Written by Izabell Fagan
After years of working in finance and regulatory, travelling to hearings, writing pages and pages of evidence, responding to interrogatories by the hundreds, I have found something that frees me from the constraints of “institutional” think and stress; stone carving.
Except for a couple of one-day courses, I am a self-taught stone carver. The internet, books I have purchased, my intuition and a significant amount of trial and error are my teachers. I have also been blessed to have the support of artists I have met. They are generous with their time, ideas, and feedback. I am grateful for this. I strive everyday to be as good at my craft as they are at theirs. That is a bar set very high.
“I can do this,” I say to myself on a good day. On other days, I ask myself, “Can I do this?” I have my doubts. I have moments when inspiration seems to evaporate and I’m left dry; idea-less. It is truly an awful knot in the pit of my stomach feeling.
In those moments, the frustrating part is that I know I can do the mechanics. I just don’t have the ideas with which to work. I worry that this dry spell will last forever. I feel like I will wake up one morning and the inspiration will be gone. Forever. Or, if it comes back, it won’t be good enough. What if the stone won’t speak to me anymore? What if nature abandons me? What if I am left with a black hole inside me from where creativity and inspiration can never escape? It’s a truly terrible thought.
What do I do when inspiration takes a break? What I DON’T do is go into the studio and make a lot of stone dust trying to be creative. I have learned that creativity and ideas come on their own time, in their own way. So, sometimes I go into the studio and clean it. I know it sounds crazy, but the mere act of being in the environment without the pressure of trying to create something will often lead me to look at a piece of stone in a different way.
Sometimes I look out my studio window and get inspired by the nature which surrounds me. I watch the wildlife I love. I wander around examining leaves. I look up at branches. I watch nature play. I listen to music. Sculpture is music I can touch. Sometimes creativity and inspiration take a vacation. They’ll be back, so it’s ok.
(Below: Photos for inspiration shot by Izabell)
When I have doubts about my skill, I remind myself that I’ve only been doing this for three years. In that short time, I’ve learned to select the stone which fits with my vision for the carving. I’ve learned techniques for shaping, texturing and polishing. I’m making my own decisions on how and what to do. I didn’t know any of that just over three years ago. That alone encourages me.
I have also come to understand that creativity can’t be forced. I once carved a “Warrior Woman” because I was strongly encouraged by someone to carve that specifically. The stone cried out, “This isn’t me!”
“I know,” I replied.
I went out to the garage and began sawing it up. The result was one of my favourite pieces –“Mallard”.
Am I worthy of the title “artist”? I don’t know. I sure hope so. This much I do know. I will continue to grow in skill and knowledge. I will push myself and never be satisfied with my current knowledge level. I will apply myself 100% to this work I love. I will continue to work at developing a vision that is uniquely mine.
“Am I an artist?” isn’t the critical question. The critical question is, “Am I doing what I love?” For me, the answer is a resounding yes! And that is the starting point. My inspiration flows from my love for my work, my creativity, and the development of my skill. I believe if I love what I do, then someone else will, too.