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Guest DFogg

The Last 10%

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Guest DFogg

I have been working on a small carving and it got me thinking about the last 10%. There have been several times when I thought I was never going to be able to finish the piece. It wasn't that I was discouraged so much as I came to the realization that I had invested more time in the piece than it was worth or that I would be able to recover when I sold it.

 

I push through those times of discouragement by settling back into the work and usually I am rewarded by something special. Even when it isn't special, the act of finishing alone is very rewarding. It is then that I start considering "intelligent design."

 

We are in the midst of a time where attention spans are changing. Through the use of technology our minds are able to process images at an ever increasing rate and at times, images strobe at us so quickly that all we are left with is emotion and anxiety.

 

The media has provided the graphics and history can now be told as Billy Joel did in "We Didn't Start the Fire." It is an interesting and disturbing change in consciousness. If you want to see a stark contrast go back and read Shakespeare. Written in a time where pun and word play were dominant, it forces us to reopen parts of our minds like a rusty door.

 

Anyway, back to the final 10%. I think about this as I work. What are we doing when we invest weeks in single piece? It is anachronistic and in a real sense counter culture to work this way and yet I think it is the most important statement we could make.

 

So much for morning ruminations, now I have to get back to the final 5%. :D

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Are we threads that connect the past to the present, bringing to the hands and eyes of the hurried a way of slowing down while being absorbed with what only much imagination and time has brought into being?

 

Are our lives long, and strong, threads in the fabric of time and human history?

 

The production of our hours from activities of hand, eyes and mind, creates an object which will extend beyond our limited lives, bringing with it historic knowledge of materials and tools and the intellection of those who were creative before us.

 

We are the threads, we need to be here, doing what we do, no matter how long it takes.

 

 

Protect your creative spirit, nurture it and trust that each of our lives will be lived as they should be, and that others will enable us to continue to be the threads.

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Have to agree - how many times has someone asked me "Why is it so expensive?" The best answer seemed to come from a person manning one of the galleries we exhibit at, in a moment of exasperation - "Because they insist on paying themselves 2 dollars an hour!"

 

I often wonder the same thing, Don. Why is it someone who works in an office for $8,000 to $10,000 a month ($2,000 to $2,500 per week) complains that two weeks of an artist's effort costs much less than that? Is it worth it to me to take so little recompense for the effort? Then I remember back to my twenty Air Force years working for someone else, doing what they wanted me to do, when they wanted me to do it, as often as they wanted me to. As I tell my daughter about career advice, if it’s fun, you buy a ticket. If it isn’t fun, someone else pays you to do it. I have the skills - if I wanted a daily grind job, I could go get one. Maybe artists are the smart ones? Money isn't everything.

 

I make the rash assumption that you face the same issue I face about my art. I am driven to do it. I would create art, as I did in the past, even if it wasn’t providing any money. Just in my spare time, after work. There is often a point in a complex carving where things just don’t seem to be coming together. In the early days, I abandoned such efforts, until I made a pact with myself to finish the work, regardless of my feelings. I noticed the piece almost always worked thereafter. I also noticed that I liked the piece much better when I viewed it again several years later. I guess the time separation removed the immediacy of those doubts, “dulling the pain†so to speak. I seem to be happiest when I’m working on a piece I chose to do, and anxious in between pieces. I think happiness/satisfaction is the real reward, in a time when so few people seem able to find any at all, even when they seem to be finding plenty of money. I always noticed in the Air Force culture, as I’m sure it is in the corporate world, the reward for a job well done is more jobs to do well. But very often the satisfaction wasn’t there.

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Thesaurus: (a great tool)

 

production: noun: the act or state of extending or being extended [i had not considered this among the other explanations for the word]

 

intellection (idea): noun. what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended or as a forumlation (as of a plan).

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I find that to the degree I can disconnect from the commercial, I am happier, the work is better and from that, I am able to get better $. I've also learned that people respect you and your work more if they sense that your primary reason for doing it is not commercial, but that you're not going to give it away either. I think there is a longing today for things of quality, that isn't satisfied by cookie-cutter luxury items.

 

I know that 10% zone. It seem's I'm there 90% of the time :D . I also know the dark, staring at the ceiling question, "Are they really going to pay $? for this thing? It's a hard question when the checking balance is dipping down. I find when I put that aside and focus on the work, it's always better.

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