Art is a conversation with others and ourselves. A characteristic of my art is love of detail. Detailed ornamentation brings discipline. Practicing a visual-motor skill, or playing an instrument, gives relief through repetition. In this Gimme World of instant gratification (aka illusions) practice is metaphor about life; it takes time. There is no replacement for this element. If repetition is the language of love, loving the work to better our craft is to love our art. Being disciplined in art is a living process.
Discipline is not a dirty word. Take the world-class Japanese garden nearby. The visitor is surrounded by discipline pointing at nature, the Master. The garden works as a dialog of details; a conversation between the artist-gardener and Life. It's a painting but alive, slowly changing with each leaf on the path or splash that ripples the water. The details are planned to include what's spontaneous. Living art. I take this lesson to heart as a lover of the handmade life, making small homages in my own garden.
There is a place for spontenaity in all this practice. Steampunk art that nods to methods used a century ago lets me play with purpose. When you look closely at the watchworks and salvaged pieces, much of the fabrication and craftsmanship holds up handsomely over time. For those unfamiliar with some of the tools used, here is an engravers block, a common fixture of watchmakers, hand engravers and jewelers. I am actually amazed that these haven't changed in 30 years or more. My metalsmithing teacher was Max Nixon, trained in the American Arts & Crafts movement. He first introduced me to hand engraving. Max was a fixture (and feature) of the Fine & Applied Arts Department of the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. And once upon a time (gasp) in those dark ages, machine engraving had not yet totally replaced finely wrought hand engraving. I practiced the basics of making my own gravers, learning Copperplate and other scripts (both forward and in reverse for printing press use), and thought I'd blind myself working on lacertine patterns I fell for studying Celtic hand-illuminated gospels of the 9-11th centuries. (Speaking of practice, you did notice I said hand-illumination, the ultimate discipline of transcribing gospel texts letter by letter!) Lacertine patterns have since gained such popularity we see them in broad circulation on everything from metal to skin. Funny how all things old become new again!
Back to steampunk, discipline and time. Since I can't really feel time until it accumulates past all reason (there are people who can attest to this) the discipline of learning fastidious, nitpicky things takes hold of me hard. I'm older than dirt and still in love with persnickety processes while I play at the variety of things emerging from Artimentary Studios. Here is a Steampunk Medal underway for gothic musician "Luna's Ceiling" (see the moon with clouds of titanium slag?) We're naming it the "Cordon Black" as he also cooks. I'm still working on it so I'll let you know how it turns out.
A final point about art and discipline: don't let processes or details scare you off. Not everything comes overnight. In this madhouse of a Sudden-Success-Or-You're-Nothing culture, art still teaches us reason, devotion and discipline regardless of the direction expressed. Look, SOMETHING has to! So sweat away, loving the devil in the details of every exhaspirating or exhilerating moment of the handmade life.
Maybe its just what we do.