Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Releasing My Inner Artist (#208)

Since I was born without a jot of it, I have a deep admiration for anyone with artistic ability. I’m not being falsely modest. My stick men were, and probably still are, unrecognizable blobs. If fridge magnets had been invented in the 50s, my parents would have been mortified at the prospect of having to display my drawings. Early on in life, I sadly accepted the fact that words would be the only medium open to me for self-expression.

I guess in a way, you folks can blame my artistic inability for the fact you’re reading this.


Anyway... I love art and admire artists. Over the last few years, I’ve begun collecting pieces of various descriptions. Most of them have been purchased at yard sales or flea markets. A handful have come from galleries or directly from the artist. They have very little in common with each other except that many depict animals and each of them spoke to me on some level. Surrounding myself with these carvings and sculptures and paintings and photographs reawakened my long-dampened dream to become an artist myself.

Many years ago, I was tremendously impressed when I read about a sculptor who was asked how he fashioned such lifelike, detailed figures from rock and wood. He said something along the lines of: “If I’m carving a horse, I just remove the pieces of wood or stone that aren’t a horse.”

Simple, eh?

Understand, that at 58 I hold few illusions about myself, my abilities, or lack of same. I didn’t buy paints or modeling clay. Been there - totally sucked - you wouldn’t have wanted the t-shirt.

Nope. I bought myself a fine, three-bladed pocket knife.

This is what it looks like:

Yes, me and that beauty are going to carve ourselves some wood. Now, I’m not fool enough to set my artistic bar overly high. I’m not going to carve a wood nymph being ravished by satyr, much as I might like to contemplate the project. Not right from the get-go, at least. I’ll need a bit of practice.

This is me sitting on the back porch steps with my first piece of raw material - a piece of wood:

Taking a leaf from the aforementioned artist’s book, I decide that what I will do is remove all the bits of wood which are NOT part of what I wish to carve.

After mulling creatively for a moment, I decided to turn this piece of wood into a stick. So, here’s me hard at work reshaping the wood into my artistic vision.

A minute later - told you it was a really good knife - voila! The finished product! A fine-looking stick.

Quite frankly, it wasn’t as difficult as it looks from the pictures.

I guess I’m epter than I thought as an artist. I just struggled for decades to find the right medium.

I’m mulling my next project now. It’s a three-inch long piece of wood about as big around as a pencil. Without hardly squinting at all, I’m pretty sure I see a toothpick in there, wanting to come out.

(All photos courtesy of Son #1)


Thumbelina said...

Son #1 has artistic flair. ;0)

Seriously - any lack of artistic ability in the paint or sculpturing dept is happily given up by this reader to read those words of yours.

Although that is a mighty fine looking stick you have and I look forward to seeing the toothpick.

Come over to mine to see what the Original Artist painted in the sky.... ;0)

Dawno said...

That is one of the finest sticks I've had the opportunity to admire.

You do know you can make more than one toothpick from your other piece of wood? I'm looking forward to seeing it, as well.

Next try a big challenge - maybe a Popsicle stick from a tongue depressor?

Hilary said...

I am incredibly lucky to be the proud owner of your first piece of art which you left here two days ago. I think I'll display "Stick #1" and hang it above your favourite away from home whittling spot - my front deck.

I can see you making a killing on eBay.

Travis Erwin said...

And not wanting to waste anything you can use you refuse to make toothpicks.

Jenna said...

Ooh! Do a branch next! Do a branch!

mogie222 said...

That stick looks almost real!

On an unrelated note, how is the Canadian health care system about paying for prosthetic fingers and hands?

Dianne said...

I think you need to make another stick for Benny

perhaps a line of canine sticks for the discerning dog who wants to also find his artistic center

on a serious note - I too surround myself with the art that others have created

I have just recently had the balls to actually frame and display a photo of my own (other than family photos) - my gallery opening was a huge success
Mia (cat 1) yawned
Siren (cat 2) tried to sit on the frame

Reb said...

All artists have to start somewhere Frank and that is a mighty fine stick!

Frank Baron said...

Thumbelina, you're too kind. I'm looking forward to seeing what the OA has in store at your blog. I want to see if my guess is correct. :)

Thanks Dawno. You're a peach. :) As to your suggestion about the Popsicle stick...I need to learn to walk before I can run. Maybe in a year or two I can tackle a project of that magnitude. I sure do appreciate the faith you have in my ability, though. ;)

Hil, I'll add to its value considerably by carving my name into it! As soon as my fingers stop bleeding. :)

Travis, so far, my carving has only resulted in a small, curly bits of shavings. Not quite toothpick material. However...Project #2 holds promise in that department. Thanks for the visit. :)

Jeepers, Jenna! Hang on to your horses! Check my comment to Dawno. The walking-before-running thing. From stick all the way up to branch is like...is like...from tricycle to Harley. But again, I find myself profoundly moved by the faith my friends have in my innate talent. Excuse me...something in my eye...or maybe it's those dang allergies....

