I would venture that most of you don’t know that I made a short foray into the craft of knife making. To this day, I still yearn to bloody my hands with this grueling but satisfying craft. After making a serviceable and sellable knife, I realized it was going to be a long and cutthroat climb to any kind of meager subsistence.
However, some of my best life lessons were learned during this time period. The most impressionable knowledge I gained would, ironically, parallel the task of tempering. Let me explain: once a blade is fashioned and the edge ground, it is placed in a forge or heat-treating oven and hardened so that it can best perform its task. Steel, in its earliest stage is annealed (or at its most malleable, soft stage). This is the point at which it can be formed into a tool for cutting.
But until it is baptized by fire and tempered, it remains useless as a cutting tool. This holds true for us as artists, as well. The tempering or fire stage is the most difficult to surmount, but until we walk through the artistic fire, I submit that we will remain at an elementary level.
|The Good Life|
So how do we progress? One word --- PERSISTENCE! I remember my first real jump into the fire. I had captured an astounding photo I knew was the basis for a spectacular painting. The problem was that my skill level wasn’t up to the task. I painted the image and failed; redrew it again; and again, I failed. I redrew and attempted the painting 13 times! No wonder 13 is my lucky number.
For two weeks I put the full court press on this painting. I never really got frustrated with my effort because with every attempt I was making headway; solving problems and creating a painting better than the last effort. When it was all done I realized my tenacious persistence was a great ally. My advice? When it isn’t working, press on into the fire!