It’s a quiet, still morning, not a leaf moving. I am still working on the big, old tree parts left in my front yard, but I am making progress.
When I was younger, progress would have been much faster. I am cutting up a lot of wood as I go. Hopefully it will help on my propane bill this winter. A few pieces I will leave out to carve.
I haven’t done any real serious wood carving since I left college. That story starts out once upon a time 50 years ago. I used mostly hand tools then with some motorized grinders. Most of my carving this time will be with a chainsaw, a grinder with a chainsaw-type cutter, a grinder similar to the one I bought 50 years ago and some power cutters and sanders.
So much for traditional carving. I don’t have the time or energy but I may finish it up with some sharp carving chisels I have in the shop.
I want to have a few carved pieces around the house to remind me of its beauty I enjoyed for over 35 years and all the times my grandchildren painted pictures under the shade of this massive tree. I already miss it even though parts of it are still all over the yard. About half of it is in cut up piles. The other half, well, I’m working on it.
I still can’t get over the idea that it’s gone and we will enjoy its shade no more. May I be able to do it some artistic justice. “Squeeze me out some extra time and energy Lord and I will make some beautiful works of art from its remains.”
Most people know me as a painter, but as a teen, I wanted to be a sculptor but it took a lot of money for an education to be a sculptor and if your family wasn’t already rich, well, the possibilities of success were rare. Besides that, life had a different course for me to follow. Do I know exactly what that course is yet, I think so, but life is still playing out and I don’t know how long I will have until its end.
I have tried writing as much as I could about life as an artist, what the expectations are from others but mainly from myself, the ups and downs and the crossovers. It’s been a wild and interesting ride and I have learned and experienced a lot on the way. As to what will finally define who I am or who I was I don’t know. I just hope the stories and the paintings end up helping others to understand themselves and to not take themselves too serious.
At this last stage of my life, I am learning how to play at my art and writing. To take it as it comes and move with it as it goes. Every day I notice changes in me that seemed to have happened over night but they didn’t. They gradually moved into my world by taking things away. Some of them were important to me. Others I won’t remember to miss. A mixed blessing of which I have little or no control over so I will keep on keeping on until I am no more. What will survive me I do not know.
So I stand here examining these big chunks of wood and the big stump which I will carve on first. Believe it or not, this is mostly a winter activity, because in the summertime, it is much too hot to be very creative while carving and swatting sweat bees at the same time.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.