Thanks Mog. Yes, none of that abstract crap from me. If I'm doing a stick, you can darn well expect it to look like a stick when I'm done! (And I tested that aspect of the health care system when I pruned the tip of my thumb one fine Spring day. Many stitches. No charge.) ;)

Dianne, I know cats. I've studied their behaviour my entire life and you're correct. Your two were exhibiting classic signs of feline pride in their Mom's accomplishment. Good for you!

Thanks, Reb. You have a good eye. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

That's a damned fine stick, Frank.
Damned fine.

Barbara Martin said...

A very fine stick, Frank. Keep at it and I'm sure some interesting figures will appear, even your satyr chasing a wood nymph.

Anonymous said...

If Hilary can part with it, it would probably look good up at the cottage, in the Bay. I'd like to order a mermaid if I could.

Ray Veen said...

I know just how you feel about admiring artists -- I feel the same way about poets.

I wishes I could write all good like poets.

Frank Baron said...

Thank you, Leah. I think you have a damned fine eye for art.

Thanks Barbara. You liked that visual too, eh? ;)

Baby Sister Lisa, the Bay is probably where I got that stick in the first place. Hmmm...returning a completed work of art back to its birthplace. That's darn noble. I'll consider it. :)

Ray, ya' just hasta practice some - and then ya' can do what they done. ;)

Charlie said...

Excellent work, Frank! When it comes to art, the only thing I can draw is a bath, which is probably why I turned to music instead.

Kappa no He said...

I love it. It would make a good poking stick. You can never have enough poking sticks.

Maggie May said...

Now all you need to do is to find a giant in order to pick his teeth!!!!!
You could use it to disturb ants nests or if you got very old with bent back, you could use it for a walking stick. Or...... you could chuck it over a bridge and see it race down stream.
Running out of ideas now. Maybe you should put it on the mantlepiece in case there was a burglar & then you could shove it right through his heart. LOL!

Nuts in May

Frank Baron said...

Charlie, I've heard you play. You made the right choice. :)

Terrie, truer words were never spoken.

Maggie May, it seems you're a woman with extensive stick experience. Thanks for the visit and the ideas. :)

Shammickite said...

TessaDog would LOVE that stick. She loves art.

Anonymous said...

Years of hanging out with Benny have obviously influenced your inner artsit!

Skunkfeathers said...

You can still make stick figures; mine wind up looking like firewood kindling...

Anonymous said...

Interesting article you got here. It would be great to read more concerning that topic.
By the way check the design I've made myself Overnight escort

Thumbelina said...

Frank, your guess of course was absolutely spot on, but you couldn't get what was next could you? Rascal eh? Hope the head swelling has reduced and I truly look forward to when you are roasted. As only a friend could. ;0) Keep whittling.

Frank Baron said...

Shammi, TessaDog is obviously well-bred. Probably gets her couth from her Mom. ;)

Meredith, you may have something there. It makes sense that since he learned charm and decorum from me, I may have picked up something from him!

Skunkfeathers, don't be too hard on yourself. After all, firewood kindling has its uses. We can't ALL be spiffy artiste types. :)

I don't think so, 123. But thanks anyway. Been a while since I had a nice slice of Spam.

Thanks Thumbelina. You rascal. ;)

Stace said...

Gosh, I'm the same. My mum is a wonderful painter, but I just never managed more than a few blobs. Fortunately I did inherit my dad's musical artistry: I can sing, and if I'd practised at all in the last 8 years I could play the piano! That's something, anyway :)

Eddie Bluelights said...

First time here Frank and enjoying myself - see my sister Maggie May is here with a load of suggestions.
Best I can come up with right now is to go into mass production and make a lot of matches to sell to Swan Vesta or England's Glory if they are still in existence - all they would have to do is to add a blob on Tri Nito Glycerine (if they use that) LOL.
Whilst writing Thumbelina was roasted by me recently n the Sunday Roast column on my blog. You may know I took over the column when David McMahon quit blogland.
Thumbelina has recommended you for a roast and I would be honoured if you agreed to appear on the show.

Please email me on

and I will sed all the details.
Hope you agree - best wishes, Eddie

Frank Baron said...

Stace, that's something indeed! :)

Eddie, I'm honoured to be asked. It's very kind of you but you must allow me to refuse. I've spent 58 years cultivating this International Man of Mystery thing and I can't blow my cover now. ;)

But I most sincerely thank you for asking. :)

Bernita said...

Hee, Frank!
All my fine art came from yard sales...
And thank you for your kind messages.

Falconer said...


Nice pocket knife. Whaddya call a boomerang that doesn't return? You guessed it! A stick!

Best wishes and good luck with the fish.

Frank Baron said...

Bernita, it's where smart people shop. And you're welcome. I'm glad you're back trundling about the blogosphere. :)

Thanks Falconer. I appreciate it. :)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Frank Baron....
First time visitor here thru Hilary (SmittenImage)...
Looks like you have a good pass time adventure there...you neva neva know... even Grandma Moses didn't make it big until she was 80 or so...
Enjoy the weekend. Catcha later!
The Bach

Haggis Chihuahua said...

Frank, that's a fine, fine stick, and I'm sure you know I have a soft spot in my heart for sticks. Can't stand the word "fetch" but I do love sticks. Keep up the good effort.