Sunday, 12 July 2015

#651 Throw on another log . . . why I'm an artist

Note:  "Throw on another log" is a commentary and opinion about art.

Last week, I was sent a questionnaire from David J. Wagner, PhD.,
a highly respected curator and tour director of art. 
His questions are for promotional purposes and
I'm posting them and my answers on this blog. 

I am happy to say that he has organized a retrospective of my work which will open on Oct. 2 at the Bonita Springs Art Center near Naples, Florida;
then travel to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell's Inlet South Carolina
where it will open on January 23, 2016.  More venues are scheduled. 

As artists, we get many questionnaires for articles, catalogues, etc.
I love the simplicity, yet thought provoking nature of Dr. Wagner's
five questions and I've spent hours pondering, soul-searching,
and writing down my thoughts.   I found myself bouncing back
 and forth between the questions . . . in other words,
they are all interrelated.  The questions are:

                          1.  Why are you an artist?
                          2.  Why do you create sculptures, etchings, and drawings?
                          3.  What goals do you set for yourself as an artist?
                          4.  How do you measure success?
                          5.  What would you like your legacy to be?

I've never really understood why I was compelled as a child to want to draw and why I was inclined toward creativity as I got older.  I only know that since I was little, I've had a never-ending energy and motivation to create . . . to be alone and to express on a deeper level, through art, what could not be said any other way.   I think everyone is born with some natural talent but it takes desire, motivation, and training to become a professional artist. . .  children typically love to draw but usually stop drawing when they're about ten years old because their drawings either don't look as good as the other kids' work or their drawing doesn't look like their subject.  As a youngster, my case was different . . . I was encouraged.

As a child, I had supportive parents and art teachers who not only encouraged my interest in art, but gave me confidence in early efforts. . .  it was not praise I was after . . . I just wanted to be by myself and draw things - mostly animals that I was used to seeing in rural Oklahoma where I grew up.  I excelled at drawing and later the high school art teacher informed my parents that a portfolio of work should be sent to the Kansas City Art Institute for admission and I was accepted.  To this day, I view the time spent there as the awakening of my senses as I absorbed the rudiments of what would become a lifelong journey in the arts.  Nothing since has equaled the enthusiasm in which I immersed myself in the study of art.  To this day, I thrive upon the confidence instilled in me by competent instructors who inspired and directed me toward achievement.

I believe sculpture, printmaking [such as etching], and drawing are skills that can be taught and learned.  
I've taught bird sculpture and anatomy workshops for almost thirty years and know this is true.   Art and the motivation 
for becoming an artist is difficult to define.  However, no amount of art education and practice can cause just anyone to develop into a creative genius.  There simply is no scientific explanation, no gene, for what causes some and not others to become a great artist capable of creating what is regarded as masterpieces and what stands the test of time.

While I was exposed to all mediums at Kansas City Art Institute, drawing and sculpture excited me most. 
Etching is simply another drawing process and was a natural technique for me to pursue.  I love the time-honored "feel" 
of intaglio and the "look" of paper pressed upon an inked plate.   After a successful printmaking [etching] venture in the 1970s with gallery representation and collector acceptance,  I found myself pulled toward sculpting and shaping clay into a three-dimensional form.  Not only do I like the permanence of bronze but as an artist whose design source is animals, I love the analytical approach and the necessity to understand anatomy and structure.  It is my belief that painters paint what they see and sculptors sculpt what they know.   In order to go beyond "specimen" work, the artist must have a developed sense of composition, balance, form, line, contour, etc. and all of those things that make up that elusive, subjective thing called "art".  Drawing remains a precursor to my sculpture and typically I work out design and anatomical solutions with a pencil on paper. I truly enjoy the process of making art. 

 I feel a desire to connect with the animal . . .  be it my dog, cat, or horse, or a subject that I've experienced in the wild.  I want to capture what I saw and felt.  I want my work to resonate with the viewer and while making art is indeed personal, the impulse to communicate continues to have profound meaning.  This causes a search for a universal statement and I tend to portray what is typical of the species as well as what I find beautiful.   

Over the years, my work has given consistency and meaning to my life and while the motivation has been a passion to create, art has provided a solid and stable income.  What counts is the fact that I'm happy and alive when I'm working and therefore consider myself successful.  I measure success on a daily basis.  If I wake up excited about going to the studio or if I'm on a reference gathering field trip and can't wait to experience the animals, I'm having a successful day. If things aren't going well in the studio, I'm miserable and everyone around me is miserable.  I truly think I could win the lottery and be miserable if I'm having an unsuccessful day in the studio.   Any artist will tell you that there's no greater feeling of well-being than when things are going well with a work in progress.   Everything takes a backseat to creating art and it goes without saying that I would create even if I wasn't paid for my efforts.  How do I measure success?   If all of the shadows fall in the right place.   

It is my hope that my work will give insight into the animals that inhabit this earth and will be an artistic record and legacy of the creatures who coexist with us in a chaotic world. 

"We need another and a wiser, and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals . . .
They are not brethren, they are not underdogs, they are other nations,
caught with ourselves in the net of life and time,
fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth"

                                                                                                                - Henry Beston

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Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott

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