Chapter 11: When Will This Get Easier?

How to Make Your Creative Dreams a Reality:
Strategies to Cultivate Your Talent

Chapter 11
When Will This Get Easier?
For Most Creative People It Won’t - Unless Your’re Coasting

 

I have always been amazed when someone assumes that at this stage of my career crafting a creation is easy for me.

I seldom respond to those comments, but in truth, it’s never easy.  In fact, my work has progressively gotten much more difficult over the years – especially during this stage of my career.  

And that’s the way it’s always been for me – and I accept it.  Let me explain why, and what it means to you as a creator. 

There is a limit to everything, including the working limits of the material and the physical limits of a 76-year old man.  Having said that, this 76-year-old man has learned how to finesse my designs.  I exercise the prerogative to reinterpret certain aspects of a 50-year menu of illusions.  I am not copying what I’ve done in the past.  I am nuancing ideas with joy and artistic maturity in ways that surprise me and continually teach me about my personal aesthetic. 

I am balancing the limitations of my age with designs that are original to my life’s work. I am not worrying about heroic-scale results in the context of my crafted art-making.  I am currently focused on four-inch orbs. 

What’s exciting about my current work is, at this stage of the game, I am learning how the magnification of the sphere offers a new perspective. The magnification creates peculiarly intelligent and detailed information that enriches the beauty of what I feel is imperative to my work.

My intense focus on orbs is like going back to those early days of anxious but hopeful labor in my converted utility room/studio.   Back then, when I was making my first paperweights, I was excited waiting for the oven to complete its annealing cycle. 

And here I am, 50 years later, with even more anxiety, waiting for the pyrometer to give me the OK to open up the oven door. 

There’s no less anxiety now than there was a half-century ago in the utility room studio.  And sometimes, just like the paperweight of 50 years ago, when I open the oven, the piece that was glowing with beauty, that I believed would be a masterpiece, is nestled in my hand as a disappointing reject. 

Today, however, with a labor-intense orb, I may lose a week’s work, as opposed to an evening lost on a small failed paperweight.  

Despite the hard work and frustrations that plague me to this day, I don’t feel disappointed by a casual observer who doesn’t comprehend the arduous work that went into a piece.  His or her attitude means that I have achieved one of my artistic goals: to make my labor invisible.

I don’t want someone to look at a piece and say, “My God, think of all the work that went into that.”  

I want them to say, “That’s poetic.”

Paradoxically, making labor invisible requires a crushing amount of labor.  It involves attention to detail with a dedication that comes with all meaningful work. 

The beauty of an artist’s career is a lifelong journey of learning as your labor unfolds.  You experience excitement that validates and acknowledges a life of pursuing beauty. 

Don’t expect it to get easier. If does, you’re coasting. 

You’re not growing. 

 

A lot of hard work is hidden behind nice things.
—Ralph Lauren

 

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. 
Peter Druker