Seascape Project: Update 9
The night-time view of the Seascape Relief. This is a taste of things to come . . .
The simplest ideas are sometimes the very hardest to pull off. True inspiration feels like discovery, as if you're not really thinking of an idea but simply uncovering it bit by bit. When someone asks you how you came up with it, you hesitate because you can't point to one event that served as the genesis. You have that blissful internal moment that feels like lightning erupting in your heart where you realize, "Wow, I really did come up with this by myself."
You can't point to a specific artist or work that you drew inspiration from, or think of a special trip where you saw some amazing architecture or visited some museum, or even think of some piece of music that drew you away from the constricting bonds of reality.
You think of what an amazing feeling it is to be experiencing something so raw and full of potential as a moment of inspiration and while you search for the right thing to say and feel like a dozen seconds have gone by you realize it's only been a moment. Half a beat later you smile and shrug, unsure of how to explain what you are only just coming to discover within yourself.
This idea - this almost childishly simply sketch - has captured my spirit this summer. It has galvanized my energy and become a driving force in our lives here. The children have not only learned the rhythm and routine of design and creation, and the hard work that goes along with seeing a project through step by step, but have also become an integral part of the process. Kelly in particular has been an amazing assistant. While Alexander and Isabel prefer to create on their own, Kelly will stay focused for hours at a time and set her own desires to build aside to assist in tackling the problems we are facing in the seascape project.
And while I really had no plans to turn this summer into an intense artistic workshop - much less tackle a project that would consume our time and energy on this level - this idea, this inspiration, has demanded just that. And after burying so many vital things for so many years, this was one idea that seemed to demand attention.
Plus it seemed deceptively simple enough that I thought I could just knock it out quickly. I guess it's a good thing that I'm a terrible judge of just how long something will take, or just how hard it will be. I mean, who would choose to be a stay-at-home parent if they really knew ahead of time . . .
I know I still would, but I also know I'm a stubborn bastard who has discovered that love is an all-powerful driving force. It's just nice to have a complementary inspiration that is propelling me into new and fascinating places as an artist at the same time.
But I digress. This idea seemed so simple. Build a relief incorporating what I know with one or two medias that I'm unfamiliar with. Just a little steel and some lights, perhaps a bit of painting. What could be so hard?
It has been amazingly difficult to execute. I have stubbornly refused to look anywhere for help. Perhaps naively, I have not wished to be influenced by another artist's work - even if it meant solving design issues. No short-cuts, no other influences. The piece might be a catastrophic waste of time and energy, or worse, simply be mundane, but it would be all my doing.
Knowing that I wanted to figure this out for myself, I haven't rushed into the parts that I didn't understand. All the things I had no idea how I could pull off I just let simmer in the back of my subconscious mind as I enjoyed traveling with my beasties. I attacked the parts that I knew how to build - a steel frame was the first thing I constructed - and then step by step I've worked on the rest.
True inspiration drives you mad if you don't figure out a way to bring it to life. Every idea I've had in this project has led to a puzzle. Figuring out the engineering has become a process of discovery.
I have fallen into a lovely routine where I sleep in the mornings, then have coffee and let the dream-state slowly evaporate from my system as the kids play games and read books in their pajamas. The cat stretches out on the wood floors in a state of fluffy grace, giving off the impression that she might never move again.
I work in the studio for 4 to 6 hours, assisted by Kelly and sometimes mixing in other art projects for the younger two. We tackle the design issues step by step. I think out loud, so that Kelly can follow along as I grimace and scowl and carry on. We sweat a lot - it's amazingly hot and humid here. We take breaks to have snacks and play baseball. We ride bikes.
Then we tackle whatever that night has to offer. Soccer or dinner or whatever day of the week it is. We relax and I see everyone off to bed. Then I pour myself a glass of wine and wander back into the studio. I look at everything from a fresh vantage. I take my time and try to discover the piece as if it was new to me: I pick over little pieces of metal, I fuss with tiny flaws, I yank off pieces of steel and set to totally reworking them. I experiment. I take risks. I work until deep into the early hours. And then I collapse in bed.
Tonight, I wandered into the dark studio and turned on a switch and this is what I saw.
There are still clamps in place and some bricks holding down bits of steel that are bonding together through chemical epoxy, but I believe that tomorrow I will be finished. I will continue leading you along the process of discovery and posting updates in the time-line, but I couldn't help but share this moment as it happened in my life. I have almost achieved success with my simple little idea.