We all begin somewhere. If one wishes to build fine furniture, knowledge of the tools, types of wood, adhesives, joinery, stains and finishes must be mastered first. This begins with an apprenticeship, since the novice knows nothing except the novel desire to see a project through. ‘The right tool for the right job’ is not an idle cliché. This applies to the studio arts as well. When I began my painting classes last spring I knew little of this craft and had very limited skills. All I knew was what I would like to portray, not how to accomplish it. I had to ask for help. I asked my teachers, since that is what they were for. I asked fellow students who were more able than myself, for that is part of their role as well. The great leap is that I took their advice and my work improved. I also do this with my photography. I ask for help and take the advice. There are many ways to do this. I go to the Kodak webpage for help with start times and other technical details, for example. I ask those who have come before “How did you do this…?”
And so my foundation is built of sturdy stuff–strong mortar, supportive materials, able to carry the larger structure that becomes the rooms, halls and stairways of this artistic domicile. There is more to the photography than that, however. My skills and craft are broadened by reading Homer, or T.S. Eliot. I get ideas from looking at the sculpture of Canova and Bernini and the paintings from a diverse world of museums and galleries. I soak in the experience of waiting at the bus station in Ravenna in the rain. By writing about these things I synthesize what I know into something else, perhaps not new to the untrained eye, but certainly original, if only in small ways.
The foundation–my foundation–is greater than the sum of its parts, yet contains all that I have seen and heard. I become my work and in doing so my work defines part of my being, part of my ‘self’ and grants a sense of community. More about this later…