am basically a sculptor. The roots of my talent go back to my childhood. I always liked to make something or build something. If someone else made something, I liked to take it apart to see how he did it. My current work is to sculpt crafts and pieces of furniture; write about what I’ve sculpted, illustrate it, make it into a “Set of Plans”, then sell the Plans through my Website. I call them ePlanSets. I want to have many people, all over the world, build, or sculpt my projects for their own enjoyment, just like I do.
Do I have any passion? It’s either that, or I am just plain nuts. My media is Plastic Pipe and Plastic Pipe Fittings. You know like PVC or ABS Plastic. It’s actually quite an easy media with which to work… for instance it’s much easier than working with wood. All of my designs are totally elegant. You can clearly see the elegance in my Table CenterPiece, my Candle Holders, the furniture in my Master Bedroom Suite, as well as many others.
One of my favorite, critically acclaimed sculptors is Michelangelo. I know, he was also a painter, an engineer and an architect, too. He would often consider himself a hacker because he was so dissatisfied with his work. I remember hearing a Michelangelo quote about his Angel sculpture, “I could see the Angel in the stone. All I had to do was chip away what didn’t belong to her!” Of course, Michelangelo works have all reached quite an enviable level of critical acclaim… even before he died.
Following the magic of Michelangelo, I frequently go to the plastic pipe fittings section, of the plumbing department, in my favorite home improvement store. There, I hold up some fittings, starting with like maybe a toilet flange, and very quietly say to myself, “I can see a lamp!” Or maybe, “I can see a Candle Holder!”
I am still waiting for my own Critical Acclaim to grow. So, what do you think?