They say a picture is worth a thousand words - I certainly hope so! I tend to take a lot of "in progress" photos while I work, but I think went a bit overboard on my latest piece. I was finding it a bit daunting to narrow down the number of photos for a blog entry, so I decided that this project would require a multi-installment approach. So here goes Side 1, Part 1.
As I looked around my studio for a project to fill the extended void of time and mobility created by the Covid-19 pandemic, my eye settled on a piece of natural maple that I had rescued some time ago from a pile of wood destined for the wood stove after yet another a tree trimming session. It not only had a perfectly round healed tree branch hole, but it had very interesting internal growth pattern on its reverse side that featured varied shapes, colors, and textures. And so ...I began.
The problem with random pieces of barked natural wood is that you never know what you will find once you start removing material, especially bark. It can cover a variety of welcome surprises and unwelcome complications... hidden worm holes, weak spots that, for better or worse, can alter your intended plan of action. The key to making progress is to remain flexible! In a subtractive sculpture, especially when working with a natural material that is a random shape and presents a variety of surfaces and textures, each time you chisel off a piece of material you are presented with a multitude of decisions that ultimately can determine the path you must follow to completion.
Side 1 presented me with a variety of minor decisions, like deciding how much bark to remove, and 2 major issues - one that required a repair to a structural flaw in order to retain a desired element and one that required extreme reshaping after falling prey to a hidden cluster of deep worm holes. The story will continue in my next blog posting...stay tuned!
Cynthia Smith, Maine artist, originally from Connecticut. Taught art at secondary level for 35 years, retired in 2004. Sculpts in bronze, wood, stone, clay & plaster. Her work can be seen at several mid-coast Maine galleries and shows.